Gary’s Wine Opens in Hillsborough; Finding Love in Restaurant Kitchens; Baumkuchen

Gary Fisch  on Why & How He’s Added a 4th Gary’s Wine & Marketplace to his Stable

Gary Fisch, Gary's Wine & Marketplace

Gary Fisch, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace

Fisch, who was named 2014 Retailer of the Year by Market Watch, has planted a flag at the Nelson’s Corner shopping center on Route 206 at Amwell Road. For now it’s a pop-up, while a new 9,000-square-foot space is being readied. I met him there to get the scoop on what he has in mind for the Hillsborough store and his $50 million business. Here’s my story in the December 10 issue of US 1. Oh yes: the interview also includes a wine tasting. Garys 001

Couples who Live, Love, & Work Together in the Food Biz

For my final 2014 “In the Kitchen” column, in the December 12 issue of the Princeton Packet I asked 4 couples who toil in Princeton area eateries to open up on what it takes to keep the spark going when you both live together and work side-by-side in the crazy world of food and dining. Their candid responses far exceeded my expectations. A big thank you goes out to the first 2 couples I spotlight:

Rory & Aaron Philipson of Blue Bottle Cafe in Hopewell:

Rory & Aaron Philipson, courtesy Double Brook Farm

Rory & Aaron Philipson, courtesy Double Brook Farm

Lauren Sabogal & Frank Caponi, she the owner/chef of Buttons Creperie and he sous chef at Teresa Caffe in Princeton:

Frank Caponi & Lauren Sabogal, courtesy Great Heights Photography

Frank Caponi & Lauren Sabogal, courtesy Great Heights Photography

Baumkuchen: It’s new to me!

Baumkuchen (dinewithpat.com)

Baumkuchen
(dinewithpat.com)

Are you familiar with this German Christmas tradition, which translates as “tree cake”? The cake is made on a spit (!) and takes its name from the appearance of the resulting layers, which do indeed resemble the concentric rings of a tree:

Baumkuchen interior  (dinewithpat.com)

Baumkuchen interior
(dinewithpat.com)

I was introduced to the baumkuchen pictured above when a friend from Hamburg hand-carried some over direct from her hometown to share at a recent brunch in Princeton. I was smitten by its appearance, taste, unique preparation, and history. (Apparently it was popular at weddings in Frankfurt and Nuremberg as far back as the 15th century.)

In an incredibly labor-intensive process, the layers are built up one by one, as the baker applies a thin coat of batter with a brush, and lets it bake just enough so that the next layer of batter will adhere to it. Historically, baumkuchen was made on a special rotating, wood-fired spit, as some still are today. Each layer is so so thin that by comparison those of a dobos torte seem positively gargantuan.

Dobos cake (Gerbeaud Confectionery, Budapest, Hungary)

Dobos cake (Gerbeaud Confectionery, Budapest, Hungary)

When the baumkuchen is finished baking, it’s removed from the spit (hence it has a hole in the middle) and is often covered with chocolate couverture, as this one was. The cake tasted like it had almond paste or marzipan in the batter, which is also traditional. The resulting layers were rich and dense, yet still so light that I couldn’t stop eating it.

I came up short on finding a bakery in NJ that sells German-style baumkuchen, although, amazingly, there’s a Japanese iteration (“baum roll”) sold at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater. This reflects just another part of the cake’s fascinating history.

5 responses to “Gary’s Wine Opens in Hillsborough; Finding Love in Restaurant Kitchens; Baumkuchen

  1. This cake reminds me of the Lithuanian Torte my uncle sent us from Omaha each year – but those didn’t have the attraction of chocolate and marzipan. This cake looks delicious, thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. Dear Pat, thanks for your article about “Baumkuchen!”! But the japanese “baum roll” shown on their website is definitely no real “Baumkuchen”, just a rolled cake.

  3. Yes, I know. But I think it’s a hoot that the Japanese have picked up on baumkuchen in any way, shape, or form.

  4. Spit cakes a delicious. I might be biased, but Lithuanian tree cake was the best of the lot I tried while travelling. It can be due to cream or sour cream and loads of eggs used in the recipe. Here’s my findings on the geography of spit cakes if you are interested: http://onfoodietrail.com/2015/01/29/spit-cakes-across-europe/

  5. Pingback: Couples in the Kitchen, part ii; Local TV Cooking Show Debuts; Hopewell Restaurant Week; Slow Food Market | Dine With Pat

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