One of my favorite reasons for loving cooking and baking is the adventure. Experimenting with flavors and different techniques is exhilarating. I find it to be very good for my soul. One of the most exciting food adventures recently was Black Forest Cake.
Of course I have heard of Black Forest Cake before. I have probably even eaten it in my lifetime, although I don’t have a memory of it. Cherries are not my all-time favorite fruit, even if Cherry Cheesecake is one of my most loved desserts. The abundance of cherries in Black Forest Cake may have steered me away from it.
According to the food holiday calendar March 28, in addition to food on a stick day, was Black Forest Cake day. It seemed like a good excuse to bake a cake. I spent parts of several hours reading recipes before deciding to combine parts of several.
When searching for recipes I look for things my family will like and a level of difficulty that fits my schedule. This day I had some time to spend on the cake, so it did not have to be easy.
Another intriguing feat within this adventure was the search for cherry flavored liquor. Most of the recipes called for Kirsch, a colorless cherry flavored Brandy. In my little hometown liquor store there was no Kirsch. They did have a cheap brand of cherry brandy; the kind I recall my friends drinking illegally in high school. Even for ‘cheap’ I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend $12 for a few tablespoons of something I wasn’t going to drink. I asked the man working the counter if they had any cherry flavored alcohol in extra small bottles. He produced a Cherry Whiskey in the very small travel size. It ended up working very well.
Sometimes I can judge a recipe’s outcome for my family by how interested they are during the process. This cake was going to be a for sure winner. I had everyone in the house watching, tasting, questioning, and even offering to help.
Between the baking, the cooking of the filling, and the whipping for the frosting it took several hours. That was before we assembled it. I’m glad I had willing assistants for that part. They made it go much more smoothly than it would have with my two hands.
After our food on a stick dinner we all had a piece of Black Forest Cake. It was so rich that Daughter Number Four couldn’t even finish her piece. Daughter Number Three, who I am surprised even tried the cake, finished her piece. Later she lamented that decision. I may have had an out of body experience after eating my piece of cake. I’m not sure if that is because it was delicious or if my blood sugar spiked that much!
The next day both of the girls asked if they could have a piece for an after school snack. I agreed without hesitation. Daughter Number Four exclaimed that it was even better than the day before. I had to agree. The flavors had married together beautifully.
What a perfect adventure in baking. I am glad that I gave up my preconceived idea about Black Forest Cake and made this to celebrate the day. It is something that I will definitely make again to take to a get together when I want to impress!
Black Forest Cake
- ¾ cup cocoa powder + extra for pans
- 2 cups Unbleached Cake Flour + extra for pans
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cans 14-1/2 ounces each pitted tart cherries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons cherry whiskey or cherry brandy
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- Cherries with stems or Maraschino Cherries
- Chocolate curls
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease two 9" cake round cake pans. Flour pans using a mixture of sifted flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
To make the cake: Combine the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Gradually beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes on a wire rack then turn out ontoa rack to cool completely.
For filling: Dain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. In a small saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch and reserved juice; add cherries. Cook and stir over low heat 10-12 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in brandy. Cool completely.
For cream filling and topping: In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. A stand mixer works well for this. Add powdered sugar; beat until stiff peaks form.
To assemble the cake: Using a long serrated knife cut each cake horizontally in half. Place one layer on a cake plate, platter, or stand. Spread a 1/2" layer of cream onto the cake, and top with 1/4 of the cherry mixture. Repeat twice, and top with the final layer of cake. Use the remaining cream to coat the sides and top of the cake. Spoon the remaining cherry mixture in the middle of the cake top. Place cherries around the top, if desired and decorate with the chocolate curls. Refrigerate immediately and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Note: The whipped cream will deflate, so it will not be as fluffy if not eaten within a few hours.