Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Black Forest Cake

So, it was my friend Rich’s birthday (yes, he is 39 again), and that means cake time. Last year for his birthday I made him a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Though he was very happy and grateful, he told me his favorite cake is Black Forest. This year, after having my memory refreshed by his girlfriend and my very good friend Janet, I made him a Black Forest cake. After eating it, Rich told Janet the cake was awesome, but his favorite cake is Black Forest. I’m not sure how our food memory works; I think it has to do more with feelings than with taste buds. That cake on your 6th birthday, whether store bought, out of a box or made from scratch will always be your favorite. For example, my mom’s favorite part of just about any dish is the burnt stuff at the edges. I’m not sure what Rich’s favorite cake is, but here is his Black Forest birthday cake from 2009.

Easy, always turns out perfect, chocolate cake
3oz bittersweet chocolate
1½ cup hot coffee
2½ cup AP flour
1½ cup cacao powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
3 cups sugar
1½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
1½ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Line two 9” round pans with parchment, oil and flour the sides. Though you only need one of these cakes it’s really hard to cut the recipe in half. They do freeze well…
Melt the chocolate with the hot coffee and set to cool at room temp. Sift together flour, cacao, baking powder and baking soda. With electric mixer whip eggs, sugar salt and vanilla. When light and fluffy add the oil gradually. Add the buttermilk to the melted chocolate and coffee. Add the flour mix to the whipped eggs, alternating with the liquids. When alternating the addition of dry and wet ingredients always start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix the batter well to make sure there are no lumps.
Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for about 45 minutes. Rotate in the middle of baking for an even bake. Cake will be ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. Bake the cake at least a day before you assemble.
Before assembling the cake, if your cake has a dome cut it off so the top layer is even, then cut it into three layers. To do so, you need to use a long serrated knife. Cut the cake about ¾” from the top as even as you can. Remove the top slice and repeat. It’s best if you can put each slice on a round cardboard but a plate would do.

Cherry filling
1 quart jar pitted sour cherries in syrup
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

In a sauce pan bring the cherries with the syrup to a boil. You might want to add some sugar or lemon juice to the cherry filling, depending on your taste. When cherries come to a boil, combine the cold water and starch in a small bowl; make sure there are no lumps. Add to the boiling cherries and stir well. Bring back to a boil, remove from flame. Chill. The filling has to be refrigerator cold before you assemble.

1 cup water
8oz sugar
2 Tablespoon Kirsch
Juice of ½ lemon

Combine water and sugar in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute take off the flame and chill. When cold, add Kirsch and lemon.

Whipped cream
4 cups cold manufacturing cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Whip together to medium firm (not sloppy soft, but not butter).
Whip the cream just before you are ready to assemble the cake.

Chocolate shavings
8 oz bittersweet chocolate

Melt the chocolate over steam or in microwave. Spread a very thin layer onto a stainless steel or marble surface. When the chocolate is set, scrape it off the surface with a bench scraper or the edge of a metal spatula to create shavings. Collect the shavings in a wide pan.


Put the first slice of cake down on a board or plate. Brush it heavily with the syrup. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain #6 tip with part of the whipped cream. Pipe a circle of cream on the outer perimeter of the cake, pipe a second and a third going closer and closer to the center on the cake about ½” apart. Pipe a round of cream in the center. Using a spoon fill the gaps between the circles of cream with the cherry filling. Top the cream and cherry layer with a layer of cake. Repeat the whole process. Top with the third layer and brush with syrup.
Use the rest of the cream to ice the sides and top of the cake leaving a little aside for decorating.
Working above the wide pan with the shavings, hold the cake with one hand and attach the chocolate shavings to the outside of the cake with the other. Keep turning the cake and pressing the shavings into it until the sides are all covered, keep reusing the shavings as they fall back into the pan.
Use the left over cherries and cream to decorate as you please.

The cake is best made at least 4 hours before serving and must be stored in the refrigerator. Good Luck!

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