Monday, September 7, 2009

Black Forest Cake, a.k.a. the Drunken Cherry Cake

IMG_2865

I'm very late in sharing this cake with you, but that doesn't detract from the fact that this is the best damn cake I've ever made. It's kind of a big statement, given some of my previous experiments - the Strawberry Cream Cake, the Nutella Chocolate Cake or the Tiramisu Cake (dubbed "Temptation" by the birthday girl) - but this, this cake topped them all. I'm a little lost for words to describe it, though, which is kind of embarrassing for a food bogger and a lawyer. Let's first start with the perfect combination of ingredients - soft, light as air chocolate sponge cake that's been soaked in kirsch; big, juicy, tart brandied cherries; perfectly sweet whipped cream cushioning said cherries; and cold, crunchy chocolate curls. I mean, it just doesn't get much better than this.

IMG_2874
Food Photos1-22
IMG_2423

This cake was for my dear dad's birthday, so you can imagine the days I spent flipping through recipes to find something that reflects his strength, wisdom, kindness and overall mench-ness. It just so happened that at the same time, I was reading "Confections of a Closet Master Baker" that I told you about in the previous post, and as I was getting deeper into the book and the author's remembrances about her family and the kuchens her German mom and grandmother used to make, the idea for a Black Forest Cake took over my mind and didn't let go. It seemed the perfect cake for my dad - complex and dark, full of strong flavors, and also, totally and completely liquored up. It was an awesome cake, best cut and shared in big, dramatic, drunken slices.

IMG_2463
Food Photos1-26
IMG_2451

Black Forest Cake
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
(makes 3 9-in layers)

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp cake flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
7 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Brandied cherries (1 lb cherries, 1/2 cup kirsch [I used 1 cup])
Chilled chocolate curls, for decoration

The night before:
Pit the cherries and halve them, reserving 9 or 10 whole cherries for decoration. Submerge the cherries in kirsch. I found that 1/2 cup was not enough and I used 1 cup (I figured, I could always drink the leftovers later). Leave in the refrigerator at least overnight. Prepare the chocolate curls and put them in the refrigerator to chill. (The authors also suggest you could use frozen cherries - thaw them and then combine the cherries and their juices with the kirsch)

The day of: Preheat the oven to 350F and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Do not grease pans.

Sift the cocoa powder and cake four together, set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium high for about a minute, to blend. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and beat on medium high for 3-5 minutes, until the eggs are a light yellow color and the stream of eggs, when the beater is lifted, leaves a thick ribbon.

Sift the cocoa powder and flour into the eggs in 3 additions, gently folding after each addition. Take care not to deflate the batter, but make sure that no large pockets of dry ingredients remain. This is kind of tricky, so just make sure to fold thoroughly and have a very light hand when folding.

Divide among 3 9-in round (or 8-in square) pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. The cake is very fragile, so you need to cool it in its pan for at least an hour before attempting to take it out. When cool, gently run a knife around the cake edge and (again, gently) flip over onto a cake board. Remove the parchment paper.

Make the whipped cream: in a chilled bowl, beat the heavy cream on medium-high speed for one minute, until frothy, and then, still beating, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract. Beat until hard peaks form and the cream is fairly stiff.

Drain the cherries and reserve the liquid.

Assemble the cake:
Place one layer on a cake board or cake plate. With a teaspoon or a pastry brush, soak the layer with about 1/3 of your cherry brandy (for me, that was about 1/4 cup). Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on top of the layer. Then spread half of the cherries and cover with a little more whipped cream. Place the next layer on top and repeat. Place the third and final layer on top and soak it with the remaining cherry brandy. Now, frost the cake with the remaining whipped cream. The cake is really crumbly, but since you will be covering the sides with chocolate shavings, you do not need a crumb layer. Once frosted, decorate with chocolate shavings and the 9-10 whole cherries you set aside in the beginning. This cake is better left standing for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving so that the layers can really soak through and the flavors can meld.

41 comments:

The Food Librarian said...

Looks delicious!!! I love the Sky-High book. All the cakes are just so pretty.

Brentwood Kitchen Shopper said...

I knew this one was going to beat all the others!!! Just because it was for your daddy! The pictures look amazing, I can't imagine what it tasted like.

Asha @ FSK said...

Oh I love love black forest cake and yours looks positively scrumptous!!! If only I could grab a piece of your cake through my laptop screen!!!!!

Peabody said...

That is so beautiful. Oh how I wish I could get my cakes to look that pretty.

Happy cook said...

Wow wish i would make a cake like this. I am not that god in makinf laye cakes, wish i had a huge slice.

Irene said...

Thanks, guys, but I'm actually a terrible cake decorator - this one was a little lopsided... whoops. The "Sky-High" book is amazing, they give you photos and I just worked from that. It's my favorite cake book, hasn't steered me wrong yet!

Ramya Kiran said...

Oh my.. the cake looks so pretty and creamy! lovely clicks!

ChichaJo said...

Wow! Your Black Forest looks gorgeous! Not lopsided at all! I'm sure your dad was thrilled!

oneordinaryday said...

This looks amazing! I just love the Sky High book, but I rarely have an occasion to bake any of their stunning cakes.
Happy birthday to your dear dad. He's a lucky guy to get this masterpiece.

Elra said...

Gorgeous photos Irene. And the cake looks wonderful. It's my family old time favorite too.

Ash said...

I believe I own this book too! Your cake just looks amazing! I'm sure your Dad was a happy man with this cake!

5 Star Foodie said...

Gorgeous cake! Black Forest cake is my husband's absolute favorite, I need to make it for him soon!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Beautiful cake! The first time I had black forest cake was in Germany and it was fantastic! I bet your Dad enjoyed it...he is lucky to have such a sweet daughter bake him something this delicious!

Helene said...

Love Black Forest cake, one of my favorite. This looks so yummy.

Ingrid said...

Wish I liked chocolate as this is a gorgeous looking cake!

Happy Birthday to your Dad!
~ingrid

Lynda said...

What an amazing looking cake, so tall and delicious looking! You did a wonderful job and I bet your dad loved it!

delightfullysweet said...

Amazing cake with amazing photography! Can't wait to try this one out!

Jennifer said...

Better late than never :) thanks so much for sharing such a magnificent looking cake!!

THE ACTORS DIET said...

this looks great - your lucky pop!

Larissa said...

I've never been much of a cake person, but that looks AMAZING.

Palidor said...

What an awesome birthday cake for your dad. It looks absolutely perfect.

NuJoi said...

This is one of my favorite cakes. I think it will be my New Year's Eve cake of choice. Thanks for the post. I want one now.

Patricia Scarpin said...

That is a work of art. Absolutely beautiful - and looks delicious, too!

Anonymous said...

Impressed as usual, dear Irene! Especially since you took the trouble to actually use fresh cherries, it does make all the difference (I only made Schwartzwald once,in the winter, and used the canned version, a Polish-made sour cherry compote, which was pretty good btw). I must try and make the fresh cherry version come summer, using your recipe and your heroic lead.

Le Shana Tova, dearest!

Fiona

Michelle said...

This looks sinful, and delicious, and like everything I've ever wanted lol. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I don't know if my attempt will come out as beautiful, but I can sure try! I love the cherry addition. I actually work with Del Monte, and if you're looking for more ways to enhance your recipes, our citrus bowls and superfruit make a sweet compliment to simple flavor combinations :). Our fruit comes pre-peeled so it's ready to use, and it's affordable. If you visit our website, you can browse though different recipes (the almond peach cake is really good!), and even pick up some coupons. I hope you enjoy!

http://bit.ly/qYT4q

Julia said...

That is a mouthwatering cake! I do wonder, where do you find the time for all the cooking?:)

chocolatecup said...

i came across this looking for a recipe for a blackforest cake and i must say it looks most delicious. i am attempting to make one myself today and i hope it will turn out ok. will probably because of time constraints soak the cherries for as long as i can and not overnight but wish me luck:)

tara said...

I am going to make this for my hubby's birthday! I can't wait! I have never had it before and he always talks about how his grandma made it growing up and how good it is. Iv'e never eaten it.

Anyway I have a question about letting it age before eating. Does this need to be aged on the counter or in the fridge? I would assume with the whipped cream that it needs to go in the fridge, but I want to be sure...?

Irene said...

Hi Tara, definitely let it age in the refrigerator. Good luck and I hope you like this!

alice said...

How do you think it would turn out if I baked the cake the night before assembling?

I have to make this cake after reading that this is the best cake you've ever made! I hope mine turns out as delicious and pretty as yours!

Irene said...

Hi Alice, you can definitely bake the cake the night before. In fact, this is what I did. Just be mindful of the fact that this cake is very fragile, so wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and handle very carefully.

Marie said...

Hi, I am considering making this cake for a birthday and I have a question about the cake base itself: I noticed it is the traditional sponge cake type; would it matter much if I used a moister chocolate cake, like the Hershey's perfectly chocolate cake? I know some prefer their cakes a little drier, but I would prefer it moist and I'm a little hesitant to try the sponge cake. However, would you say that it would be too moist if I tried to change the cake?

Marie said...

(just to add something I forgot) In your opinion, would the cake be too dry if you only used 1/2 cup of Kirsch?
Thank you so much! It really does look gorgeous, btw!

Irene said...

Hi Marie, I think you can use any chocolate cake you like. If you use a moister cake, then 1/2 cup of Kirsch should be enough, but if you are using a dryer cake or a sponge, I would use all the Kirsch. :)

Squishy said...

Hi Irene!

I have a quick question about this cake. My MIL wants a black forest cake for her birthday. I've made a recipe out of the sky high book before...the chocolate peanut butter cake and she was in love with the cake from that recipe. Do you think the cake from that recipe would work well with this particular cake?

Irene said...

Yes, I think any chocolate cake recipe would work with this cake. The reason a sponge cake works best is because: (1) it soaks up the liquid better than a butter cake and (2) when you refrigerate a sponge cake, it doesn't get hard like a butter cake. If you are going to use a butter cake (or a denser cake) for this recipe, poke holes in the cake with a toothpick prior to soaking and also make sure to take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving.

Anonymous said...

is this the same type of cake as the russian "drunken cherry" cake? ive been trying to find it for my ukrainian fiance and ive been craving it myself.

kaelenmorris said...

Hi Irene! i found this recipe while searching for a sschwarzwälder kirsch torte
recipe for my german husbands birthday! i just made it and i have to say im suuuuuper disappointed in the way the cake turned out?! its like a spongey rock!???? like rubbery almost! what did I do wrong? I made no alterations to your original recipe, although something for sure went wrong..... HELP :)

Irene said...

Hi Kaelen. I'm so sorry it didn't work out. I truly don't know what happened! My cake came out light, very fragile and delicate, not hard at all. Maybe you overbaked it? It could happen because oven temperatures vary majorly - does your oven run hot? Or did you leave it out on the countertop for a long time? I think sponge cakes tend to dry out if left uncovered, but I really don't know. I'm sorry!

Ramona said...

Black Forest Cherry Cake is my all time favorite since a young girl. My Mother would by this for me at a German Backery every year on my Birthday. Although I am no Baker, period. When I read your recipe and how you make this cake, I wish you were my neighbor..LOL..This kind of cake is hard to get right. But you did everything right. I bet your father was very happy and appreciate it very much. i commend you!

Nancy Stenberg said...

Thank you for sharing a genuinely amazing cake... It is one of my father's favorites I'm taking him a slice tonight... Hope he loves it