“Cakes are like books: There are new ones you want to read and old favourites you want to reread – Ellen Rose
A Black Forest cake or gateaux is one that you just need to know how to bake , if you are a baker of cakes in India atleast. Maybe things are changing now , but it is still oft requested as a birthday cake. And even when some wouldn’t know the difference between Swiss and Italian buttercream , they wouldn’t know what ganache or meringue is . But everyone, and I mean everyone knows the Black Forest cake.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a cake I love when it’s done well. Liqueur or cherry juice soaked layers of chocolate sponge, sandwiched with sweetened whipped cream and chopped cherries …. What’s not to love.
This is an alcohol free version made with a can of cherries. Yes, fresh work as well or better , and you can use those if you can get your hands on a good bunch . From start to finish , this cake will take you less than a couple of hours but when the end result looks and tastes this awesome , no one will believe that !
You ‘ ll need :
- 6 eggs
- 200 grams or 1 cup granulated sugar
- 64 grams or 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 50 grams or 1/2 cup cocoa , unsweetened or Dutch processed
For the icing and filling :
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (I used tropolite)
- 45 grams or 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 150 grams or about 12 -15 cherries
For the syrup :
- 3/4 cup cherry juice from the can or water
- 50 grams or 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Optional for decoration:
- 8 cherries with stems on
- chocolate shavings from about 50 gram chocolate
Makes : one 4 layer 8 inch round cake
Time : about 2 hours (including 30 mins baking time per cake)
Lets get started:
Make your cakes: Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F. If you can’t bake two 8 inch cakes at once in your oven , make half the recipe (3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar , 1/4 cup flour , 1/4 cup cocoa) one after the other. Beat eggs and sugar for 12-15 minutes until pale, fluffy and tripled in volume. Sift in flour and cocoa. Fold in gently. Pour batter into an 8 inch pan (bottom lined with parchment) and bake for 25-30 minutes until edges shrink away from pan and top is springy. Read the complete step-by -step with pictures here. Let cakes cool completely and using a serrated knife , split each into 2 halves . You ‘ ll have 4 layers each atleast an inch high.
Prepare your simple syrup : Take 3/4 cup of the juice from the can of cherries or water if you are using fresh cherries. Taste ( the cherry juice , not the water) and add sugar accordingly. I used 1/4 cup , use 1/2 cup – 1 cup for water depending on how sweet you like your cakes. Bring to boil until sugar is dissolved.Simmer for five minutes and cool completely .
Prepare your cherries: Drain any juice from cherries and dry them with a clean paper towel . Chop into pieces . You can keep them whatever size you like. I chopped them around 1/2 cm each as these dont interrupt slicing the cake !
Whip your cream : Beat chilled heavy cream with the 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla until firm peaks. Chill until required.
Assemble : Take one layer of cake . Using a pastry brush or spoon , brush it with the soaking syrup on top and sides. Spread about 1/4 cup whipped cream . Using a piping bag or spatula , build a dam (See picture) on the side, this is so that cherries stay in and dont get into your icing . Spread chopped cherries. I spread a thin layer of cream and few cherries as there will be four layers . Top with another layer of cake and repeat with 2 more layers. For the top cake , make sure the bottom of a cake is on top ( so that its flat and smooth). Soak with syrup.
At this point , you can rest it in the fridge / freezer for 15- 20 minutes so it all settles a bit. Next spread half cup whipped cream on top and spread all around the sides (crumb coat) . If crumbs are seen , chill again and apply another half cup. Decorate as you wish. I used chocolate shavings and stemmed cherries. Refrigerate (not freeze) until needed.
- You can prepare the cakes, syrup , cherries before hand , but making whipped cream just before using is best.
- Keep chilled at all times and bring to room temperature before serving
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream gave me enough (with some remaining) for crumb coating , covering and piping on top . Adjust accordingly .
- This cake tastes best once it has a few hours to rest and soak in the flavours. Make it a little early for the best taste.
- As its a tall cake, it can easily feed 12 people – 16 people.
I get praised for this cake more than any other cake of mine. It might just be because its everyone’s favourite black forest ! But all humility aside, this is one hell of a great tasting cake. The layers are moist , the cream is billowy and the cherries add that sweetness and texture . And since the sponge is so light , even with four layers , it is so so light . If you want to impress someone with your baking skills , this is the one to try !
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