Black Forest Cake

Sometimes I need to create a big, in your face cake. Sometimes a dainty little biscuit isn’t quite going to cut it. I need 4 layers of dark chocolate cake soaked in kirsch and smothered in mascarpone cream and cherries. And I might just throw chocolate shavings on top because that’s the kind of mood I’m in. 

I went to a fair bit of effort to make this cake. I know there are a hundred black forest recipes out there I could have turned to for inspiration but I chose one from ‘Lomelinos Tårtor (Cakes)’ by Linda Lomelino. I really really want this book. It’s not available on Amazon or anywhere else that isn’t Swedish (there I go again) and, oh yes, the whole book is written in Swedish. I found the recipe for her black forest cake on the preview page for the book, I printed it off and Google Translate and I spent a very happy hour together working out the recipe in English. I then had to convert it from cups to grams. But after all that, it worked! It’s such a delicious cake and if you are throwing a Christmas or New Year’s party and want an amazing show off dessert I would insist that you make this. It’s not that difficult, it just has a few parts to deal with before you assemble it. Linda’s blog, Call Me Cupcake, is heaven. She takes the most beautiful pictures and creates just plain stunning cakes, mine looked like the original’s ugly sister but I was going for a rustic look because I just can’t pull of smooth, sophisticated elegance (in cake or real life).

On my payday at the end of November I proudly marched into the supermarket and bought a jar of Opies  black cherries in kirsch (clearly I splash out on pay day). I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it (besides eat it out of the jar) but I knew I was being fancy by having it in my life. I don't buy really expensive ingredients that often but I do like to splurge every now and then, be it on kirsch soaked cherries or bottles of Sailor Jerry rum for baking purposes - who am I kidding, I only needed 50ml but I bought 350…where’s the coke? I once made the very silly mistake of thinking value cocoa powder would do anywhere near as good a job as Bourneville or Green & Blacks. The result was some very anaemic looking brownies. I pitied them as I ate them. I never have baking problems using basics flour, I always give it a good sift before using and it never lets me down. It can get expensive baking all the time so it's good to learn what to splurge on and what to save on. This is a cake to splurge on I think.

Black Forest Cake

For the chocolate cake:
50g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
400g plain flour
170g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
470g caster sugar
1 large egg
350ml whole milk
225ml boiling water

For the chocolate ganache:
50g dark chocolate
120ml double cream

For the mascarpone frosting:
250g mascarpone
300g icing sugar
450ml double cream

For the filling:
1 jar of 390g jar of cherries in kirsch

For decoration:
250g fresh cherries with stalks
dark chocolate shavings
  1. For the cake: Pre-heat the oven to 175 C/350 F. Grease and line two 18 or 21cm cake tins and set aside.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all the other ingredients and mix until smooth. 
  3. Divide between the cake tins and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a cocktail stick comes out clean. 
  4. For the ganache: Break up the chocolate and place in a bowl. In a small pan, warm the cream until boiling point and then pour over the chocolate. Leave for a minute before gently stirring. Let the ganache stand in room temperature until it is firm enough to spread on the cakes.
  5. For the mascarpone frosting: Mix the mascarpone and icing sugar a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the double cream until stiff and then stir into the mascarpone mix. 
  6. To assemble: Divide each of the cooled cakes into 2 to create 4 layers. Separate the jarred cherries from the kirsch into separate bowls. Place the first base on a plate and spoon over 1/4 of the kirsch cherry juice evenly around the cake. Spread 1/3 of the ganache over the cake, followed by 1/4 of the mascarpone mix. Top with some cherries from the jar and then repeat with the rest of the layers.
  7. Add the the top layer cut side down and top with mascarpone frosting and fresh cherries piled on top. Finish with dark chocolate curls or shavings. You can create these by carefully pushing a knife away from you across the back of a chocolate bar.