Sunday, 15 May 2011

Schwarzwälder Kirchtorte – German Black Forest Cake in honour of Eurovision

I loved Eurovision last night. Husband and I laughed until we cried, until our bellies hurt, and how better to celebrate Dusseldorf hosting this event than a traditional German Cake.

Tess and I at one of the many Gluwein stands in Germany
One of my best friends, the lovely, gorgeous Tessa has lived in Dusseldorf for nearly three years and oh, I’ve missed her terribly. But I can’t say I haven’t loved my visits to this wonderful city that completely took me by surprise with it’s café culture and wonderful, wonderful people. I was going to visit for Eurovision but you should have seen the price of the flights! I could have bought a plane for that!

My favourite memory of my trips to Dusseldorf is visiting the Christmas markets, a magical day and evening full of snow, Gluwein, market stalls, Gluwein, singing Christmas songs, friendship, food and er, more Gluwein. We had a wonderful day, but we drank nearly 13 glasses of the stuff, purely to warm ourselves through you understand! Well, we were a little worse for wear, singing Christmas songs far too loudly (given we were two of the very few people that knew the words to the English songs) and we got chatting to some very, very nice German people, one of whom, Cathrin, has since become a good friend of Tessa’s (and who wouldn’t want to be a friend of Tessa’s?)

I asked Cathrin if she had a traditional German recipe I could try and her mum has been kind enough to give me her Schwarzwälder Kirchtorte recipe, a German Black Forest Cherry Cake for me to bake this weekend in honour of this fabulously fun event.  

I was so pleased when I saw this!  No only are cherries coming into season (I bought my first punnet yesterday) but this cake is the taste of childhood, when my Auntie Val used to defrost a Black Forest Gateaux just for me on special occasions. Oh how I loved it, the chocolate cake, cherries and gooey cream. Especially when it hadn’t quite defrosted enough and I got a cold cherry to bite through in the middle!

This version is so much better. I made mine with Cherry Brandy (the recipe says Kirsch, but to all intents and purposes it is the same thing). Don’t be put off by the length of the recipe. Whilst a little complicated, this cake is delicious, light, fluffy, alcohol soaked. Never will a Black Forest Gateaux find its way into my freezer again. 

This is so fabulous, I'm entering it into English Mum's Bake Off... wish me luck!

Thanks Cathrin’s mum – I owe you one.

Schwarzwälder Kirchtorte recipe, a German Black Forest Cherry Cake

(The recipe below is for 3x7” layers. I used the exact same recipe but did 2 x 8” layers in the picture) 

For the cake

  • 140g unsalted butter + 1 tbsp for greasing 
  • 6 eggs 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 200g caster sugar 
  • 65g self-raising flour + 2 tbsp for coating 
  • 40g cocoa 

For the Syrup
  • 150g sugar 
  • 250ml cold water 
  • 80ml kirsch or cherry brandy 

For the filling and topping
  • 500ml chilled double cream 
  • 50g icing sugar 
  • 60ml kirsch or cherry brandy 
  • 1 tin of cherries drained and rinsed 
  • Fresh sweet cherries with stems 
  • 100g Dark chocolate 

1. Preheat the oven to 180. With some greaseproof paper, lightly coat the bottoms and sides of three 7-inch round cake pans with the 1 tbsp of soft butter. Sprinkle the flour into each pan and tip them from side to side to coat, discarding any loose flour.

2. Clarify the remaining butter. In a small saucepan, melt the butter slowly over low heat without letting it brown. Let it rest for a minute off the heat, then skim off the foam. Spoon the clear butter into a bowl and set aside. Discard the milky solids at the bottom of the pan.
Cake batter after step 3
3. In an electric mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla and 1 cup of sugar together at high speed for at least 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and fluffy.

4. Sift the flour and cocoa together and add to the egg mixture a little at a time, folding it in gently with a rubber spatula. Finally, add the clarified butter 2 tablespoons at a time, being careful to not overmix. Gently pour the batter into the prepared cake pans dividing it evenly amongst the three.

5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 5 minutes. Then run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake and turn them out on racks to cool out completely.

6. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup by placing the sugar and water in Combine sugar and water in small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring only until the sugar dissolves. Boil briskly, uncovered, for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. When the syrup is lukewarm stir in the kirsch or brandy.

7. Prick each cake in several places with a skewer. Sprinkle the layers evenly with the syrup and let them rest for at least 5 minutes.

8. Drain the tinned cherries and rinse in cold water. Dry completely with paper towels.

9. Whizz the cream until it thickens slightly and sift the icing sugar over the cream. Continue beating until the cream forms firm peaks then pour in kirsch or cherry branding in a thin stream, beating only until the liquid is absorbed.

10. Make the chocolate curls but running a vegetable peeler down the side of the bar of chocolate. 

11. Assemble the cake. Place one of the cakes in the center of a serving plate. With a spatula, spread the top with a 1/2-inch-thick layer of whipped cream and place the dried canned cherries over, leaving about 1/2 inch of cream free of cherries around the perimeter. Gently set a second layer on top of the cherries and spread it with 1/2 inch of whipped cream. Then set the third layer in place.  Spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream.

12. With your fingers, gently press chocolate curls into the cream on the sides of the cake and arrange a few chocolate curls and fresh cherries on top.


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