Black Forest Cake (aka Swiss Black Forest Gateau) is my number one favourite cake. And it’s on top of the most delicious cakes I have made from scratch, better than any bakery or patisserie made. I found a recipe from The Cake Bible by Rose Beranbaum, award-winning American baker and cookbook author, and her version of this classic German cake was inspired by Confiserie Tschirren in Berne, Switzerland. They brought the recipe from Germany after World War II, and it has since become the national cake of Switzerland. In Rose Beranbaum’s words, “the Swiss version is far lighter and more delicate than the original German one, which also includes buttercream.”I take advantage of fresh cherries when they are in season, and loved the way the cake came together. When we visited Geneva, Switzerland a few years ago I had eaten several slices of Black Forest Gateau not just at the hotel where we stayed but also at different restaurants and coffee shops. I’ve experimented using different recipes but Rose Beranbaum’s is by far the best I’ve tried. The cake is very light and moist, not cloyingly sweet, and each bite takes me back to Geneva. 😉
Swiss Black Forest Cake
Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Beranbaum
2 moist chocolate genoise cakes (recipe follows)
500gms cherries (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 cup syrup (recipe follows)
1 portion Real Old Fashioned Whipped Vanilla Cream (recipe follows)
Fresh cherries, grated dark chocolate and chocolate flakes for garnishing
Moist Chocolate Genoise
230gms dark chocolate
3/4 cup water
1 cup vanilla sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornflour
Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare 2 9 x 2″ spring form cake tins – greased, bottoms lined with baking parchment, greased and floured again. Sift the flours. Reserve. In a large pan, bring the chocolate and the water to boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the chocolate thickens to a pudding like consistency. (The original recipe has 1 cup of water, but I found it way too much and the chocolate took forever to thicken). Cool completely. Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl on high speed till tripled in volume, about 7-10 minutes. Sift 1/2 the flour mix over the beaten egg mixture, and fold in gently but rapidly until some of the flour has disappeared. Repeat with the remaining flour until all the flour has disappeared. Fold in the chocolate mixture until incorporated.
Pour immediately into prepared pans, and bake at 180C for 30-35 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Loosen the sides with a metal spatula/butter knife, and invert onto lightly greased cooling racks. Re-invert to cool. (The cake stays at room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for 5 days, and in the freezer for at least 2 months.)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp cherry brandy / liqueur / kirsch (optional)
Bring the sugar and water to a rolling boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Take off heat, stir in the liqueur if using, cover and allow to cool.
500gms fresh cherries, pitted (reserve 10-12 for topping)
1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet they are)
I tossed the cherries in the sugar and froze them as suggested by Rose Beranbaum in The Cake Bible. The sugar helps them hold shape. I brought them down into the fridge the night before, drained any liquid, and roughly chopped them up for use. I think you can use freshly pitted, chopped ones too. I have used canned cherries in the past. Halve the cherries if they are too big.
Real Old Fashioned Whipped Vanilla Cream:
Adapted from Rose Beranbaum’s recipe
800gms low fat cream (I used Double Cream not low fat cream) chilled
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean scraped
3-4 tbsp powdered sugar
Refrigerate the bowl and beater for 15 minutes.
In a small pan, melt the butter and 1/2 cup cream, stirring constantly till the butter has completely melted. Add the scraped vanilla seeds, and bean, mix well. Transfer to a heatproof measuring cup to cool to room temperature.
Beat the remaining cream with sugar until soft peaks are reached. Now begin adding the butter in a gradual stream, beating constantly on low speed, until stiff peaks are formed.
Assembling the cake:
Split the chocolate genoise horizontally to get 4 layers. Sprinkle both sides of each layer with the syrup, and reserve on platters. Place the bottom layer on the serving platter.
Reserve about 1/2 the cream for the topping and frosting. Take a third of the remaining cream and spread over the bottom later. Distribute 1/3 of the cherries over the cream, poking into the cream. Repeat with the remaining 3 layers. Put about 1/2 a cup of cream in a piping bag to make rosettes on top if desired. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream. Cover the sides with grated dark chocolate. Pipe rosettes on top, sprinkle chocolate flakes in the centre, and place cherries on the rosettes. Chill until ready to serve.
Note: The cake will taste better if allowed to chill for at least six hours or better yet overnight, if you can wait that long. 😉