Creative work is not always easy. Even though I love doing what I do, sometimes there is just a huge blank in my mind and I simply cannot think of anything I could bake. On the other hand, however, there are days where one single picture or ingredient can unleash a list of things that I’d like to do.
Last week I was in one of these unproductive, uncreative days. I wanted (and still want) to do a lot of goodies involving chocolate, but I still need to buy a couple molds and it takes a while for them to arrive. And honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was to temper chocolate (my nightmare). So I felt a little stuck.
Then, out of a sudden, I remembered that I saw a huge can of sour cherries at the supermarket next door. One thing led to the other and BAM!, Black Forest Cake was in my plans for that day.
There are many cakes I absolutely adore, like my grandma’s walnut cake that I always talk about. But Black Forest cake is probably one of the earliest cakes I’ve ever known about, and probably one of the first I’ve ever done.
My mom had this cookbook from Nestlé that was all about pies, cakes and tarts. I still have it here at home. And the cover of this book had a very pretty (at least for my childish eyes back than) Black Forest Cake that I could simply not forget about. I remember buying cans and cans of maraschino cherries back in the day (which are super expensive in Brazil) just to make it. That was my somewhat signature cake for a while.
Years went by, I had the opportunity to taste the real one in Germany a few years ago, and since now I can find sour cherries more easily, I thought it would be a good idea to make it again.
I’m not sure if the original recipe calls for sour cherries (griottes), though. To be honest, I like them better than the sweet cherries (cerises) because chocolate cake is usually sweet enough. I think it balances well.
As for maraschino cherries, well, I would try my best to avoid them. I used these cherries back in the day because they were all I had (as you can imagine, cherries are not exactly a common fruit in a tropical country), but it’s best to stay away from them if you’re planning to make a cake like this. There are better uses for these cherries.
And it’s worth mentioning that this chocolate cake that I used for the layers is the tastiest chocolate cake I’ve ever had in life. Period. This recipe comes from Claire Damon, my role-model Pastry Chef (I love everything she does, and absolutely loved her shop in Paris) and has the perfect balance of sweetness, moisture and richness in it.
Some may say it’s best to use a chocolate génoise here (to which I would probably agree), but since I wanted to present it as a naked cake, I thought it would be better to have a cake that is naturally more moist.
Final consideration: this is a very soft cake. If you’re planning to use this recipe for an event, I would urge you to use a more consistent filling such as buttercream or mascarpone/cream cheese based cream. Chantilly holds better with thinner layers (which I absolutely didn’t do here), so depending on the weather, or how you would handle this cake, you can end up with a very big mess.
Given all that, enjoy it! This cake is so tasty and soft you won’t even realize you’re eating that much — which, yeah, may become a problem… but at least it’s a delicious problem
- 150 g eggs
- 420 g sugar
- 165 g vegetable oil (preferably grapeseed)
- 95 g cocoa powder
- 235 g all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 150 g whipping cream
- 275 g whole milk
- 300 g whipping cream
- 80 g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1-2 cups of sour cherries, pitted and drained
- Cherry syrup
- 200 g whipping cream
- 200 g dark chocolate
- Preheat your oven at 200°C/395°F. Butter and flour three cake 6-inch (15 cm) cake molds and set aside.
- Whip the eggs with sugar in a mixer at the highest speed for about 3 minutes. The mixture should be very light in color and fluffy. While still mixing, add the oil slowly to incorporate it to the eggs. Mix until completely combined, about 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, flour and baking powder). Mix the cream and milk as well.
- Add the liquid mixture to the contents in the mixer, and mix it at the lowest speed to combine. Add the dry ingredients at the end and mix, also in the lowest speed, until just combined.
- Divide this batter equally into the three prepared molds and put them in the oven, immediately lowering down the temperature to 160°C/325°F.
- Bake the cakes for about 40 minutes, or until completely set in the center.
- Unmold the cakes while still warm and leave them cooling upside down in a cooling rack.
- Once cold enough to cut, level them with the help of a serrated knife, making sure they are all with the same height.
- If baking on the night before, wrap each cake with cling film and leave in the fridge until ready to assemble.
- Whip the cream with sugar and vanilla until it forms stiff peaks.
- Assemble the cake by soaking each layer with cherry syrup, then putting about 1-2 cups of the whipped cream on top. Top the cream with half of the sour cherries and another layer of cake.
- Repeat this for the second layer, so you will have cake / cream + cherries / cake / cream + cherries / cake. Leave in the fridge while you assemble the ganache.
- If the cake is too jiggly, you may consider putting large wooden sticks that goes through the cake to make sure it stays still.
- In a saucepan, heat the cream until it just boils. Pour it over the dark chocolate and mix until the mixture is homogenous.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes firmer but still spreadable.
- Take the cake out from the fridge, pour the ganache over the last cake layer, spreading freely to the sides and finish with sour cherries, chocolate shavings and icing sugar.