Sunday, 24 October 2010

Black Forest Gateaux (BFG)

Note: This post is overloaded with pictures. You may straight away head over to the recipe at the end, but I have given little tips in the last paragraph before the recipe and little information about the cake, it's origin etc..You may read it if interested..

I feel there is no better dessert than a Black forest to celebrate any occasion like Birthdays, potlucks and even informal gatherings. It makes way to a perfect party dessert and it is always liked by kids and adults alike. Today is my Birthday and we are also moving to a new home on the very same day. My dad and one of my sisters will also be celebrating their Birthdays next week. So, let me share my happiness with this bit of indulgence that looks elegant, tastes brilliant and an all time favourite dessert – Black Forest Gateaux.

Black Forest Cake also known as Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte in German or Black Forest Gateaux is a cake that is adorned with several layers of whipped cream and cherries. To add an extra elegance, it is also topped with extra whipped cream, cherries, chocolate shavings and chocolate curls. In the traditional recipe, a brandy named Kirchwasser is added which is related to its name, Kirschtorte. I have substituted that with cherry syrup by cooking cherries with sugar and water. This is a non alcoholic version of the traditional Black forest, so I cant name it Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, But it is still a black forest gateau without Kirschwaser.

I thought it had some steps involved in making, but it was a straight forward recipe that even a kid could master it! A basic sponge, some whipped cream, some cooked cherries and a basic sugar syrup and doesn’t require a pro-skill. Does that sound so complicated?? But I have to accept the fact it takes a bit of time, as I did everything from scratch, like pitting the cherries, making chocolate shavings etc, which requires quite sometime. But these thigs dint worry me at all, all that I was worried about was the cake. I wanted a perfect cake, that is spongy and not dry, something that uses less ingredients and that needs less skill to make it. Googled it and came through millions of recipes which even confused me more. So I just gave it up and relied on a the cake book that enjoy flipping through every now and then. To make the job easier, you can substitute the fresh cherries with the crystallized ones, buy ready made chocolate curls and sprinkles.

Here, I have used English dark cherry of Kordia variety which is sweet, juicy, fleshy and huge compared to the regular variety. It is deep red in colour and it is around 3-4 times larger than the regular cherries. They are as pricey as their size too compared to the regular varieties. They were so sweet that most of the time they were guzzled as fresh as they are and dint make its way to my baking. They are quite cheap during the season, but shoots up as soon as the season starts changing. That was when I bought some extra and stashed in the freezer so that I could save something for this cake. And despite using frozen cherries, they pretty well held together without being squishy, that I could use them for garnishing as well. I know I am sharing this cheery-licious cake waaay after the cherry season, but I was so obsessed with making Black Forest Gateaux that I had to bake it this time. . You can easily make it with glaced cherries (Maraschino cherries) and syrup substituting fresh ones whenever fresh echerries are off the season. I have also seen recipes using canned cherries. I have never used them and dont know how good they are.

Photography Technique: Coutesy of Lovely Sala Kannan @ . Hope over to her place to have stunning  visual treatment and her special recipes.

Here to make the procedure easy, I have shared some tips all along the way through out the preparation processwa instead of giving it all at the end. Hope you find it useful. I baked cake and made chocolate shavings the first day. I whipped some cream, made cherry syrup and assembled them the next day. But let me warn you something, If you are trying to make it all in a day, it might be a bit tiring and a very long procedure. I have been there, So try to split the work and do it in a matter of two days. I would make this recipe again, not once, but every occassion I get. It is simply delicious.

Note: Recipe of Sponge is adapted from My cake decorating book which is already packed away for shifting. Will update its name and authors later as appropriate.
Ingredients :
For the sponge/Gateaux:
5 medium eggs
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
75g unsalted butter, melted

For Whip cream filling:
570 mls/ 2 ¼ cups double cream
4-5 tablespoons caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence

For cherry filling and syrup:
½ kilo ripe dark cherries like Kordia variety, pitted and chopped, reserving 8 whole cherries or more depending on the size of cherries for decoration
¼ cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
¼ tsp vanilla essence

150g plain chocolate
Few fresh cherries reserved

** Number of eggs in the recipe has been changed from 3 large to 5 medium eggs. Sorry for the typo.


1. For the sponge: Grease 2 deep 8 inch round pans, line the bases and sides with baking paper.

2. Place eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric beater at high speed for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the mixture is thick and pale yellow in colour.

3. Sift together cocoa and plain flour, then sift again to the egg and sugar mixture. Fold in gently, then trickle in the melted butter and continue to fold until everything is well mixed. Note: Do not over mix the batter here as it will knock out air bubbles and result in a hard cake than a soft and fluffy sponge.

4. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius for 10 minutes. Divide the mixture equally (if you can manage) into the prepared tin and smooth the surfaces. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until springy to touch and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave it in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn the cake over to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: I couldn’t divide the batter equally in both pans. One pan had more batter than the other. So I baked the one with more batter for 30 minutes and the one containing less batter was done in 22 minutes. But they were baked well.

To prepare the cream filling:

In a large bowl, place whipping cream and sugar and whip until it holds soft peaks. Add vanilla essence and whip until combined. Set aside.

To make cherry filling and syrup:

Place chopped cherries, sugar, water in a sauce pan and gently bring to boil. Once it has come to boil, reduce heat and simmer until cherries have become slightly soft. Strain the cherries and place the liquid back to saucepan and gently simmer it until you have around ¾ cup of liquid left. If you had just around 1/2- 3/4 cup of syrup after boiling the cherries, that should be enough. Dont reduce it further.

Notes: Here, I bought fresh cherries and froze them for later use as I could not make the gateaux as planned. I made it after a while when cherries were not season as well. The frozen berries when thawed had released some juice already before cooking them hence I added only less amount of water while cooking it. You can also adjust and add more sugar if needed, if your cherries are sour ones. I also discovered that freezing cherries makes pitting them a lot easier. You can just squish them to pit them and them chop them further if they are large. If you are using fresh cherries that are not frozen, please add couple of tablespoons more of water before cooking. You need to have around ¾ syrup however for soaking the cake.

If you don’t have fresh cherries in hand, just substitute them with glace cherries and simple sugar syrup. You can use around 300g of glace cherries chopped or even less if you like it less.

For chocolate shavings and curls:

1. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, or in a double boiler. Make sure water doesn’t touch the bowl containing chocolate. Once they are all melted, spread the chocolate on a plastic/wooden chopping board/ marble set on a damp cloth to prevent it from slipping. Spread the chocolate evenly over the surface with a flat palette knife or any large knife.

2. leave the chocolate to cool slightly, it should feel just set, but not completely hard. Hold a large, sharp knife at a 45 degree angle to the chocolate and push it along the chocolate in short sawing movements from right to left and left to right to make curls. Remove curls by sliding knife underneath each one and lifting it off. Keep in fridge until ready to use. You can crush these curls gently to make chocolate shavings. Or you can grate a chocolate using a box grater or a vegetable peeler. Make sure the chocolate is at room temperature to do this.

For assembling:

1. Slice each cake horizontally into two. (I cut one cake into 2 and other one I just left it as one piece as it was quite thin to slice it into two. So I had three pieces of cake)

2. Place one slice of cake on a serving plate/dish/cake stand. (Snip the baking paper into several 8-10 cm long pieces. Gently slide these papers all around underneath the cake. This will gather all the mess that has occurred in the decorating process. Once decorating is done, these can be taken out slowly leaving the serving plate clean and mess free.)

3. Sprinkle 3-4 tablespoon of the syrup all over the first cake. Add 1/3rd of the whipped cream and spread it all around.

4. Sprinkle half of the cherries all over the whipping cream. Place another layer of cake and press gently. Sprinkle all over again with 3-4 tablespoon of the syrup, add cream, spread it and scatter cherries equally all over. Top with the last piece of cake and gently press down. Sprinkle again with 3-4 tablespoon of cherry syrup all over. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and sides of the gateau, spreading evenly with a palette knife. Using a piping bag, swirl few extra cream on top as well to place cherries, if wished.

Note: I haven’t used all of the syrup. I just sprinkled 3-4 tablespoon of the syrup on each layer of cake just enough to moisten it. Around ¼ cup was left behind after the use. Don’t sprinkle more than mentioned as it may result in a soggy cake.

5. Using hands, stick chocolate shavings on to the sides of the cake. Place few chocolate curls on to the centre of the cake and decorate with reserved cherries with stalks intact if possible. Cherries can also be coated in melted chocolate before arranging on the cake. Dip the cherries in melted chocolate and place it on a baking paper to dry if you are doing that.

This post of mine goes for the Monthly Mingle - Fruits in baking hosted by Deeba who writes at her gorgeous blog Passionate about baking.

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