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