Barely, a week can pass without the baking of a cake in our house. Life, I feel, is too short not to eat it on a regular basis. So this weekend, as has become the tradition, saw the need to bake a cake. I bake a lot of decadent cakes. Mostly because they make me feel powerful and victorious, like an apron-clad culinary soldier, placed in a flour filled battlefield – armed and ready for a challenge… well that, and I like to indulge in a slice of home-made cake often (much like the overwhelming majority of people I know, which does make me wildly popular).
This Black Forest Gateau is the first cake created for the festive period, and one, I’m sure, will be making multiple appearances on my table this season. Being the first cake for Christmas, this Black Forest Gateau was required to be a super decadent affair that demanded an audience.
It consists of three dense, rich and surprisingly not too sweet layers of dark chocolate cake that are drenched in kirsch syrup, topped with macerated kirsch cherries, a fluffy mascarpone cream frosting, and a dark chocolate ganache… and then finally decorated with an abundant load of fresh fruits and a sprinkling of icing sugar.
This Black Forest Gateau is definitely heavy on the kirsch liqueur, as it so rightfully should be– as it’s traditionally close to illegality in Germany to call a cake a ‘Black Forest’ if it doesn’t contain even a smidgen of kirsch.
With that in mind, fresh cherries are pitted and macerated in kirsch and sugar, until they have grown fat, soaking up all the flavour. The boozy cherries are then drained and nestled into the mascarpone cream, where their sweet juices sweetly seep into the fluffy frosting. The remaining kirsch syrup is then gently brushed over the cooling cakes to add an extra layer of flavour and moisture.
This Black Forest Gateau is simple to create, yet an undertaking at the same time - each component is easy but undivided care and attention to each element is needed.
The process will leave your kitchen dusted in a sheet of cocoa powder, flour and icing sugar and stained with enough cherry juice to look like a (delicious) crime scene… but it also leaves you with a decadently rich, boozy and berry filled Black Forest Gateau, which is a justifiable reason alone.
If I only could eat more piece of cake my whole life, it would be generously cut from this Black Forest Gateau. This cake demands an audience and is filled with decadence, nostalgia and ease – best served and devoured amongst friends, family or from experience, at midnight in front of the sparkle of Christmas tree lights, alone.
Black Forest Gateau
(Adapted from Call me Cupcake)
For the cake:
2 ½ cups (360 g) plain flour, 2/3 cup + 3 tbsp (40 g ) dutch processed cocoa powder, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp baking soda, Pinch of salt, 2 cups (450 g) caster sugar, 2 large eggs, at room temperature, 1 1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature, ½ cup (100 g / one stick) butter, melted, 2/3 cup + 3 tbsp boiling water
Heat an oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and line three 18 cm (7 inch) cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir to combine.
Add the sugar, eggs, sour cream, butter and hot water. Stir gently until the batter is uniform and smooth.
Divide between the three prepared cake pans (the mixture should weigh a little over 1.2kg (42.3 oz) so roughly 400 g (14 oz) in each pan).
Bake for 25-30 minutes then let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely before levelling any domed tops and assembling.
For the cherries:
500 g (16 oz) whole cherries, pitted, ½ cup kirsch liqueur, ½ cup caster sugar
Place the pitted cherries in a saucepan with kirsch and sugar. Bring to a light boil and then reduce temperature and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring carefully often, until the cherries have softened but are not reduced to mush.
Strain the mixture, placing the cherries in one bowl and reserved syrup in another.
Use the left over syrup to brush over the cooling cakes.
For the ganache:
100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, ½ cup thickened (heavy) cream
Roughly chop the chocolate and place in a bowl.
Bring the cream to a light simmer in a saucepan. Once at a simmer, pour the mixture over the chocolate. Leave for 2 minutes, and then stir until smooth and thick. Leave to cool completely at room temperature.
For the mascarpone:
500 g (17.5 oz) mascarpone cheese, 6-8 tablespoons icing sugar, 2/3 cup + 3 tablespoons cup thickened (heavy) cream
Beat the mascarpone and icing sugar until creamy. Add the cream and whip until thickened and spreadable, being carefully not to over whip and split the mixture.
Fresh cherries, raspberries, blueberries and red currants, icing sugar for sprinkling
Place the first cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand. Spread a thick layer of the mascarpone cream frosting on-top. Place half of the kirsch macerated cherries over the frosting and gently press in to indent.
Place the second cake layer over the first and repeat the layering process as before.
Top with the third and last cake layer. Spread a thick layer of ganache over the top. Decorate with fresh fruits and icing sugar. Before serving, set in a refrigerator for 15 minutes for an easier cut.