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Black Magic Forest Cake

by on December 17, 2009 · 24 comments

Todd’s birthday was this week and as usual he requested his favorite cake, black forest. I made one yesterday knowing all the while it wasn’t authentic, but rather the “black forest” we’re used to — American style chocolate cake with cherry filling and fresh whipped cream. It’s probably nothing like what you’d get in Germany, but if you do a search for black forest cake, it’s the type that comes up most often and interestingly, seems quite popular in India.

So everyone has their own interpretation of black forest cake and it’s fun to see what’s out there. Most versions use a cherry brandy called Kirschwasser, while some leave it out and just use whipped cream and cherries. The richest of the cakes use all three plus a butter & sugar icing. A couple of years ago I tried one from allrecipes.com and while Todd liked it, I thought it had too strong an alcohol flavor and reverted back to the Kirsch type cake.

After making this cake, I’ve decided I should probably make more black forests cakes and that they should take priority over German chocolate cakes since people around here (Todd) like them better. But this is what I have for now – an easy stir-and-bake black magic cake filled with cherry filling and covered in whipped cream. I put some notes on the bottom to help you along should you decided to make this version.

blackforestcakewhole

Black Magic Forest Cake

Filling:
2 (14.5-16 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries**
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Cake:
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup strong brewed coffee, luke warm or cold (not hot)
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make Filling First: Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Combine reserved juice, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Let mixture boil, stirring constantly, until it thickens to the consistency of thick maple syrup – my sauce never got extremely thick during the boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, almond extract and drained cherries Let cool at room temperature then transfer to refrigerator and chill for about 2 hours or until ready to assemble.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans or spray with baking spray and line with 8 inch rounds of waxed paper or parchment.

Combine milk and vinegar in a mixing bowl and set aside for a few minutes to sour the milk..

Meanwhile, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a second bowl. Mix well to mash out any stray lumps of cocoa powder.

Add the eggs, oil, coffee and vanilla to the bowl with the milk/vinegar mixture and whisk well. Stir in the flour mixture and beat by hand about 50 strokes or until mixed — batter will be thin and lumpy. There shouldn’t be big chunks of cocoa powder, though.

Pour batter into prepared pans and set the pans on a cookie sheet to catch any spills. Bake for 30 -35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean – stick the toothpick right in the center to test, this cake might seem done, but you won’t know for sure unless you test it. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn from pans onto racks. Peel away parchment or wax paper rounds and let cool completely.

Prepare whipped cream before assembling.

Whipped Cream: Beat whipping cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until peaks are stiff.

Assemble Cake

With long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs and set aside. For finer crumbs, you can pulse the cake layer in the food processor. These will be used as garnish.

To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate. Spread with a little whipped cream; top with about 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of whipped cream and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer. Frost side of cake with remaining whipped cream. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake or if you want, just use them on the top as pictured. Arrange a bit more filling on top in a decorative way.

Chill cake until ready to serve.

Notes:

— I used 8 inch pans because I wanted a tall cake, but 9 inch pans would work too. If you use 9 inch round pans, check the cakes at 25 minutes because they’ll probably cook faster.

— The cherry filling is a little runny, but tastes good. It will thicken up a little as it cools. Also, if you use 8 inch pans you’ll probably have some leftover.

— You’ll also have plenty of whipped cream. I like making more than I need so I can pipe extra on top.

— You probably know how to split a cake, but if you’ve never done it, here’s a tip. Stick a skewer through the center of the cake and cut through with a serrated knife, resting the knife on the skewer as you cut. The skewer will guide you right through the cake.

— Even if you only make cakes once in a while, a cake lifter is a GREAT tool. I use it all the time for separating cut layers and for moving cakes from rack to cake plate. They sell cake lifters in the cake decorating aisle of places like Michael’s.

slicingcake

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Published on December 17, 2009

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Ernst December 17, 2009 at 10:43 am

This is a beautiful cake! I’ve never made, or eaten (as far as I remember) a black forest cake. I may have to try this sometime soon. I think I will make one alteration thought — adding a layer of chocolate ganache to both the middle and top (before the whipped cream) to give me that chocolate intensity I always crave. LOL

Jill December 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Thanks so much for the skewer tip! I’d never heard that one before.

Anna December 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm

It may not be something you’d get in Germany, but this cake tasted great! I had some more today and it’s even better on Day 2. Lisa, the extra chocolate might be good, but I don’t think it needs anymore.

Jill, the skewer trick really works! If you don’t have a skewer, a chopstick would probably work just as well.

Louise December 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm

I can’t do it today, but I’ll send you Chef Tell’s Black Forest Cake recipe. I haven’t made it in awhile, and it’s different than the one above, but it’s excellent. It has a chocolate spongecake, kirschwasser, and all the right stuff. I’ll also send the recipe from “Grandma Rose’s Book of Sinfully Delicious Snacks, Nibbles, Noshes & Other Delights”. It’s also excellent. Chef Tell was an early TV chef who came from Germany. He ran into trouble, I believe with his Federal income tax or maybe drugs, and went to one of the islands for awhile.

Joanne December 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm

My friends got me a black forest cake when I got home from running my first marathon. I loved it! Thanks for this recipe, now I can make it myself.

Chris Mower December 17, 2009 at 1:15 pm

The name alone makes me want to eat this. Sounds delicious.

Cheryl December 17, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Yum! I love blackforest cake, but have never attempted to make it – maybe I wont be so scared now:) Hope Todd had a great bday!

Louise December 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Anna, maybe you could overnight me a piece of cake. My birthday is tomorrow. :-)

dawn December 17, 2009 at 3:44 pm

ever since you tweeted about this I’ve been dying to see it. came out great, like everything you make.
I can only imagine your grocery bill, I bet it’s like mine. LOL

Sue December 17, 2009 at 4:50 pm

And you say you’re not crafty or a cake decorator!?Just look at that cake! It’s beautiful!! Good to know you liked the taste of it too.

HeartofGlass December 17, 2009 at 5:50 pm

This was my favorite cake when I was 12 or so–the restaurant where I used to order it made it with chocolate mousse rather than whipped cream. So. good.

There are so many varieties with this cake, I look forward to further experimentation!

Pam Shank December 17, 2009 at 7:58 pm

How beautiful your cake looks. I have never made one but I will after all the holiday madness.

mags December 17, 2009 at 8:14 pm

I’ve never had a black forest cake but you’ve got me wanting to try it. What an impressive birthday cake!

Robbie December 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm

What does a cake lifter look like? Thanks! I’m making your German Chocolate Cake again tomorrow – it’s been a huge success!

Emily December 18, 2009 at 12:18 am

Happy birthday Todd! The cake looks amazing.

Clara Curtis December 18, 2009 at 7:56 am

That looks gorgeous! I definately want to try black forest cake; I feel like a fool for not trying that one yet!

Anna December 18, 2009 at 8:18 am

Todd says thanks for the birthday wishes!

Robbie, this is what a cake lifter looks like.

http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-2103-307-Cake-Lifter/dp/B001BOELLI

Louise December 18, 2009 at 8:55 am

I hope you used Whip it in the whipped cream. It’s the perfect use for the stuff.

Fat Fudge December 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I once made a Black Forrest cake for my nephew from a Maida Heatter book. It was really boozy! The cake was soaked with kirsch, the filling had kirsch and so did the whip cream frosting. I made it the day before I was going to serve it and it was still pretty strong. I told my nephew that it was a good thing he just turned 21, or else he couldn’t had eaten it!

katherine December 22, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Anna,
Do you think I can substitute pitted dark sweet Bing Cherries (in heavy syrup)?? It is the only kind I could find at the grocery store. Thanks.

katherine December 28, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I made this cake for our Christmas Eve dessert. It was outstanding! I did eventually find tart cherries… at $5 a can. Kind of pricey, but well worth it for a special cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Looking forward to making it again.

Anna December 28, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Katherine, thanks for trying it! Sorry the tart cherries were so pricey, but it sounds like they were worth it in the end.

Dani January 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm

mmmm, my sister and I just made THE MOST DELICIOUS black forest cake the other night for my dad…….oooooooooh so good.
Funny thing is, it isnt “black” in any way – the cake is kinda light colored =)
But this is a really good cake recipe, so if you’re gonna try another one soon, I’d really suggest this:
http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Black-Forest-Cherry-Torte
We replaced the kirschwasser with maraschino cherry liquid, and used maraschinos for the cherries on top as well (and had to use half raspberry preserves, half cherry jam for the jam part of this)…I would also suggest reducing the sugar in the icing, as its a very sweet cake.
But so good!

Hannelore Hevesy November 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Hello Dani:

The cake derives its name from the Black Forest region in southwest Germany where I’m from and it’s my favorite cake also. It’s a beautiful area and it’s called “Black” because the trees are predominantly pines and thus it looks darker than with leafy trees mixed in. I’ll try this version, it sounds great. I use some Kirschwasser but not too much so my grandkids can enjoy it too. The Kirschwasser (literally translates as cherry water) from Germany is traditionally made in the Black Forest region and “wasser” in this sense means “Schnapps” (kind of like a German Tequila). By the way, Schnapps is often used by the grownups to settle their stomachs and as for me, Mama always put it on my skinned knees as an antibiotic and it was truly an ouch thing, I’d rather enjoy it in the cake. Guten Appetit!

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