Saturday, 7 April 2012

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake - For my Daddy 

If one dessert defines my childhood, it's this one. No one in my family was much of a baker and so cakes for all occasions were bought, usually from Safeway, which always had the uber popular Black Forest Cake and so it was inevitably on many of our shopping lists. I have never been to Safeway when there wasn't a perfectly decorated Black Forest Cake sitting in the display window: bright red cherries, perfectly piped white icing, and garnished with oodles of chocolate shavings and cake bits. Birthdays, graduation, New Years Eve, a hungry Saturday - there was Black Forest Cake. 

The biggest supporter of Black Forest Cake in my family, the reason we bought so many, was my dad. I inherited my sweet tooth from him as well as my love for this perfectly put together cake. Moist chocolate cake, sweet cherry filling and layers of light whipped cream icing - how could you not love this cake? 

Exactly. It's impossible. 

My dad, the lover of all things sweet and delicious, passed away in December after battling MS for 15 years. He was always amazingly positive and still found so much joy out of life even though life kept getting harder for him handle. At some point he lost the ability to feed himself but that didn’t stop his love for desserts and, in particular, black forest cake.

To honour Dad, in a way that seemed only natural, I made his favourite cake. 

The chocolate cake part was a great basic recipe for chocolate cake, which I have since used on it's own. 

Although Safeway makes their Recipe available, I decided on a different Recipe from All Recipes - it looked easier! For instance, what is kirschwasser? It's cherry water, apparently. But for my recipe, I found a way to work without it. Instead of kirschwasser and drained Bing cherries, I used Sour Pitted cherries, without draining. I picked them up at Meinhardt

Alas, I came into a problem! Despite the cornstarch, I could not get my cherry layer to thicken. But I turned that frown upside down and instead drizzled the sugared cherry juice onto the layers of the cake, adding the whipped cream icing on top of that. The result was absolutely fabulous! The cake was sweet and unbelievably moist. Best mistake ever? I think so! 

The first cake I made was decorated in the traditional way but I found it too easy to err in the piping detail with the whipped cream icing. 

And I am not very good at piping as it is.

The picture is small for a reason, let's move on. 

My second attempt at the Black Forest Cake was definitely the best and it was the one I shared with my family. I left all of the cherries out of the middle layers, only pouring the juice (and lots of it!) on, as I mentioned before. 

I also decided to decorate it in a way that was unique and more personal. It's not perfectly decorated, but that's what I like about it. It's got some character, and it is still obviously a Black Forest Cake, but it also obviously my own. 

And it tasted awesome. 

I know he would have liked it. 
I think he would have been proud too. 


         2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
         2 cups white sugar
         3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
         1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
         3/4 teaspoon baking soda
         3/4 teaspoon salt
         3 eggs
         1 cup milk
         1/2 cup vegetable oil
         1 tablespoon vanilla extract
         2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries
         1 cup white sugar
         1/4 cup cornstarch
         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
         3 cups heavy whipping cream
         1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch, round, cake pans; cover bottoms with waxed paper.
2.In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
3.Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
4.Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
5.Combine whipping cream and confectioner's sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.
With long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs; set aside. Reserve 1 1/2 cups Frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer. Frost side of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake. Spoon reserved frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.

You can help end MS by donating to the MS Society of Canada. Or you can can support our team, Hugh's Possibilities, in the MS Walk later this month. Thank you! 

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