In my journey to expand my cooking skills and knowledge I had decided I wanted to learn how to make many of the classic and not so classic cakes. I wanted a full repertoire so I wasn’t always relying on the couple cakes I knew were great. Then as I began thinking about seasonal cooking I asked myself if this could be applied to desserts too. Why not?!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. The picture has fresh cherries and this is February. Don’t you live in the midwest? Yes, but seasonal doesn’t have to be taken so literally and no matter what recipe you’re looking at I am sure something in it could be argued as not being seasonal. So for me it’s about thinking about the theme of the season for “seasonal” cakes. Winter is warm, cozy, and richer foods. For breakfasts I look to flavor accents such as cocoa and cherries. They give my Teff Oatmeal with Chocolate, Chestnuts, and Winter Fruits just the accent it needs.
This lead me to a natural conclusion that a chocolate and cherry cake would be perfect in my winter recipe list. So the search began. Looking for a “real” Black Forest Cake recipe. As I started googling around I discovered some interesting things. First off, the original cake is not a cake at all but a gateau. Specifically it’s made using a sponge cake. The next component that is essential are the cherries. This is all about “black cherries. These are not very common to find but it helped me understand this cake is not about the bright red cherries commonly seen on it. Then lastly, and probably most importantly is the liquor. German law mandates that kirschwasser must be present to be called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte the actual name of this delicious dessert.
As I was searching for a recipe one caught my eye. It was on food.com and it was titled Authentic Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwäld Kirsch Kuchen) by Bekah Goertzen. The picture of the cake showed this black cherries on top of a whipped cream iced cake. This made me hopeful I was on the right track. Then I read the intro and she goes on to say,”…it breaks my heart to see all of these ‘black forest cakes’ made with sickeningly sweet icing and gross cherry pie filling…” and I knew this was the one. I did make a few adjustments to ingredients and the instructions but either way this is a delicious cake…
- FOR THE CAKE
- 226 grams Cake Flour
- 56 grams Cocoa Powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 113 grams Shortening
- 300 grams Granulated Sugar
- 2 Eggs (I used large Duck Eggs but regular eggs will work just fine too.)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 12 fl ounces Buttermilk
- FOR THE FILLING (yeilds:548g/274g per layer)
- 1/2 cup Kirsch
- 113 grams Unsalted Butter
- 360 grams Powdered Sugar
- 1 pinch Salt
- ¼ cup espresso
- 1 ½ lbs fresh Black Cherries
- FOR THE ICING
- 16 fl ounces Heavy Whipping Cream
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla
- 2 tablespoons Kirsch
- 2 tablespoons Powdered Milk
- 2 tablespoons Powdered Sugar
Pit most of the cherries leaving about 16 for decoration on top of the cake. Pulse the Cherries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Take half of the chopped cherries and soak them in a jar of the 1/2 cup Kirsch overnight. Set the other half of chopped cherries aside in an airtight container.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9 inch square cake pans with Pam and line with parchment.
Sift the dry cake ingredients together and set aside. Measure out the buttermilk into a pitcher or glass measuring cup and set aside.
In a bowl of a mixer add the sugar, shortening, eggs, and vanilla. Using the flat beater attachment beat until light and fluffy.
Add a 1/3 of the dry ingredients alternating with a 1/3 of the buttermilk, mixing well and scraping down after each addition until both are fully incorporated. Pour evenly into the prepared cake pans (570 grams) in each pan. Bake for 24 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool in the pans.
Drain the soaked cherries (13 ounces), reserving the Kirsch and cherry juice (7 fl ounces). Turn the cakes out onto cooling racks and remove the parchment. Prepare the filling.
Place one of the cakes on your platter or cake board upside down. Placing the cake upside down will give you a very porous surface to absorb the liquid. With a pastry brush liberally apply the reserved liquid. About 2-3 ounces.
To make the filling put the butter, powdered sugar, and salt into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until light and creamy. Then add your espresso and mix well. If the icing liquifies because of the heat of your fresh espresso shots don’t panic! This is OK. Continue to beat the filling at a low speed until the mixture begins to cool and the butter fats begin to thicken again. Slowly increase the speed and beat until smooth and fluffy.
To make the icing pour the whipping cream, powdered milk, powdered sugar and vanilla into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting slowly and gradually increasing the speed, whisk the cream until stiff peaks form. With the mixer still running add the kirsch. (If you would like to ice the entire cake then double this recipe.)
Pipe the whipped cream around the edge of the first layer in a straight line. This will act as a boundary ensuring your filling doesn’t spill out the sides. This is a technique professional bakers will use when icing the whole cake so that it completely and easily fills in the contour where the two cakes meet.
Drain the chopped cherries that were NOT soaking and mix the cherries with half the filling. Spread out on top of the cake up to the edges of the whipped cream. (Note: in the picture my filling had curdled. I am pretty sure this was do to the alcohol with the cherries so I have adjusted the recipe to not use the kirsch with these cherries. Even if it does curdle it still tastes great!)
Slide the second layer on top of the first again making sure the cake is upside down. Repeat the process for drenching the cake in the kirsch and cherry juice. Pipe your boarder with the whipped cream. Fill in with the remaining espresso filling. Sprinkle the soaked chopped cherries over the filling. Pipe whipped cream shapes evenly across the top in a 4×4 grid. Take your reserved whole cherries, stem and all, and gently press them into the whipped cream shapes. (Each cherry indicates a serving.) Let the cake sit in the fridge over night.
When serving this cake will get very messy. With how moist it is there isn’t really a “neat” way to slice and serve but it doesn’t matter. The first bite and no one will care what it looks like because they will be in heaven with how it tastes! Enjoy!
What makes this cake really stand out is that no one flavor takes over. When working with deep dark chocolate flavors, strong alcohol, and espresso not to mention a heap of cherries it would be easy to think it all might just be too much. However this cakes flavors are perfectly balanced and the hint of fine espresso in this recipe is the real winner that takes this dessert just a step further in luxury.