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Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake
A filling of cherries and kirsch-flavored whipped cream is standard in this classic German cake. To poach the cherries, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 3/4 cups water and 1/3 cup granulated sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup fresh pitted Bing or other dark sweet cherries, reduce the heat to low and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Let the cherries cool, then drain; discard the syrup. Frozen or jarred cherries may also be used. Cook the frozen cherries as directed above. Jarred cherries have already been poached.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

For the sugar syrup:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

For the filling and frosting:

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp. kirsch
  • Poached cherries (see note above)
  • Semisweet (plain) chocolate curls

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.

To make the cake, sift together the flour and cocoa powder onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, vanilla and granulated sugar on high speed until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture in 2 additions and carefully fold in with a large rubber spatula. Fold a large dollop into the melted butter, then fold back into the egg mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the cake is puffed, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the sugar syrup, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

To make the filling and frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream and confectioners' sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, combine the kirsch and the sugar syrup.

Run a table knife around the edge of the pan and unmold the cake onto a work surface. Turn the cake right side up, leaving the parchment paper in place. Cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. Put the top layer, cut side up, on a serving plate. Brush with some of the syrup, then spread with about one-fourth of the whipped cream. Strew the cherries over the cream (reserve 1 cherry for garnish), leaving a 1/2-inch border of cream around the edge. Position the middle cake layer on the cream. Brush with some of the syrup and spread with another one-fourth of the cream. Position the third cake layer, cut side down, on the cream and peel off the parchment paper. Brush with the remaining syrup. Spread the remaining whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake.

Press the chocolate curls onto the top of the cake. Put the reserved cherry in the middle. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cake, by Fran Gage (Simon & Schuster, 2003).