We love Black Forest Cake, and there are so many ways to make it! I've tried everything from the authentic sounding type made with Kirschwasser and buttercream, to the convenience version made with cake mix and canned cherry pie filling. In the end, I usually end up making some kind of hybrid. That means something like a scratch chocolate cake, homemade or canned pie filling, and lots of fresh whipped cream.
This small Black Forest Cake falls into the hybrid version. Instead of regular chocolate cake, it's composed of a thin chocolate sponge cake baked in a jellyroll pan, then cut and stacked. It only calls for 6 tablespoons of flour, and has no butter or oil. All the fat comes from the egg yolks.
The original version was made with two 10x15 inch layers which you cut into rectangles and stack to make a log. Because Black Forest Cake gets kind of soggy as it sits around (and there are only two of us to eat it), I made a smaller version using one layer of cake cut into six squares. Stacking was a bit of a challenge, but it came together in the end. My only regret was that I didn't have a stemmed Maraschino cherry to top it off.
Canned Cherry Filling or Topping
If you're not ready to make a Small Black Forest Cake, but are interested in making cherry filling with canned cherries, the cherry filling recipe might be useful. It calls for one 14.5 can of pitted cherries. You drain the cherries, make a gel with ¼ cup of the canned cherry juice, sugar and cornstarch, then add back the cherries along with some vanilla and almond extracts. The brand of cherries I used was Oregon canned tart. They do break apart as you stir, but in this case it's beneficial. The broken cherries make stacking easier. If you use canned filling with whole cherries, the cake may be a little wobbly. I think it would work, though.
Small Black Forest Cake
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (48 grams)
- ¼ cup Dutch process cocoa powder (24 grams)
- ⅝ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs separated and at room temperature
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (124 grams)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 14.5 ounce can pitted tart cherries
- ½ scant cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
Whipped Cream and Garnishes
- 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Chocolate syrup and a stemmed cherry
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan and line with wax paper. Grease and flour the wax paper.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder, then stir in the salt. Set aside.
- In a bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
- In a second bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Beat in the vanilla, then stir the egg yolks into the whites.
- Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
- Spread the mixture evenly across the pan. It will seem thin, but will puff up in the oven.
- Bake for 12 minutes or until layers appear set. Loosen from the edges with a knife, and then carefully turn onto a wire rack. Remove pan and carefully peel away the paper. Let cool completely.
- Prepare the filling. Drain cherries, reserving ¼ cup juice. Combine reserved ¼ cup juice, cherries, ½ cup sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in extracts and let cool completely.
- Prepare the whipped cream. Combine whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla.
- Assemble the cake. Cut the cake into 6 squares. Put one square on a cake plate and spread about 3 tablespoons to ¼ cup of whipped cream over it. Spoon about 3 tablespoon of the cherry filling across it. Repeat, layering squares of cake, whipped cream and filling, until you have a stack. Cover the entire stack with whipped cream. Decorate by piping more whipped cream around edges, or garnish with chocolate syrup and a stemmed cherry.