Lithuanian šakotis or baumkuchenas ("tree cake"[1]), Polish sękacz,[2] Belarusian bankucha (Belarusian: банкуха),[3][4][5] German baumkuchen. Šakotis is a Polish, Lithuanian and Belarusian traditional spit cake. It is a cake made of butter, egg whites and yolks, flour, sugar, and cream, cooked on a rotating spit in an oven or over an open fire.

Lithuanian šakotis
Alternative namesSękacz (Poland)
Bankucha (Belarus)
Region or stateLithuania, Poland, Belarus
Created byGerman Baumkuchen


The cake became popular in the 19th century in the former territory of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1791). Its origins are related to the baumkuchen in German cuisine. The first recipe in the Polish - Lithuanian - Belarusian region was published in Vilnius by Jan Szyttler in 1830 (the culinary book "Kucharz dobrze usposobiony...").

Its name means "tree cake" due to its distinctive shape (it is often conical, like a pine tree, and with the drips as branches) and "tree-rings" inside. It is baked in a time- and labor-intensive process,[6] by painting layers of batter onto a rotating spit in a special open oven or over an open fire.

It can be decorated with chocolate and flower ornaments, but it is often served plain. Šakotis is one of the most important desserts in Lithuanian celebrations, especially at weddings or other special occasions such as Easter or Christmas.[7] It was the sweet chosen to represent Lithuania in the Café Europe initiative of the Austrian presidency of the European Union, on Europe Day 2006.

In May 2015, in Druskininkai, Lithuania, the record of the biggest šakotis was broken with 372 centimetres (12.20 ft) height and 85.8 kilograms (189 lb) weight.[8]

In 2006, Masurian sękacz was included in the list of traditional products of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland.[9]

In 2019, the bankucha recipe from Porazava was included in the official list of historical and cultural heritage of Belarus.[10] In north-western Belarus, bankucha is known as a wedding cake made of 60 egg yolks.[11][3]

Other regional varieties

The family of European spitcakes
  • Austria – Prügelkrapfen
  • Belarus – bankucha (derived from the German word Baumkuchen meaning "Tree cake")
  • Czech Republic – Trdelnik
  • France – Gâteau à la broche
  • Germany - Baumkuchen
  • Luxembourg – Baamkuch has become a traditional dish served mostly on special occasions, such as weddings, christenings, etc. Yet, the cake is available all year around in certain supermarkets.
  • Poland – Sękacz
  • Lithuania – Šakotis (known as Bankuchenas, the word is borrowed from German Baumkuchen) is a similar cake also cooked on a spit, normally over an open fire
  • Sweden – Spettekaka with the protected geographical indication (PGI) registered by the EU
  • Hungary – Kürtőskalács is a similar cake also cooked on a spit
  • Slovakia – Skalický trdelník with the protected geographical indication (PGI) registered by the EU
  • Turkey – Makara tatlısı is a similar cake also cooked on a spit.
  • Indonesia – Spekkoek (kue lapis legit or spekuk) was developed during colonial times in the Dutch East Indies. The firm-textured cake is an Indo (Dutch-Indonesian) version of the European multi-layered spit cake.

See also


  1. Lankauskas, Gediminas (2015). The Land of Weddings and Rain: Nation and Modernity in Post-Socialist Lithuania. U of Toronto P. pp. 208–11. ISBN 9781442612563.
  2. Goyan Kittler, Pamela; Sucher, Kathryn P.; Nelms, Marcia (2011). Food and Culture (6th ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 174. ISBN 978-0538734974.
  3. Торт банкуху из Свислочского района могут внести в список культурного наследия - BelTA, 30 April 2019. Quote: В поселке Порозово, что на самом краю Беловежской пущи, сохранили мастерство приготовления банкухи. До сих пор не известно, откуда был привезен рецепт. Похожий пирог под название сэнкач выпекают в Польше, а в Литве такой торт известен как шакотис. [In the village Porazava on the edge of the Bielaviezha Forest, the art of making the bankucha is still preserved. It is still unknown where the recipe came from. A similar cake called sękacz is made in Poland, while in Lithuania this cake is known as šakotis]
  4. Торт-гриль. Как в Беларуси пытаются сохранить традиции приготовления уникального свадебного пирога [The grilled cake. How Belarusians try to preserve the traditions of making a unique wedding cake] - Sovetskaya Belorussiya – Belarus' Segodnya, 17 May 2019. Quote: Развеем сомнения тех, кто на фотографии узнал брендовый литовский шакотис. Он и есть. Если быть точнее, то банкуха — это его белорусский «хенд мейд»‑аналог, за приготовлением которого на кухне нужно провести не менее семи часов. [Let us clear the doubts of those who recognize the iconic Lithuanian šakotis in the photo. It is it. To be exact, bankucha is its hand-made analogue, and to cook it you have to spend not less than seven hours in the kitchen]
  5. Гастротур по Беларуси: аутентичные блюда и кулинарные традиции Синеокой [A gastronomic tour through Belarus: dishes and culinary traditions of the Blue-Eyed Land] - Belarus.by, Official website of the Republic of Belarus. Quote: Жительницы белорусско-польского приграничья хранят уникальный рецепт блюда, которое раньше считалось непременным атрибутом любой свадьбы. Праздничный торт банкуха, внешне напоминающий литовский шакотис, считается тем лучше приготовленным, чем он выше и "ветвистее". [Women from the Belarusian-Polish borderland have a unique recipe of a dish that used to be a necessary attribute of any wedding. The festive cake bankucha, that looks similar to the Lithianian šakotis, is considered to be best if it is higher and has many branches.]
  6. Bremzen, Anya von (2014). Det goda sovjetiska köket: Minnen, mat och längtan (in Swedish). 2244. p. 242. ISBN 9789186729592.
  7. Baker, Mark; Presser, Brandon; Dragicevich, Peter; Richmond, Simon; Symington, Andy (2012). Lonely Planet Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania. Lonely Planet. p. 43. ISBN 9781743213049.
  8. Lietuvoje pasiektas rekordas: iškeptas didžiausias pasaulyje šakotis
  9. Spiel, Jadwiga A.; Pliszka, Monika; Borowski, Jerzy; Gutkowska, Agnieszka (2011). "Skład chemiczny, cechy sensoryczne i właściwości przeciwutleniające sękacza mazurskiego (Chemical composition, sensoric features, and antioxidants properties of 'Masurian Sękacz' cake)". Żywność. Nauka. Technologia. Jakość (in Polish and English). PTTŻ. 18 (6): 120, 131.
  10. Гісторыка-культурнай каштоўнасцю Беларусі прызналі пірог «банкуха» з Поразава. Што гэта такое? [Bankucha cake from Porazava recognized as an object of historical and cultural value of Belarus. What is it?] - Nasha Niva, 16 December 2019
  11. ГУРМАН. Что такое банкуха, и как ее приготовить [GOURMET. What is a bankucha and how to make it] - Minsknews.by, 16 June 2019
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