Black Forest Cake is one of the most common cakes we get in South Africa. You can’t walk past any supermarket chain store or bakery without seeing one sitting in the fridge. It’s also one of the first cakes I grew to loath whilst growing up because it was at every birthday party.
It’s only when I grew up and studied food that I realised just how good a PROPER black forest cake can be. Fake cream, inferior products and use of substitute ingredients to keep the price down are all factors that come together to give us those below-par black forest cakes.
Black Forest Cake is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its native land, Germany. It literally means “Black Forest cherry-cake”. The name “Black Forest”, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t refer to famous Black Forest in Germany but actually is linked to the liqueur from that region, kirschwasser. German law actually prohibits anyone from calling a cake a Black Forest Cake if it doesn’t contain Kirschwasser (we refer to it simply as ‘kirsch’ in English speaking countries). What has happened over the years in retail stores, in order to save on the costs of the cakes, a lot of imitation flavourings have come to be added. Traditionally the cake is also topped with REAL black cherries (I personally frown on the use of Maraschino cherries in anything that is not a Sundae).
Ok, enough with the history lesson. Herewith my Black Forest Recipe.
For the sponge:
- Butter 125g
- Castor Sugar 210g
- Vanilla 5ml
- Eggs 3
- Apricot Jam 110g
- Cake Flour 210g
- Royal Baking Powder 3g
- Bicarbonate of Soda 5ml
- Pinch of salt
- Cocoa Powder 50g
- Buttermilk 250ml
- Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light, soft and fluffy
- Add the jam and beat until incorporated
- Slowly add your eggs one by one, beat well
- Sift your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and gradually add them to the egg and butter mix whilst also adding your buttermilk at the same time.
- Pour evenly into 3 separate cake tins
- Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes.
For the cherry compote
- Brown sugar 200g
- Water 300g
- Kirsch liqueur 100g
- Fresh cherries, stoned and halved 200g
- Place a pot in the stove and place the water, Kirsch and sugar in it. Stir til well mixed and allow to dissolve at a medium heat.
- Stir the liquid now and then to make sure the sugar dissolves completely.
- Once the sugar crystals are completely dissolved add your cherries to the pot.
- Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup. Set aside to cool at room temperature (don’t place it in the fridge).
For the Cocoa Gelee
- Water 240ml
Sifted cocoa powder 150g
Gelatine leaves 8
Vanilla extract 20ml
- In a large saucepan bring the water, cream and sugar to a boil.
- Slowly whisk in the cocoa (be careful, the mixture will bubble a bit) and boil the mixture for 4 minutes whisking continuously.
- Remove the pan and place a sheet of plastic on the surface. Allow it to cool to 82° C (use a thermometer, the temperature is important to achieving a glossy product).
- Stir the hydrated Gelatine into the cocoa mixture and stir until well combined. Add the vanilla.
- Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
- Heat the Gellee to 49°C and pour over the cake once melted.
For the decorating
- Double cream 500ml
- Fresh whole cherries 200g
- Dark chocolate shavings
- Kirsch Liqueur
Once all your components are cool (I would recommend you make the Gelee, sponges and compote the day before and leave covered at room temperature over night) to assemble the cake:
- Whip the cream to stiff peak
- Place one sponge layer on a cake board or plate and drizzle some kirsch over the sponge. Spoon a layer of the compote on top followed by the whipped cream.
- Repeat the above process by placing the 2nd sponge on top of the cream layer and do the same with the second layer.
- With the top (3rd layer) drizzle the kirsch BUT DO NOT place the cherry compote on top, instead heat the cocoa gelee until runny and pour it over the top of the cake. It will set after a few minutes and create a permanent “Runny” look around the sides of the cake.
- Place some of the whipped cream into a piping bag and pipe a few peaks on top of the cake and around the base of the cake. Place a cherry on the top of each cream peak.
- Spoon the remaining compote on the top of the cake and grate some dark chocolate on top (or if already shaves, sprinkle the shavings by hand randomly on the top).
- The cake is a fresh one and therefore should served as soon as possible otherwise the cream will become runny.