Sunday, 13 July 2014

Black Forest Gâteau

Some classics should never be touched. There is a reason why they are known as classics and messing with them is a never a good idea. But, there are a few retro classics whose time has passed and they could do with a makeover. For me, the one retro classic that I never took to, is Black Forest Cake.

Through much of my childhood, the choice for a birthday cake was either a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting or a black forest cake. For me, the black forest cake was never an option. There was just nothing appealing about layers of chocolate cake dunked in sugar syrup with a tinned cherry and cream filling and then slathered all over with an overly sweet buttercream frosting with a few measly chocolate shavings on top. Oh, and let's not forget those cream rosettes on top with the mandatory bright red canned cherry on each rosette. No, there was no way I could ever be convinced about a black forest cake!
And then, I saw the Hairy Bikers travel across Germany and make a black forest cake that looked like nothing like the black forest cake of my childhood. And that set me off on a Google hunt for a modern makeover to this 70s retro classic.
I decided to put to use the fresh cherries that are now in season and the bottle of cherry liqueur from last year. For the cherry filling, I used a combination of fresh, pitted cherries, cherry liqueur and organic cherry conserve. The layers were a regular chocolate sponge but instead of soaking them with a simple sugar syrup, I used cherry liqueur.
Am not a fan of whipped cream so that was kept to a minimum but you can be more generous if its to your taste. And there is no way, I was going to cover the whole cake with a cream frosting. Instead, I only covered the top with a chocolate fudge frosting. I left the sides unadorned so that one could see the layers!!
And what a difference a few tweaks can make! The first thought that will come to you is how 'fresh' this black forest cake tastes compared to its previous avatars. The cherry filling is sweet with a slight tartness that is rounded off with the cherry liqueur that is not overpowering in the least. Instead, the liqueur provides a certain finesse to the flavour profile. The sponge cakes cannot be faulted and that chocolate fudge frosting is much more suited to this modern makeover.
It got an all round thumbs up, across the age groups, from 10 to 60. This cake is best had on the day you make it. The freshness of it is what makes it so light on the palate and once cut, I doubt there's be any left overs.. we didn't have any!
So, today is the Finals and let this cake be a clue to which team I'll be supporting. The man who wears the No.10 jersey for Argentina is a very compelling player but football is a team sport and for me, Germany is the better team!! Hope you had a beautiful weekend!

Black Forest Gâteau

Makes one 6-inch round cake 

Adapted from this recipe by the Hairy Bikers

For Cake:
  • 110 gms caster sugar
  • 110 gms butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 80 gms self rising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 30 gms cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cherry liqueur to soak the cakes with, once the cakes are taken out of the oven.
For Cherry Filling:
  • 1/3 cup cherry jam (I used FabIndia's Cherry Conserve)
  • 1/4 cup pitted fresh cherries
  • 50 mls cherry liqueur/kirsch
For Chocolate Frosting:
  • 40 mls water
  • 1 tablespoon Demerara sugar
  • 60 gms unsalted butter
  • 100 gms dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cherry liqueur/kirsch
For Whipped Cream Layer:
  • 150 mls double cream, or more as per your liking.
  • Pre-heat the oven at 190 deg C. Grease 2 x 6- inch loose-based tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
  • Put the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and eggs into a food processor and blend until smooth and thick. You may need push the mixture down from the sides a couple of times to make sure the mixture is well blended.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins and spread it out evenly with a rubber spatula.
  • Bake for 22–25 minutes or until the cakes are nicely risen and just beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tins. Remove them from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack. Take off the lining paper and leave the cakes to cool. As they cool, brush the two layers of cake with some cherry liqueur. This will help keep the cake moist as it cools.
  • While the cakes are in the oven, make the cherry filling and chocolate frosting.
  • For the filling: Put the jam in a saucepan with the cherries and liqueur and place over a low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 6–8 minutes, stirring, until the jam has melted and the cherries are beginning to swell and soften. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.
  • For the chocolate frosting: Put the butter, sugar and water in a saucepan on low heat until the butter is completely melted.
  • Once bubbling, take the saucepan off the heat and add the chopped dark chocolate. The heat from the mixture will be enough to melt the chocolate.
  • Do not stir the mixture with a spoon but rather swirl the pan around to help the chocolate melt.
  • Once melted, whisk the mixture until smooth and glossy. At this stage, it will be very liquid.
  • Leave the mixture for about an hour. It will thicken as it cools down. This suits us just fine as the cake has to cool completely before we use this frosting.
  • Assembling the Cake: Once the cake is cold, spread the cherry filling on top of one the layers.
  • Spread some whipped cream over the cherry filling. I put a very thin layer, but you can put more as per your liking.
  • Top with the other sponge layer and then spread the chocolate frosting on top.
  • Decorate with fresh cherries.


  1. This is such a beautiful bake sarvani! Loved the photography and the styling :)

    1. Thanks Nandita!! Its those beautiful cherries.. they'll make anything look beautiful! :)


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