Paul’s Black Forest Birthday Cake

24 Jun

Since I posted the best cookie recipe ever, I thought I would stick to that sweet theme today, and post my dear friend, Paul’s birthday cake. Paul liberated me as a cook many years ago when I presented him with his first Black Forest Birthday Cake. I was shy because the cake was a bit wobbly, and listed to the side. When I told him this, he laughed and said to me that that was the perfection in my cakes – he could tell they were home made and created with plenty of love and sayang BECAUSE they were a little imperfect, and they were full of my energy and my love. I realised that people taste and see and feel and smell the love that you put into food, and it doesnt have to be visually perfect for it to be satisfyingly lovingly perfect. He made me a braver and more confident cook, and when he was here for his birthday, I couldnt resist making him another Black Forest Cake – this one even MORE wobbly than the last!

This cake is a bit of a major undertaking, BUT its easy peasy if you make it in stages. I made the alcoholic version, but you could easily substitute cherry juice in place of cherry brandy, and have a delicious non-alcoholic cake as well. Make the cherry filling, and cherry sauce the day before. You can bake the cake up to two days ahead as well. The whipped cream should be prepared on the day of serving, though if you really need to, you can make it up to a day ahead, given that its stabilized with agar agar.

Cherry filling + Cherry sauce

  • About 5 – 6 cups cherries, pitted (I used fresh frozen because we had none in the shops)
  • 1 bottle cherry brandy (or 1 bottle cherry juice or other dark berry juice)
  • Sugar (to taste)
  • Water
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon

In a large bowl, drain and defrost the cherries. Pour off any juice into a measuring cup. You should have about 2 cups. If you don’t, make it up with water (or cherry brandy!).

Pour the juice into a small saucepan, add about 3 tablespoons of sugar and about 1 cup of cherry brandy. Boil until syrupy. Cool and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, put the cherries in a large saucepan and add:

  • 1 – 2 cups cherry brandy
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Boil until cherries release their juice, and the entire beautiful heap becomes soft and jammy. Cool. Pour about 1/2 cup of brandy over and refrigerate.

Chocolate sauce

  • 3 bars of extra dark, bittersweet chocolate,
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 tbsp butter

Break the bars into small chunks, and put all in a small saucepan, over very very low heat. Stir until melted.

Keep aside until ready to assemble cake

Chocolate buttermilk cake

Prepare 3 baking pans, lining the bottom with parchment paper, and buttering bottoms and sides. Preheat oven to 170 C

Beat together:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cup sugar

until fluffy, creamy and light yellow.

Beat in

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • About 1/2 cup of melted chocolate (which you have put aside)

To this mix, beat in

  • 3 cups flour mixed with 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt and 1 cup cocoa powder

alternately with

  • 2 cups buttermilk

Taste. If its not chocolately enough for you, add up to 1/2 c cocoa or melted chocolate.

Divide equally between 3 cake tins, and bake for approximately 10 – 15 minutes each tin, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool, in the tin and if you are not using the same day, refrigerate, wrapped tightly in grease proof paper.

Whipped cream

Beat together

  • 4 – 5 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla

As the mixture just reaches stiffness, add

  • 1 tsp agar agar to every cup of cream

Whip until very stiff peaks hold. The agar agar acts as a vegetarian gelatin – it ensures the whipped cream holds its stiffness and does not leak or become watery. It can stay this way for hours and hours and there is no added taste or influence from the agar agar.

Assembly

Turn 1 cake onto serving platter, and with a fork, poke holes in the cake … everywhere! Brush the reduced cherry (brandy) sauce on to cake, and if you like sprinkled with a little more neat cherry brandy.

Cover with a thin layer of chocolate sauce, then spread the cake with a layer of whipped cream. Heap cherries on top, and sprinkle with crumbled chocolate (I use Flakes).

Repeat for remaining layers of cake, finishing with whipped cream along top and sides, sprinkles of chocolate and maraschino cherries if you like.

Refrigerate for at least two hours (and up to 12) to let the cake set well before serving.

4 Responses to “Paul’s Black Forest Birthday Cake”

  1. priscilla June 24, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    pictures, p!!!

    • delectableblog June 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm #

      will try! if not, i will have to make another one 😉

  2. Paul W July 24, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Hi Pia! I had no idea my comments to you were so inspirational …. I was just telling it like it was .. The cake was simply delicious 🙂 and you blog is fabulous … You must have no spare time at all 🙂

    • delectableblog July 24, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

      Thank you beloved brother of my heart! Your words changed how I felt about how I cook 🙂 xxx

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