Dish With A Difference

We’re talking about: baumkuchen

The German spit cake has captured the imagination of revered Parisian pâtissier Phillipe Conticini, who is triumphantly returning to London this month

26 February 2020
bakerydessertFrenchjapanesestreet food
  • The Dish: Baumkuchen (or “Roulé de Philippe”)
  • The Place: Conticini - 732-736 North Yard, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AH
  • The Chef: Phillipe Conticini


The baumkuchen (German for “tree cake”) is unusual for many different reasons. Said to have originated in Bavaria in the 19th century, the cake is made via spit roasting, with multiple thin layers of batter applied to a rotating spit over a fire.

Once roasted, the cake (which often stands three to four feet tall) is slid off the spit and sliced, with the layers resembling growth rings on a tree.

Interestingly, the baumkuchen is a hugely popular dessert in Japan, with its ring-like appearance making it particularly prevalent at weddings, while it is also consumed as part of street food culture.

Already with strong German and Japanese connections, the baumkuchen has recently been tackled by the French, with pastry master Phillipe Conticini unveiling his own rendition at the opening of his second Parisian patisserie, Gâteaux d'Emotions, at the end of December.

Branded as “Roules de Phillipe”, Conticini is to unleash the baumkuchen in London later this month in a sizeable new outpost, with the Frenchman installing an oven specifically designed for the spit cake, which will be available in chocolate, vanilla and matcha flavours.


In Camden Market’s North Yard, with this Conticini’s first venture in the English capital since the abrupt closure of his two Pâtisserie des Rêves shops in Marylebone and South Kensington three years ago.

Conticini is known for his pioneering and innovative take on pastry and has been credited for the invention of the verrine (the now commonly seen thick-walled glass container used to heighten diner experience and interaction) in the 1990s.

He is also known for being an early advocate for the use of “normal” ingredients in haute cuisine (such as Nutella and canned tuna) and for inventing the choux bar – an à la minute rendition of the choux bun with a thinner shell.


Considering Conticini’s pedigree with pastry innovation, Food Spark is keeping a close eye on his 13-layer baumkuchen, with the cake concept ticking a number of UK trend boxes, with stats to back it up.

According to last month’s survey from chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut, 43% of UK consumers buy a dessert, cake or pastry when they eat out, with nearly half (48%) of those surveyed saying they look for quality desserts made with premium ingredients.

Bakery, pastry and premium dessert offerings are all rising in popularity in the UK, with Dominique Ansel Treehouse, Flor and Oklava Bakery and Wine three highly popular examples of openings in the capital over the past year.  

The baumkuchen’s Japanese affiliations are also worth noting, with one of Food Spark’s key predicted trends for 2020 being food from the Asia-Pacific region, most notably from Japan.

Conticini will also be selling similarly high-end treats such as macarons, millefeuille and câlin gourmand (the latter a creation of crispy praline puffed rice, dark chocolate ganache and hazelnut gianduja, lemon jelly and milk chocolate frosting), with a mysterious ‘lab’ section also part of the innovative pastry master’s soon-to-open Camden centre.

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