Growing up, the epitome of an elegant celebration cake was the Black Forrest. Perhaps no longer en vogue, there’s something still so delicious about the mixture of chocolate sponge, cream, and cherries. This version is a a rustic one that can easily be dressed up with some basic piping and chocolate shavings, although I think rustic suits it just fine.
Rustic Black Forrest Cake
adapted from Ricardo Larrivée
For the Chocolate Genoise Sponge:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 eggs at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
For the Cherry Filling:
1 can (400 ml) bing cherries in syrup OR half a jar (19 oz) morello cherries in juice, drained with juice/syrup reserved
sugar and cornstarch (see instructions below)
1 Tbsp kirsch or cherry liqueur OR 1/8 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp cherry jam
Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle position. Line the bottom of two 8-inch springform pans with parchment paper cut to size (do not grease the paper!). Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer until it triples in volume and the mixture falls in thick ribbons when lifted (this will take ~10 minutes). Transfer the eggs to a wide, shallow mixing bowl; sift the dry ingredients over the eggs in thirds and fold it into the eggs – watch this tutorial if you’ve not done this before! Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 25 minutes or until the cake tests done. Let cool on a wire rack.
Filling: While the cake is baking, prepare the cherry filling. Place the reserved cherry juice or syrup in a saucepan- if you are using syrup, add 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3-4 Tbsp water and stir well. If if you are using juice, add 2 Tbsp sugar and 1.5 Tbsp cornstarch and mix well so that the cornstarch completely dissolves in the juice. Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. Add the kirsch/liqueur or almond extract and cook for one minute more while continuing to stir. Remove from heat and stir in jam. Trransfer to a bowl and let cool until the cakes come out of the oven. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate 2 hours until completely chilled.
Assembly: Mix reserved cherries with thickened cherry sauce and stir well. Whip 1.5 cups of cold whipping cream. When it comes to soft peaks, add 1/4 tsp. of vanilla and icing sugar to taste (1-2 Tbsp). Continue whipping to stiff peaks and set aside. Run a table knife or metal spatula between each cake and the pan to separate. Place one cake on a serving plate and spread cherry filling over top. Cover with slightly less than half the whipped cream. Place the other cake on top and cover with a similar amount of cream. Decorate with remaining cream piped with a star tip around the cake, fresh or candied cherries and chocolate shavings. I find it best to make this the day I plan to serve it and refrigerate a few hours before serving to meld flavours. Leftovers are fine in the fridge for up two days but won’t keep well beyond that.
For a more refined and larger final cake, double the cherry filling and whipping cream and cut each of the sponge cakes in half to make four total layers of cake. Cover the bottom layer of cake with one third of the cherry mixture and one quarter of the whipped cream. Repeat with remaining layers, covering the top layer of cake with just cream and decorate as desired.