Black Forest Cake

With the summer cherry season coming to a close how could I not go out with a bang? I’m going retro & brining back a dessert that should never have fallen out of fashion, black forest cake. It’s as good now as it was in the 70’s & 80’s, even better I’d argue as let’s face it, we have got better tastes these days!

Black Forest Cake

Whilst black forest cake was invented long before it’s heyday here in the UK, there’s a lot of misconception over the region that this wonderful cake takes its name from. The Black Forest (or Schwarzwald- A-Level German really paid off) mountain range in south-west Germany is heralded as the birthplace of this popular dessert, however the name actually derives from the inclusion of one of it’s key ingredient, Kirch or Kirch Wasser, a fiery cherry liqueur which originates in the region known for its sour cherries. In fact, the cake itself boasts a protected status, meaning that without the inclusion of kirch, a cake cannot be classed as a black forest cake.

Black Forest Cake

Obviously, boozy desserts aren’t for everyone & during it’s popularity here in the UK, kirsch was considered an exotic, expensive ingredient & so was often omitted, hence we call it black forest gateau. Whether your enjoy a tipple or not though, there’s no denying that the combination of big juicy cherries, soft whipped cream & chocolate is a match made in heaven! I’ve stayed true to a classic here but given here a slightly more modern look with a chocolate shard decoration but by all means, switch it up for chocolate shavings, chocolate chunks or a glistening drizzle of melted chocolate.

Black Forest Cake

BLACK FOREST CAKE
(makes an 18cm layer cake)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 300g plain flour
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml rapeseed oil
  • 225g natural yogurt
  • 225ml boiling water

For the filling & covering:

  • 6 tbsp kirch or cherry vodka
  • 700ml double cream
  • 35g icing sugar
  • 350g cherries, pitted & halved

To decorate (optional):

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 20g toasted flaked almonds
  • 8 – 10 cherries
  • A little cocoa powder

Method:

To make the cake:

  • In a large jug, combine the eggs, vanilla, yogurt, oil & boiling water
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & bicarbonate
  • Add the sugar to the bowl & stir to combine
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients & add in the wet yogurt mixture
  • Fold everything together until smooth & no pockets of dry flour remain
  • Divide the mixture evenly between 3 greased & lined 18cm sandwich tins
  • Bake in the oven at 180C for 40 – 45 minutes, until the cakes are springing back to the touch when pressed lightly with a finger in the centre
  • Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 mins before removing & placing on a wire cooling rack until cooled

To fill & assemble the cake:

  • In a large clean bowl add the cream & icing sugar & use a whisk or hand mixer to whip up the cream until it becomes thick enough to hold its shape
  • Place one of the sponges onto the stand or serving plate for the cake & secure it with a little of the cream underneath
  • Next, brush the cake with 2 tbsp of the kirsch
  • Now, add approximately one quarter of the cream on top of the cake & spread evenly with a spatula
  • Scatter over half of the cherries before adding on the next layer of sponge & repeating with the second sponge
  • Add the final sponge layer & again brush with the kirsch
  • Take out a few spoonfuls of the whipped cream & set aside for decorating the cake
  • Use the remaining whipped cream & a spatula to spread & cover the whole cake with it

To decorate the cake:

  • To make the chocolate shards, break up the chocolate & place the in a heatproof bowl
  • Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water & gently melt the chocolate until smooth
  • Set the chocolate aside to cool until it thickens a little
  • Once thickened, spread the chocolate across two pieces of baking parchment before carefully rolling them up a little
  • Place in the fridge to set (around 20-30 minutes)
  • Once set, unroll the chocolate & break into nice long shards
  • Next, take the toasted flaked almonds & gently press them along the sides of the cake
  • Now, using a little of the reserved whipped cream as a sort of glue, arrange the chocolate shard all along the outside of the cake
  • Finally, add the remaining whipped cream into a piping bag & pipe a few swirls on top of the cake before dusting each one with a little cocoa powder & popping a cherry on top

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