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Baumtorte (Tree Cake)
makes 12 - 18 generous servings

Cake Batter

2 cups water
3 oz shelled unsalted undyed pistachios
2 cups apricot preserves
13 oz almond paste at room temp
6 tbs half-and-half
7 oz unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup sifted cake flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
2 tbs dark rum or fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated lemon zest
10 eggs separated at room temp
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate Glaze
makes 1/2 cup

3 tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbs dark rum
1 tbs plus 1 tsp light corn syrup
3 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Stir butter, rum, corn syrup, and salt in small heavy saucepan over
low heat until butter is melted. Increase heat to medium and boil
mixture, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir
in chocolate until completely melted. Cool at room temperature
until mixture coats a spoon, about 5 minutes. Use at once.

Butter bottom and side of a 10 x 3 inch springform pan. Dust with
flour, shake out excess. Line bottom of pan with double thickness
of baking parchment.

Heat oven to 200 degrees.

Heat 2 cups water to boiling in small saucepan. Add pistachios;
boil 20 seconds. Drain immediately; spread in single layer on
double thickness of paper toweling. While still warm, peel pistachios
by pressing between thumb and index finger; or use a small knife.
Spread pistachios on baking sheet and bake until dry, about 20
minutes. Cool thoroughly. Grind very fine in nut grinder or chop
very fine with a food processor.

Press apricot preserves through medium-fine sieve into small bowl
with back of wooden spoon. Discard any skins left in sieve; reserve
sieved preserves.

Place almond paste in small mixer bowl. Beat in half-and-half, 1
tablespoon at a time, until mixture is light and fluffy and has
consistency of mashed potatoes, about 4 minutes; reserve.

Beat butter in large mixer bowl until light in color, about 2
minutes. Fold in flour, cornstarch, rum, vanilla, and lemon zest
with rubber spatula until completely blended. Gradually fold in
almond paste mixture; reserve batter.

Place egg yolks in large mixer bowl and gradually beat in cup of
the sugar at medium speed until mixture is light in color and forms
a slowly dissolving ribbon when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes.
Fold into batter with rubber spatula until completely blended;
reserve.

Adjust broiler rack to accommodate prepared cake pan; top of pan
should be about 1 inch from broiler.

Place egg whites and salt in clean large mixer bowl. Beat on low
speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining 1/2 cup
sugar, 2 tbs at a time; increase speed to medium and beat until
whites are stiff but not dry. Fold whites, on fourth at a time,
into reserved batter until completely blended.

To make torte, spoon a scant 1/4 cup of the batter into cake pan;
brush or spread to edges of pan with pastry brush or small flexible
spatula. Place cake pan under broiler; broil until batter is very
lightly browned and resembles a cooked crepe, about 3 minutes,
depending on temperature of broiler and position of broiler rack.*
Brush another scant cup of batter over broiled layer; broil as
above. Brush second layer with a thin film of apricot preserves
to within 1/2" of edge; sprinkle with about 1 tsp. ground pistachios.
Repeat the layering and broiling process, coating every other layer
with preserves and pistachios, until all the batter has been used.
You should have about 30 layers in cake pan. Cool torte on wire
rack to room temperature; refrigerate, covered, overnight in
springform pan. Reserve the remaining apricot preserves, covered,
for step 12; you should have about 1 cup. Reserve remaining
pistachios for step 15; you should have about 5 tbs.

Remove sides from springform pan. Center an 8-inch template on
top of torte.** Holding blade of thin sharp knife downward at a
30 degree angle, slice away the sides of the torte from template
to outer rim of base. Torte will now have 8-inch top and 10-inch
base with slanted sides. Trim sides until smooth. Invert torte;
remove springform base and peel off parchment. Place wire rack
over torte and invert again.

Heat remaining apricot preserves in small heavy saucepan over
medium-low heat until candy thermometer registers about 225 deg.,
about 10 minutes. Using flat metal spatula, immediately spread
preserves evenly over top and sides of torte. Let stand until
preserves are cooled and set, about 30 minutes.

Make Chocolate Glaze.

Pour slightly cooled chocolate glaze over top of torte. Using flat
metal spatula, quickly spread glaze as evenly as possible over top
and side of torte, apricot glaze should be completely covered.
Let torte stand until glaze is almost set, about 15 minutes.

Decorate torte with remaining reserved ground pistachios, as follows.
Tear off four 3 inch strips of waxed paper; place them under edges
of torte to catch and spillings. Sprinkle a inch border of
pistachios along top edge of torte. Carefully tilt torte at a
slight angle and gently press remaining pistachios over sides of
torte with small spatula or your fingers. Re-use any pistachios
that have fallen onto the waxed paper. Carefully transfer torte
to serving platter with large metal spatula.

*Broiler temperature vary widely; it may be necessary to experiment
with the first few layers by adjusting level of broiler rack to
achieve desired degree of browning

**An 8" cardboard circle, bottom of 8" springform pan, or 8" saucepan
lid can be used as a template.

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