Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte literally translates as Cherry Cake from the Black Forest region of Germany. I don’t think there are too many people who haven’t heard of this cake of German origin or don’t like it. I am one of those few who doesn’t particularly like the Blackt Forest Gâteau/ Black Forest Cake! This mainly because I’m not very fond of cakes or confections filled or decorated with cream or frosting.
The confectioner Josef Keller supposedly invented the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its present form in 1915 at the then famous Café Agner in Bonn.
My husband and daughter, like most Indians I know, love the Black Forest Cake. It was my husband’s birthday about 2 weeks back and I had planned to surprise him with a home-made version. After making quite a fewlayeredcakes for the Daring Bakers challenges, I thought I could handle this.
Yes, I know for a lot of people out there, baking a layered cake and frosting it is as easy as peeling a few potatoes but I’m a person who gets scared at the thooght of having to cut cakes, fill them and stack them one on top of the other. I’m plagued by scary thoughts! What if I don’t cut the layers neatly? What if my cake crumbles? How do I level the filling/ frosting to perfection? What of my stacked layers slide off and land on the table?What if the cream/ frosting melts in my notoriously hot Indian summer? And so it goes on.
But a birthday of one’s better half deserves something beyond mediocre and something he definitely likes, and so I set about making the Black Forest Cake. We were also having a few guests to dinner the night before his birthday (no, it wasn’t a party, just a coincidence) so I thought I could serve the cake for dessert. I don’t normally experiment with food when guests are expected, so I had made some of Cynthia’s coconut ice-cream just in case the cake was a disaster.
I had seen and bookmarked a recipe for this cake from Eva’s blog Sweet Sins, quite a while back. She is a German living in Australia and had a recipe without using Kirsch (a cherry liquor). We don’t use alcohol in any form, and I thought if a German could make a Black Forest Cake without Kirsch, then so could I. I managed to get all the ingredients, including a can of cherries (luckily not the sickly sweet ones in syrup). I have also made this cake with fresh cherries.
I used her recipe with a few modifications to suit the ingredients I had on hand. Eva had suggested I could use rum in place of Kirsch, but we’re teetotalers and I don’t like the flavour or taste of rum even in chocolate or Christmas fruit cakes. I used unsweetend apple juice instead.
I used 3 tbsp of cocoa instead of dark chocolate to cut down on the fat and calories (this might seem silly when you consider how much cream goes into the cake!). I also added 2 tbsp of cornstarch to the flour as I don’t get cake flour here, as cake flour makes a lot of difference to the cake.
For the cherry filling, I had some frozen cherry compote (I had made this earlier when I had an excess of cherries) to which I added a little of the liquid from the canned cherries and liquidized to a grainy spreadable consistency. If you are using fresh cherries, you can make a compote with them using unsweetend apple juice. You can also add a little sugar to some more apple juice and bring it to a boil, let it cool and then use that as a soaking syrup for the cakes to keep them moist.
In India, we only get cream with 25% fat so that is what I used for whipped cream. Given the general higher temperatures in India, you can stabilize your cream with cornstarch or agar for better results. It helps to refrigerate the cake at the slightest hint that the heat is getting to the cake. Now this is not a true Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, because it lacks the Kirsch, but its close enough to qualify for the name, in my opinion.