It was someone’s birthday recently and a very specific request for cake was made: Black Forest Kirschtorte! I haven’t made this cake in quite some time and had forgotten which was my GOTO recipe. So I sat down with my favourite pastry cookbook, Barbara Maher’s Traditional Cakes and Pastries, published by Burlington Books in 1984. Coincidentally, this book was a gift from one of my dearest friends, University Kim (I have two Kim’s so I’ve differentiated this way for years!) she signed it “a friend forever” and she sure is!
I’ve made many successful recipes from this cookbook from the Normandy Apple Tart to Profiteroles (and some that I haven’t even blogged about) and for the most part the recipes were detailed and correct. Not this one.
I usually read through the ingredients to make sure I have everything I need and I skim the directions to make sure I know what I’m doing, which I also did. But when I actually got down to the nitty gritty to make the cake (well into it, to be exact), I noticed that they completely forgot to include the flour in the instructions (actually, in this case it was the almond mix). So I had to improvise and it seems to have worked. The cake is a genoise-style with strong chocolate flavouring from both melted good quality chocolate (I used this one) and cocoa powder. It’s light enough that you don’t squeeze out all the whipped cream when you cut it, but it’s got enough body to hold the drunken cherries. All in all, quite a tasty recipe and it’s Gluten Free! I stabilized the whipped cream so that it lasts a few days, otherwise it will just make the cake soggy.
I cut the recipe down to 1/3 size because we didn’t want a large cake and I added the cocoa powder because we like chocolate and removed flour and bread crumbs ingredients, you can definitely check the original recipe on page 93 in her cookbook. The recipe is a bit different that what you might be used to in North America as the cinnamon really flavours the chocolate beautifully, if you’re not a fan, leave it out!
Black Forest Kirschtorte
Original recipe by Barbara Maher’s Traditional Cakes and Pastries, published by Burlington Books in 1984.
Makes one small cake, about 2 cups of batter. Serves 4-7 people.
Ingredients for the cake:
- 42 g ground almonds (not blanched, coarsely ground)
- 1/3 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp ground cloves
- 10 mL kirsch
- 47 g caster sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp orange extract
- 2 tbsp crême fraiche or sour cream
- 33 g good quality chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
- 2 egg whites
Directions for the cake:
- Pre-heat your oven to 350° F (180° C).
- Prepare your pan by coating all over with butter and dredge with sugar.
- Combine the almonds, cinnamon, cloves and moisten with kirsch.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the sugar and egg yolks and beat until thick, creamy and pale in colour. Add the orange extract, melted chocolate, crême fraiche and lastly the cocoa powder and mix well.
- Fold in the beaten egg whites.
- Pour evenly into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the cake has shrunken for the sides a little bit.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out to a cooling rack.
Ingredients for the cherry syrup and whipped cream:
- about 20 fresh cherries with stems and pits (around 330 g or 3/4 lb). Reserve 7 cherries for decoration, set aside.
- 33 g (1 oz) granulated sugar
- 85 mL (3 oz) red wine
- 85 mL (3 oz) water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 30 mL (5 oz) kirsch
- 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
- 1 tsp gelatin
Directions the cherry syrup and whipped cream:
- While the cake is baking wash, pit and stem the cherries; cut them in half.
- In a small sauce pan add the sugar, red wine, water, cinnamon stick. Simmer for 20 minutes, add the halved cherries and poach lightly for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cherries and allow to drain into a dish. To thicken the syrup, bring to a boil and cook down for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the kirsch, stir well.
- Soften the gelatin in a very little bit of water (2 tbsp) set aside while you whip cream.
- In a very cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form, add the softened gelatin and whip to combine evenly.
Directions to decorate the cake:
- Cut the cooled cake in half. Drizzle the cherry syrup onto the bottom and top layers and allow to absorb. Spread an even layer of whipped cream and dot with poached cherries. Add a bit more whipped cream on top.
- Place the top layer down on the bottom layer and drizzle with the cherry syrup (reserve some syrup and poached cherries for serving). Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and decorate with the seven cherries that were reserved at the onset.
- Serve with cherry syrup drizzled on the plate and some of the reserved cherries.