My birthday cakes were Black Forest cakes for most of my childhood. Made by Chinese bakeries, the fillings were made with cherry-flavoured jellies and did not have any kirsch in order to make it family and child-friendly. But these alterations removed the spirit of the cake, making it a bit dull and lackluster.
When I learned that traditional Black Forest cakes are made with sour cherries and kirsch liqueur to showcase the cherries from Germany’s Black Forest, I had to re-make it myself. After several attempts, I finally made one that I am truly happy with. The adult version of my birthday cake has appeared.
This cake is tedious, and has many steps, but I enjoy every single moment making it.
This is my last post for year 2015. It has been an eventful year, and I welcome the next one with open arms. I wish everyone all the best in the new year 2016.
BLACK FOREST CAKE (MAKES ONE 9″ CAKE)
- I love to leave this cake in the fridge overnight to let the liqueur thoroughly infuse the cake for deeper flavours.
- The reason I added the cornstarch paste to the whipped cream is to prevent it from sweating. Whipped cream without this concoction will extrude water over time, making the cake soggy.
- Frosting cakes takes practice and finesse (which I sometimes lack). Here is a useful video on how to frost a cake.
For the cake:
- All-purpose flour – 1 1/4 cup, and a bit more for dusting the cake pans
- Cocoa powder (regular) – 1/4 cup
- Hot water – 1/3 cup
- Buttermilk (or regular milk, and add lemon juice of 1/2 a lemon. Stir and let it sit for 10 minutes to thicken) – 1/3 cup
- Vanilla extract – 2 tsp
- Unsalted butter, softened but still cool – 1 1/2 sticks (or approx 170 g)
- Sugar – 3/4 cups
- Eggs, at room temperature – 3 large eggs
- Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
For the filling:
- Red sour pitted cherries in light syrup, drained – 1/2 cup (Note: You can find these in the pickled foods aisle (with olives, jarred roasted peppers, etc) Try not to use cherry fillings or canned cherries. You want strong sour cherry flavour, which pre-made cherry filling lacks.)
- syrup from the jar of red sour pitted cherries – 1/4 cup
- Kirsch (cherry liqueur) – 1/4 cup
For the whipped cream:
- cornstarch – 1 tablespoon
- whipping cream – 3 cups
- vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon (optional)
For the chocolate:
- Semi-sweet chocolate shavings, shaved with a paring knife or chef’s knife – 5 to 7 oz
- For the whipped cream: Add the cornstarch for a saucepan and turn the stove to medium heat. With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir until the cornstarch is heated. Add 1/2 cup of the whipping cream and continue stirring until it turns into a thick paste. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit to room temperature.
- Put the remainder of the whipping cream and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until it starts to rise. With the mixer still on, gradually add the cornstarch/whipping cream paste from Step 1 in. Continue to beat until the cream becomes soft peaks, about 1 minute. Do not over beat or else it will curdle. Place covered in fridge until assembly of cake.
- For the chocolate cake: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9″ cake pans (bottom and sides). Add a parchment paper round to each cake pan. Grease the top of the parchment paper. Dust some all-purpose flour into the cake pans, including the sides.
- Mix the cocoa powder and water in a bowl until thoroughly blended and the chocolate is smooth. Stir in the buttermilk (or milk with lemon juice mixture) and vanilla. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together thoroughly.
- In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer still on, add one egg at a time, letting each egg incorporate before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. Turn the mixer to low speed and add 1/3 of the flour mixture and the 1/3 of the chocolate mixture until just incorporated. Repeat until all of the flour and chocolate mixture is incorporated.
- Divide the cake batter evenly in the two buttered cake pans. Smooth the tops with a rubber spatula and place the cakes side by side into the middle rack of the oven, evenly spaced out each side. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cake pans from the oven and rest them on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and let them sit on the wire rack for at least 2 hours and thoroughly cooled before assembly.
- Kirsch syrup: Mix the kirsch and the sour cherry syrup in a measuring cup and set aside.
- Assembly: Take one cake and place it on a cake round (or I use the bottom of a springform pan) and shave the thin layer of the crust off the top (so that the cherries and whip cream filling can have a good grip and will not slide off when cutting the cake). Brush the kirsch syrup on to the cake. Don’t worry about brushing too much kirsch syrup because the cake is dry, and the taste of liqueur will be muted after the cake is cooled, or chilled in the fridge.
- Place the sour cherries on top of the cake, in the middle, 1-inch from the edge of the cake. Add a large blob of whipped cream on top of the cherries and spread the whipped cream evenly with a frosting spatula. Add enough whipped cream so it spreads a little over the edge.
- Shave a little off the top of the second cake. Stack the second cake on top of the first one, with the bottom facing up this time so the top of the cake will be flat. Brush the cake with the kirsch syrup, being careful not to drip over the whipped cream in the layer below. Frost the entire cake (top and sides) with the remaining whipped cream.
- Finally, sprinkle the chocolate shavings on the top of the cake. To put the shavings on the side of the cake, lift the cake in one hand, and grab a bunch of chocolate shavings in the palm of the other hand. Gently press the shaving on to the side of the cake with your palm. You should do this over a large plate or cookie sheet to make clean up easier (the chocolate shavings will get everywhere). And there is your Black Forest Cake!
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s German Chocolate Cake Recipe and Black Forest Cake Recipe.
(This recipe is posted first at http://www.yuenshan.com)