For me, Baumkuchen is one of the most delicious cakes when it is fresh. The fact that I was able to eat this speciality in the Harzer Baumkuchenhaus in Wernigerode was a real surprise for me.
In the middle of an industrial estate is the Harzer Baumkuchenhaus, where you can eat Baumkuchen and of course buy it to take away. Even though we were only in Wernigerode for a weekend, we went there twice.
Our second visit was timed so that we were there about 5 minutes before opening. I was more than amazed, there were already cars waiting in front of the locked car park and shortly after us a coach stopped. What a hullabaloo when the car park was opened. Hectic parking – wives who were already rushing to the entrance as if the Baumkuchen would be sold out immediately and coach travellers who didn’t understand the principle of restricting entry at the sales counter. A wonderful spectacle!
We sat down in the café in the Harzer Baumkuchenhaus and looked forward to a piece of Baumkuchen.
Where does the Baumkuchen come from?
In the café there is a small room where the history of the Baumkuchen is presented. While we were waiting for our cake, I had enough time to take a look inside.
The history of the pyramid cake probably goes back to antiquity. Around 400 BC, it is said that bread was sold in Greece that had been baked on a stick. The bread, sweetened with honey, was served at festivals in honour of the god Dionysius and was called Obelias bread.
The Romans adopted the custom from the Greeks and served the pastry with wine in honour of Bacchus, the god of wine. With their military campaigns, they spread their culture far and wide and bread also “conquered” further areas.
Over time, a new recipe developed from the Roman pastry and the “Baumkuchen 2.0” was born. It is still baked today in Austria as “Prügelkrapfen” and Romania as “Hermannstädter”. The dough is rolled out and then wrapped around a stick/beater/tree and baked.
The “Baumkuchen 3.0” developed over time. The dough is rolled around a conical roller, baked, sprinkled with sugar and eaten warm. To me, it sounds a bit like the Trdelník from Prague or the Kürtőskalács from Hungary.
The “Baumkuchen 4.0” is baked from a mixture that resembles pancake batter. This variant is said to be widespread in Asia. Here, the mixture is made from rice flour and baked on a bamboo stick over a campfire.
When it was realised that whipping the ingredients of the egg-cake-like mass created more volume, making the pastry more tender, the “Baumkuchen 5.0” developed.
The Harz Baumkuchen
In 1749, the first Baum- und Schlosskuchen factory was established in Wernigerode. The popularity of Baumkuchen from the Harz Mountains increased steadily over time and more and more Baumkuchen bakers moved to the town.
Baumkuchen production was destroyed during the Second World War and could only be rebuilt afterwards. In GDR times, VEB-Backwaren Wernigerode took over the Baumkuchen production and supplied about 400 sales outlets.
After the fall of the Wall, Baumkuchen production stopped and it was not until 1992 that Harzer Baumkuchen was produced again. The Baumkuchenhaus has been in Wernigerode since 2008. The unmistakable building shows exactly what you can expect there. I like it!
I found it exciting that not only the classic Baumkuchen is offered here, but that there really is variety on the menu. Baumkuchen with dark chocolate, with milk chocolate, with white chocolate, with cream, without cream, with egg liqueur, with ice cream…. I couldn’t decide and was glad to be able to buy some more right away so I could continue eating at home!
Neustadter Ring 17
Monday-Saturday: 10-18 h
Sunday, public holiday: 12-18 h
closed: 24.12. – 26.12., 1.1.