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Black Forest Cake

My dad got me into baking when I was a kid.  He’s not a professional baker, but is good at following directions to a T, which seems to be a good trait in baking. Together we made things like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, frozen chocolate custard, triple chocolate cheesecake, and Black Forest cake.  Hmm…looking back, I’m definitely noticing a trend!

Black Forest Cake

I’ve always baked desserts for holidays, but this past year started baking things for family birthdays rather than giving gifts.  It’s much more fun to give something that you’ve made yourself!

For my dad’s birthday, I asked him what kind of cake was his favorite, and he said that Black Forest was.   Thus began the massive search for recipes on the interwebs…  The version that we made a long time ago had port and sherry in it, but most recipes call for Kirsch, or cherry brandy.

Black Forest Cake

From what I’ve gathered, a traditional Black Forest cake (or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) is basically made up of chocolate sponge cake layered with Kirsch-soaked cherries and whipped cream.  Simple enough, but I ended up finding two recipes that I wanted to try and combined them, hence “Frankencake”.  One is essentially what I just described, but with devil’s food cake.  The other is an inside-out cake that uses pastry cream instead of whipped cream and is topped with ganache.

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Frankencake

from notes from my food diary:
devil’s food cake
cherries and syrup
whipped cream

from 990 Square:
pastry cream
shiny chocolate ganache

Note: I ended up washing four loads of dishes for all of this and am dishwasher-less. Woe is me!

Start with the pastry cream since it has to set for at least two hours.   After you’ve made it, cover it with plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface of it, then refrigerate.   Next, prepare the cherries and syrup, then make the three cake layers.  Once the cakes are cooled, poke a generous amount of holes in the tops with a wooden skewer.  Brush the syrup over the cakes. (I didn’t use all of the syrup because I was worried about the alcohol flavor being too strong, but it wasn’t at all once everything came together.)

Black Forest Cake

Assembly: Place strips of parchment paper along the edges of a cake plate and then add the bottom cake layer.  Scoop 1 1/2 cups of the pastry cream onto the layer and spread it evenly to about a half inch from the edge.  Place some of the cherry halves evenly apart on the cream (I used about 30).  Repeat with next layer.

For the top layer, pour on the ganache and spread it evenly with an offset icing spatula.  Make the whipped cream, then frost the sides of the cake.  I piped rosettes around the top of the cake, then placed cherries in the middles.  Also, I grated some chocolate and lightly pressed the shavings into the sides of the cake. Once you’re finished decorating, remove the strips of parchment, and voila! Pretty cake on a clean plate.

Black Forest Cake

Verdict: Outside of the cake, I didn’t like the flavor of the Kirsch even with the cherries (I did get the cheap stuff…), but once I tried the cake, I could barely taste it!   Next time I’ll be braver with the syrup.   That said, the whole thing was so dang good.  It wasn’t overly sweet and the cake was so chocolaty and moist. This was my first time making pastry cream, and I really liked the texture and flavor that it added.  I’m not even a chocolate cake person (I know, I know), but would definitely make this again.  Especially since I’ve got that bottle of Kirsch…

Black Forest Cake

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