Cherries, glorious cherries!
My friend Sarah and I once spent a long afternoon pitting fresh cherries to make a Black Forest Cake. Recently she reminded me of how good it was, and this inspired me to make it again.
Fresh cherries are not a typical filling for the traditional Schwarzwäldertorte, or Black Forest Cake, which primarily use cherry compote or sour cherries. But 'tis the season, so I bought a cheap kilo of the little gems from the market, just about to leave their prime. Perfect candidates to get stuffed in a cake.
The Black Forest Cake probably isn't named for the actual Black Forest, but for the spirit that was used to make the cake, Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser, a kind of cherry brandy that was distilled from Black Forest cherries. Or it might be named after the traditional costumes of the Black Forest, which are reminiscent of chocolate, cream, and cherries on top (video below from this great website).
Initially a dessert with cherries, booze, and cream was enjoyed, and later biscuit was added and it morphed into the cake that is so popular today. There are conflicting reports of the actual origin, but the cake itself has only gained in popularity throughout the years.
For the cakes
220 g butter, softened
300 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
260 g flour
65 g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, baking soda, and salt
375 ml buttermilk
Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / gas mark 4.
Butter two 20 cm / 8 inch round metal cake pans and line bottoms with parchment or waxed paper.
In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
With a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake for about 50 minutes, or until you can smell the cake, the sides pull away from the pan, and when you press on the top it springs back completely.
Filling for the middle layers
300 ml whipping cream
2 tbsp kirsch
175 grams dark chocolate
Chop chocolate finely and place in bowl.
In saucepan, bring cream and kirsch just to a boil. Pour over the finely chopped chocolate and let sit for a moment, then whisk until smooth.
Refrigerate until chilled (about one hour) then beat until soft peaks form.
You'll probably need about 750 g of pitted cherries. You can soak them in kirsch if you like a boozy cake.
Save about 10-12 whole cherries for garnish.
500 ml whipping cream
50 g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff enough to spread.
Cut the cakes horizontally in half, and spread the mousse and pitted cherries on each layer. I like to form a border with the cherries, and spread the mousse inside.
Then, cover the whole cake with the whipped cream and garnish with cherries.
- If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own: mix one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice with milk and let sit 5 minutes
- If you overwhip your cream (trust me, I've been there) simply fold in a little of the liquid cream and his should bring you back to a better consistency.
- Don't worry about getting the outside too perfect looking (I certainly didn't), the cream can be hard to spread on a warm day and the layers can move around a bit. A couple of hours in the fridge should sort this out.