It was only when I grew up and studied food that I realised just how good a proper Black Forest cake could be. Fake cream, inferior products and the use of substitute ingredients to keep the price down are all factors that come together to give us those below-par Black Forest cakes.
Black Forest cake is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its native land, Germany. It literally means “Black Forest cherry cake”. Contrary to popular belief, the name Black Forest doesn’t refer to the famous Black Forest in Germany, but to the liqueur from that region called kirschwasser.
German law prohibits anyone from calling a cake a Black Forest cake if it doesn’t contain kirschwasser (we refer to it simply as kirsch in English-speaking countries). What has happened over the years in retail stores is that a lot of imitation flavourings have been added to save on cost. Traditionally, the cake is also topped with real black cherries (I personally frown on the use of maraschino cherries in anything that is not a sundae).
Okay, enough with the history lesson. Here is my Black Forest cake recipe:
For the sponge
. 125g butter
. 210g castor sugar
. 5ml vanilla essence
. 3 eggs
. 110g apricot jam
. 210g cake flour
. 3g baking powder
. 5ml bicarbonate of soda
. pinch of salt
. 50g cocoa powder
. 250ml buttermilk
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light, soft and fluffy.
Add the jam and beat until incorporated.
Slowly add your eggs one by one, beat well.
Sift your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and gradually add them to the egg-and-butter mixture, while also adding your buttermilk at the same time.
Pour evenly into three separate cake tins.
Bake at 170°C for about 40 minutes.
For the cherry compote
. 200g brown sugar
. 300ml water
. 100ml kirsch liqueur
. 200g fresh cherries, stoned and halved
Place a pot on the stove and place the water, kirsch and sugar in it. Stir until well mixed and allow to dissolve at a medium heat.
Stir the liquid every now and then to make sure the sugar dissolves completely.
Once the sugar crystals are completely dissolved, add your cherries to the pot.
Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup. Set aside to cool at room temperature (don’t place it in the fridge).
For the cocoa gelée
. 240ml water
. 480g sugar
. 315ml cream
. 150g sifted cocoa powder
. 8 gelatine leaves
. 20ml vanilla essence
In a large saucepan, bring the water, cream and sugar to the boil.
Slowly whisk in the cocoa (be careful, the mixture will bubble a bit) and boil the mixture for four minutes, whisking continuously.
Remove the pan and place a sheet of plastic on the surface. Allow it to cool to 82°C (use a thermometer, the temperature is important to achieving a glossy product).
Stir the hydrated gelatine into the cocoa mixture until well combined. Add the vanilla essence.
Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
Heat the gelée to 49°C and pour over the cake once melted.
. 500ml double cream
. 200g fresh, whole cherries
. Dark chocolate shavings
. Kirsch liqueur
Once all your components have cooled (I would recommend you make the gelée, sponges and compote the day before and leave covered at room temperature overnight), you can start assembling the cake.
Whip the cream to a stiff peak.
Place one sponge layer on a cake board or plate and drizzle some Kirsch over the sponge. Spoon a layer of the compote on top, followed by the whipped cream.
Repeat the above process by placing the second sponge on top of the cream layer and do the same with the second layer.
With the top (third layer), drizzle the Kirsch, but don’t place the cherry compote on top; instead, heat the cocoa gelée until runny and pour it over the top of the cake. It will set after a few minutes and create a permanent “runny” look around the sides of the cake.
Place some of the whipped cream into a piping bag and pipe a few peaks on top of the cake and around the base of the cake. Place a cherry on the top of each cream peak.
Spoon the remaining compote onto the top of the cake and grate some dark chocolate over it (or, if already shaved, sprinkle the shavings by hand randomly on the top). The cake is a fresh one and therefore should be served as soon as possible, otherwise the cream will become runny.
Check out more recipes on Semenya’s blog at lesdachef.wordpress.com
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