Summer is in full swing and it is wonderful to have a show-off cake in your repertoire. My Classic Black Forest Cake always gets rave reviews and is a stunning summer time dessert. Something magical happens after the combination of cream, cherries, chocolate and Kirsch, a cherry based liqueur. The cake recipe is so simple and makes a delicious and moist cake. The real time-consuming element is the assembly.
I know it may seem complicated, but you can use a cake mix if you are pressed for time. If you are not good with a piping bag, you can just spoon little piles on top of the cake – or eliminate the rosettes altogether. I would not use a canned whipping cream dispenser as the cream melts so quickly.
European cakes often call for simple syrup, which is simply water and sugar combined in equal amounts, brought to the boil to dissolve the sugar, and then cooled. Leftover syrup is perfect for mixed drinks (I was once a bartender and this is one of their tricks) and in fruit salads.
Kirsch may be hard to find – you can substitute another liqueur if you like or omit it altogether if you do not like alcohol in your cakes. By the way, Kirsch is that secret ingredient in Swiss Cheese Fondue.
Chef Elizabeth's Classic Black Forest Cake
2 1/3 cups lukewarm water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup Kirsch liqueur, optional
See notes above.
1 jar (500 ml) pitted sour cherries, drained and soaked in Kirsch
2 to 3 cups heavy cream
2 packets (9 grams each, about 2 teaspoons) Dr. Oetker Vanilla Sugar
2 packets (10 grams each, about 2 teaspoons) Dr. Oetker Whip It (whipping cream stabilizer)
1 teaspoon Kirsch
3 to 4 ounces grated semi-sweet chocolate
8 macerated sour cherries
1. Heat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch pans, or use parchment paper liners; set aside. If you like, you can use 4 pans, but I slice my cake once it has cooled after baking to create layers.
To prepare cake:
2. In large bowl or mixer, place water, oil, eggs, vanilla, sugar and cocoa powder. Beat on low speed, or by hand, for about 2 minutes, or until batter is well-blended.
3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt, and then add to cocoa mixture. Beat for additional 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl. NOTE: This batter is very thin.
4. Divide into pans and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
5. While cakes bake, prepare Simple Syrup; set aside.
To prepare filling:
6. Drain cherries (reserve juice to add to simple syrup if you like) and soak cherries in some Kirsch.
7. Once cooled, cut each cake in half. If you made just 2 layers, sprinkle with Simple Syrup and/or Kirsch. (I do both. You may have to level off the cakes at this stage or they will not stack easily.)
8. Whip heavy cream and add vanilla sugar and stabilizer as cream thickens, if desired (it does help), and flavour with some Kirsch, if desired.
To assemble cake:
9. Assemble cake by spreading some whipped cream on top of 1 layer of cake and distributing cherries evenly on top, then repeat process.
To decorate cake:
10. Grate chocolate and sprinkle on sides and top of layered cake.
11. Pipe 8 rosettes of whipped cream and top each rosette with 1 Kirsch marinated cherry.