~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Traditional(or not) German Black Forest Cake...

A day after... morning breakfast:).
Traditional(or not) German Black Forest Cake... Finally. It's been baked. A Black Forest cake for my sweet husband. I've been meaning to bake this cake for him... for years... and I mean years! 

When I was in high school, I used to go to the library in my spare time, to look through cookbooks and jot down recipes that I liked. I continued to do that even throughout college. When I needed a break from studying for my chemistry exams, I'd relax with a cookbook in hand. Ended up writing down recipes even after I graduated... sort of still do:). Funny thing is that I had recipes written on all sorts of paper.... scraps, torn out papers from my binder notebooks, post-its, and even pretty paper:). Eventually, I made a collection of recipes I thought I would one day try out. Not many survived.... yet I still have a few of them lingering in my recipe collection. And this particular recipe for Black Forest cake was one of those recipes I've kept for years.  
I  really don't know how "traditional" this recipe may be, but this is the version I ended up making for my husband. 

The Black Forest cake, here in the states, is actually quite different from the original German Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte , which requires the Kirschwasser (cherry schnapps, Kirsch) to have a prominent flavor in the cake. Here in the states, Kirsch isn't normally used, and the cake is more of a regular leavened chocolate cake.... not a sponge cake. In any case, the main components of a traditional Black Forest cake should mainly consist of Kirsch, a chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream, chocolate shavings and cherries. Sometimes a bottom short-crust biscuit layer can also be added.... yes, a biscuit layer(usually omitted, but more traditional). From there, all sorts of adaptations can be applied... including a chocolate ganache or chocolate whipped cream layer. And to really balance out all the flavors in a Black Forest cake, sour cherries should be used. But really, you can make the cake anyway you like:). 

Opt to skip the Kirsch, and add some cherry juice... and use regular cherries, as in my case. And because I did not want to buy canned cherries, I ended up using frozen black cherries (which are sweeter). But if I had the choice, and if I could find them out here, I would much prefer the sour cherries. This particular version of the Black Forest cake has a stronger chocolate flavor than normal... so if you don't care for that, you can easily skip the chocolate-cream filling. The original recipe has the chocolate filling as part of the cake... but I decided to label it as optional, because I think you can skip it. I also added my notes, in case you want to use cherry juice instead of the Kirsch.... but always taste and adjust to preference.     

Making a Black Forest cake takes some time to make...  as you will need to have the cake cooled completely before assembling and decorating. But just give yourself plenty of time... and don't rush it. And if you like, you can bake the cake a day earlier(or days before, and freeze) to make the whole process go smoother. The finished cake photos actually reflect the evening light... when I finally assembled and decorated the cake. Hope you enjoy... 

You will need: adapted from a-long- ago- jotted- down- recipe. 

Cherry Filling: use sour cherries for a more traditional flavor
2 lbs frozen cherries(can use canned/jarred, drained)*
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 TBS kirsch(can use a cherry juice and a bit of vanilla extract )
2 TBS cornstarch
* I ended up using large sweet frozen cherries and 2 lbs was about 7 cups worth

Chocolate Sponge Cakefor a 9 inch round cake pan
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cocoa powder( I used dark)
3 ex-large eggs
3 ex-large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract, optional

Kirsch/Cherry Syrup:
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
4 TBS kirsch(can use cherry juice and a bit of vanilla extract)

Chocolate Filling: this is optional... but came with the recipe. Add if you like an extra chocolate flavor.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz chocolate, chopped

Whipped Topping:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar,  or to taste
3 TBS kirsch (or 2 tsps vanilla extract)

Chocolate Curls:
4 oz chocolate bar

Make Cherry Filling:
1. In a large pot add cherries, sugar, and cinnamon.
2. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. 
3. In a small bowl combine kirsch( or cherry juice/vanilla) with cornstarch... add a bit of the hot liquid and mix well. Add to rest of the simmering cherries.
4. Cook, stirring often ... until thickened  and clear.  Reserve 12-14 cherries for decoration. Set aside to cool.

Make Chocolate Sponge Cake:   
  • Line a 9 inch pan with parchment paper. A taller 9 inch pan with removable bottom is ideal.... mine wasn't as tall and the cake sort of made a "lip".
  • Preheat oven to 350 deg F
1. Sift together, flour, cornstarch and cocoa. Set aside.
2. In mixer bowl, add eggs, yolks, sugar, and almond extract( if using). Place bowl over a pan of simmering water and hand whisk until mixture is barely warm ( 1-2 minutes).

3. Take bowl off heat and whip  for 3-4 minutes... or until volume has doubled, is thick and pale white. 
4. Add flour mixture in thirds... and fold gently until combined and no white streaks remain. Folding gently is crucial... otherwise mixture will deflate and cake will be dense and flat. 
5. Pour batter in parchment lined pan. Smooth out and tap on counter to release any bubbles.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and cool completely.
7. Slice sponge cake in 3 layers... this can be a bit tricky, just take your time. Cover and set aside until needed. 

Make Chocolate Filling:
1. Bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, whisk to combine and refrigerate until cooled and slightly thickened.  Before spreading on cake whisk the chocolate filling so it will thicken a bit more and is spreadable.

Make Kirsch/Cherry Syrup:
1. Boil water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Take off heat and add kirsch or cherry juice/vanilla.

Make chocolate curls:
1. Using a peeler, shave chocolate curls from chocolate bar. Set aside until needed.

Make whipped topping:  
1. In mixer bowl, add whipping cream, powdered sugar, and kirsch( or vanilla). Whip until almost stiff peaks.  
2. Add whipped topping to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Set aside until needed.

Assemble Cake:
1. Place one cake layer unto a large parchment lined plate( lined with parchment paper for easier removal, if you want to use another plate for final cake). 
2. Moisten cake layer with 1/3 of the syrup(about 5 TBS). 
3. Add about 1/2 cup of the whipped chocolate filling. Spread evenly.
4. Pipe a strip of whipped topping around the edge of the cake. Place half of the cherry filling, spreading evenly to the edge of the whipped topping.
5. Add second layer of cake and repeat... moistening, adding chocolate filling, cherries and whipped topping.  
6. Place top layer of cake moisten with remaining syrup and spread a layer of whipped topping. Cover the sides with whipped topping as well. 

7. Decorate the sides with chocolate curls... reserving some for the top, if you like.
8. Decorate with extra whipped topping on top, cherries and chocolate curls... I ended up using a large star tip to pipe "stars"  on the edges and another circle of stars in the middle.  I placed reserved cherries on top along the outer side, then filled the gap between the middle circle and the outer circle with more chocolate curls... while filling the center with leftover syrup from the cherry filling(without the cherries). Piped a few more whipped topping "stars" in the middle and added an extra cherry on top. But you can decorate as you desire. 


Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

This truly is a thing of beauty. Congratulations on a cake well done! I love the use of frozen cherries, much better than canned or that yucky pie filling.

Cuparoons said...

This looks so good, Ellie! I've been looking for a new cake recipe to try and this is it! I use the same technique when making sponge cakes and I just love it! Blessings!

Ellie said...

Andrea, Sweet of you, Thanks! I'm not much of a cake person... in my early teenage years, I used to bake cakes more often, was more adventurous I suppose:)! Now, somehow, I've sort of stopped baking cakes as much... but I'm glad I made this one:) My husband could barely wait to have a slice:)!

Ellie said...

Cuparoons, Aww, thanks a bunch! Now, knowing you bake such beautiful cakes, I'm truly humbled:). I'm not much of a decorator, but I tried my best for my husband.

Glad I inspired you make the cake... and I know you will make a beautiful cake with your own special touch:). I think the most difficult part of this cake is the sponge cake itself. If it doesn't rise then it's hard to get 3 slices... and I think it's also a great idea to line the sides of the pan with parchment paper so the cake rises to it's full potential(note to self).

Thank you for stopping by... and have a blessed day!

Speranta said...

2xExcelent e tot ce pot spune !!!

Multa munca dar rezultatele pe masura!

O zi placita iti doresc!

Ellie said...

Speranta, Oh, multumesc mult! De cand am vrut sa fac tortul asta... si uite ca in final l-am facut:). A meritat, si daca am mancat cake in fiecare zi pana sa terminat:)...

Iti doresc si tie un weekend placut!

Rhonda said...

Looks like a lot of work but worth it! Beautiful cake.

Ellie said...

Rhonda, You are so sweet, thanks a bunch! Means a ton, especially when I'm not much of a cake decorator:)... but it was worth it.
Thank you for stopping by. Really appreciate it!

siggy said...

This looks insanely delicious. Your cake artistry is fantastic. I can almost taste it.

Ellie said...

Thanks, Siggy! I still haven't forgot the Dobos torte... one day:).

Thanks for stopping by... have a great day!

Emily said...

This cake looks utterly delicious! I am hoping to also make this cake for my partners birthday.

He adores a good black forest cake and I wondered what the sponge cake is like? I am used to making sponge cakes with ingredients like butter but I don't particularly want to stray from the recipe because that generally doesn't work for me when i start to chop and change. Is it nice and light?

Ellie said...

Emily, Yes, the cake is light... well, as long as the folding of the batter is done right:).

But you know, if you have a good recipe for a sponge cake that you like, you can certainly use that instead. As long as you have some whipped cream , cherries and chocolate, you are good to go.

Hope that helps... and enjoy the baking project!