Monday, January 24, 2011

Black Forest Cake

If you were to rule out any activity involving my family, I really think I'm happiest when I've got a cake to bake or a pastry bag full of fluffy buttercream icing in my hand.

One of my resolutions this year is to try new things, and I really want to apply that to my baking. So when my father-in-law requested a Black Forest Cake for his birthday, it was a done deal.

Black Forest cake has never really been one of my favorites, though I couldn't tell you exactly why. I like cherries. I love chocolate cake. Maybe it's the whipped cream? Dunno. So I had to do some homework. I searched all through my favorite food blogs and came up empty handed, save for some Black Forest cupcakes, which wouldn't be the same as a cake. And then I remembered that I had received a pastry text book for Christmas (yes, my sister-in-law got me a pastry text book, and it's reasons like that that make her awesomesauce). That bad boy is serious bidness; recipes are packed in there, forced to share pages with others and only a select few get a glossy picture in the middle of the book.

So I bought all of the ingredients for the cake, and got to work. I swapped out the cake recommended by the book for the chocolate butter cake from Sky High, a book I love that has yet to fail. And at the last minute, I decided to swap out the whipped cream topping for a sturdier Swiss Meringue Buttercream, since the cake had to take a 30 minute car ride and I'm a chicken about cake transportation.

I'm super happy with the results, as was the birthday boy, and I'm pretty pleased with the cherry filling, which involved cooking sour cherries that had been soaked in Kirshwasser with sugar, cherry juice, gelatin and cornstarch (note, cornstarch is weird). And don't get me started on Swiss Meringue buttercream. Heaven!

Fun fact the first: In Germany, home of the Black Forest cake, you are legally forbidden to call a cake a Black Forest cake if you do not use Kirschwasser, a cherry brandy, in the filling.

Fun fact the second: When you go to the liquor store to buy Kirschwasser, the clerk will ask you what you're making, because apparently no one likes to get buzzed off Kirschwasser on Saturday nights.

The details:
Chocolate Butter Cake, Sky High, by Alisa Huntsman
Black Forest Cherry Filling, The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg
Swiss Meringue Buttercream via Whisk Kid

Monday, October 25, 2010

Starting Things Out Not Right

So I really want to start things off properly, with who I am, what I do, and why I do what I do. I mean, it drives me crazy when a blog just springs into existence, and you're supposed to know that the blogger you love used to be a part of such and such community, but felt that it was too clique-y, so she left. It's disappointing to hunt through a blog's archives, hoping to find the equivalent of an origin story and come up empty handed, which I may or may not have obsessively done before. But I really need to talk about the cake cooling on my dining room talbe right now, before I do something horrible, like eat it.

Oh, this cake. This seemingly simple chocolate cake is actually supposed to be slathered with peanut butter cream cheese frosting, and topped with chocolate peanut butter, kind of like this. (Also, the spiced applesauce cake she has on her front page needs to find its way into my belly ASAP!) Instead, it's destined to be something else, but what that "else" is, I'm not sure.
I volunteered to make a birthday cake for my husband's uncle, for his surprise party this weekend. When I asked his kids (who are planning this shindig and who are teenagers, though I suppose that can't be held against them) I received a request for a dark chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. A little ho hum. So I went for the darkest chocolate cake I know of, this guy.

Now I could just make some Swiss meringue buttercream, fill it, frost it, and call it a day, but, again, ho hum. Instead, I'm thinking of filling it with some sort of whipped chocolate ganache, and frosting it with white chocolate buttercream, so it's kind of a triple chocolate cake without (hopefully) being overkill. I'm about to go diggint through my favorite cake book, Sky High, to see what I can find, and this cake layer is about to go in the freezer, safe from danger.

It's going to be a busy week; I'm making a cake pops for a friend's Halloween party, and I really want to make monster cupcakes for my family for Halloween. Oh, and this party, on Saturday. I also want to cover my younger daughter's first birthday party, which happened a couple of weeks ago, so lots more to come!