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Classic Black Forest cake

I think this black forest cake is one of my favourite recipes to date! It’s intense in flavour, yet light as a cloud.

Consisting of soft chocolate sponge cake layers soaked in a cherry syrup, topped with a sour cherry filling, stabilised whipped cream and dark chocolate, this black forest cake will not disappoint – I PROMISE!

A Black Forest cake, also known as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in German, is a classic and iconic dessert originating from the Black Forest region in Germany. It is a rich and decadent layered cake known for its distinctive ingredients and flavors. The key components include:

Chocolate sponge cake layers – a traditional black forest cake is supposed to be light, which is where many recipes go wrong. Instead of an oil or butter cake, it’s best to use a sponge cake for a more authentic version.

Cherry filling/syrup – Morello (sour cherries) are used as a filling for black forest cake (with a few other ingredients), and a cherry syrup is used to soak the chocolate cake layers. Traditional black forest cake has cherry brandy (called Kirsch) in the syrup (and sometimes filling too), however I’ve left this out. To make up for this, I’ve used an almond essence/extract which adds a nutty and pungent flavour to the cake. I find it much better than just using cherry juice on it’s own 🙂

Whipped cream – as mentioned earlier, a traditional black forest cake is supposed to be light, hence why whipped cream is used. I’m definitely not complaining – whipped cream is probably one of my favourite frostings! 😀

Dark chocolate – dark chocolate is used to cover the sides of a black forest cake.

Additional cherries – when decorating, either fresh, glacé or maraschino cherries are placed on top of the cake.

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Cherry Filling

2 cups (400 g) morello cherries – from a 680g or 700g jar with syrup removed. Save syrup for other elements of the cake.
3 tbsp (40 g) cherry juice – from the jar of morello cherries
¼ cup (50 g) white granulated sugar
1 tbsp (14 g) fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp (15 g) cornstarch – also known as cornflour in some countries
⅛ tsp almond essence or extract
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon

Cherry Syrup (for soaking cake layers)

⅔ cup (150 g) cherry juice – from the jar of morello cherries
⅛ tsp almond essence or extract – in replacement of Kirsch (see note 1)

Chocolate Sponge Cake

¾ cup (90 g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch
⅓ cup (35 g) cocoa powder – Dutch processed preferred
1 tsp instant coffee powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp (30 g) unflavoured vegetable oil – I use canola oil
2 tbsp (28 g) melted unsalted butter
6 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) white granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence/extract

Dark Chocolate (for covering sides and top of cake)

1 block (180 g) dark chocolate (50% dark)
Stabilised Whipped Cream
1 cup (225 g) mascarpone – cold
½ cup (60 g) icing sugar – also known as powdered or confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence/extract
3 cups (670 g) whipping cream – cold, minimum fat percentage of 34%

Extra Decorations

10-12 cherries (fresh, glacé or maraschino)

Cherry Filling
Add the cherry juice, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, almond flavouring and ground cinnamon to a saucepan. Place it over a medium heat and continuously mix until it thickens up in consistency.
Once thick, take it off the heat and add in the morello cherries. Mix gently so that the cherries are coated in the thickened mixture. Place into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Cherry Syrup
In a bowl combine the cherry juice and almond flavouring. Mix and set aside for later.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
Preheat oven to 160 °C (320°F) with the fan on (see note 2 if you don’t have a fan function) and grease and/or line only the bottom of three 8 inch cake tins. I line the bottoms with baking paper cut into circles. Leave the sides ungreased.
Sift together the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, instant coffee powder and salt. Using a whisk, mix until well combined and set aside for now.
In a small bowl or cup, combine the oil and butter. Mix and set aside.
In a large bowl crack in the six whole eggs. To it add in the sugar and vanilla flavouring and using a whisk, mix until well combined. Place the bowl over a small pot of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water), and continuously mix until the mixture is warm to the touch and sugar granules are completely dissolved. To check if the mixture is done, either use your fingers to rub some of the mixture between your fingers, and if you can’t feel any sugar granules and the mixture is warm then it’s done. Alternatively, you can use a thermometer and when the mixture comes to 45°C it’s ready.
Take the bowl off the heat immediately as you don’t want to cook the eggs. Using a hand or stand mixer on a medium high speed, whip the egg mixture until it’s tripled in volume and is thick enough to form ribbons when lifted with a spatula (see video demonstration). This may take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on the strength and speed of your mixer.
Once it’s at the right consistency, turn the mixer down to the lowest speed and mix for a further 2 minutes. This will help stabilise the batter and get rid of any large air bubbles.
Next sift in half of the premixed dry ingredients and gently fold it into the egg mixture with a spatula until it’s almost combined. Then sift in the remaining half of the dry ingredients and gently fold until it’s just combined.
Next add in the oil/butter mixture and gently fold until it’s just combined. The butter should be melted, so if it’s solidified then reheat it again before pouring into the batter.
Distribute the batter evenly into the three cake tins. Run a toothpick through the batter to remove any large air bubbles (see video demonstration). Also drop the cake tins lightly on the counter top.
Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the tops are set. You should be able to create a small indent on the top of the cakes with your finger that slowly bounces back.
Once baked, drop the cakes from a height of about 10cm to release some of the steam, and allow the cakes to cool upside down for about 30 minutes. 30 minutes later, run a thin knife around the edges of the cake tins to help release the cakes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
Once they’re cooled, gently brush off the thin layer of crust on the tops of your cake layers with your hands. This will allow the cake to soak up the syrup better later on in the recipe. You can use a serrated knife for this step too if the top isn’t easily coming off.
Dark Chocolate
Using a potato peeler, grate the block of chocolate so you have little shards. You only need about 180g so if your block is larger than that, don’t grate the whole block, only what you need 🙂
Place the shredded chocolate into the fridge until you need it.
Stabilized whipped cream
Before beginning, your mascarpone and whipped cream should be cold.
In a large bowl, combine the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla. Mix on a low speed for about 10 seconds, and then turn up the speed to a medium high and mix until well combined (about a minute). If using a stand mixer use the whisk attachment.
Add in the whipping cream and mix on a low speed for about 10 seconds (to allow everything to combine without the cream splattering), and then turn up the speed to a medium high and whip until you reach stiff peaks. Keep a careful eye on the mixture as you don’t want to overwhip the cream.
Place your first cake layer onto your cake stand/plate and using a pastry brush, soak it with a generous amount of the cherry juice. Use a 1/3 of the cherry syrup for each cake layer.
Place about 1/4 of the whipped cream into a piping bag with 1A large round tip (or just cut the end of a piping bag off if you don’t have the right piping tip) and pipe a dam around the top edges of the cake layer.
Fill the middle with half of the cherry filling, evenly spreading it out. Cover with a layer of whipped cream and spread it out with an offset spatula so that it’s level.
Place your next cake layer on

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