As its name indicates, the popular cake baumkuchen was not invented in Japan, though its ubiquity on store shelves may suggest otherwise. It was introduced to Japan by a German baker, whose story is told on the historical documentary series, “Rekishi Hiwa Historia” (History’s Secret Stories; NHK-G, Wed., 10 p.m.).
Karl Juchheim was in the Chinese city of Tsingtao when Germany lost World War I and since Japan was on the winning side in that conflict, the Japanese Army removed him and his wife to Japan. He started making and selling the traditional confection called baumkuchen and made quite a splash with it at a German exhibition in Hiroshima.
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