Black Forest cakes for birthdays used to be the height of sophistication when I was a kid. I loved the rich, creamy white icing and chocolate shavings, although I wasn’t always keen on cherries.
These days, conventional Black Forest cakes are just too rich for me. So what I’ve done is designed my own scaled-down, lightened-up version of it.
The main flavours of a Black Forest cake are chocolate and cherry. The chocolate part is easy. For the cherry flavour, I used jam, especially in the buttercream icing. I mean, why not jam? You need a liquid to thin the icing to the right consistency anyway, so why not use cherry jam? (Actually, this time I used a berry jam, but you get the idea.) And if you use a jam with chunky bits, they show up in the icing, which I think looks pretty cool.
2 layers of chocolate cake (Try this very reliable recipe.)
A bar of good chocolate
A small jar of cherry jam or any berry jam
For the icing:
150g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
300g icing sugar
2-4 tbsp of the jam
Makes enough to ice and decorate a 7-inch cake.
Step 1: Beat the butter and salt in your mixer on high for a few minutes until it lightens slightly. Sift in the icing sugar and mix with a tablespoon of the jam. Add more jam until you achieve a stiff but spreadable consistency.
Step 2: Warm about three tablespoons of the jam in a microwave for about 30 seconds until runny. If it’s still not runny, mix in a little hot water.
Step 3: Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serving platter. Brush the runny jam all over the cake layer. Spread a nice thick layer of icing on top, staying clear of the sides. Gently place the next layer of cake on top. Again, brush with the jam and top with icing. I didn’t bother with icing the sides to give it a Victoria-sponge look.
Step 4: You can pipe some sort of decoration around the top like I did, but it’s not necessary. To hint at a classic Black Forest cake, shave some chocolate over the top. Make sure your chocolate bar is fridge-cold, then use a vegetable peeler to shave curls of chocolate over your cake.
I find that my version of a Black Forest cake is much more palatable to my adult self than the classic one. The jam in the buttercream gives it a nice fresh flavour. And, most importantly, it’s much, much easier to put together than a traditional Black Forest.
Against my better judgment and earlier complaints, I did use an all-butter icing. However, the weather’s been freakishly cold lately, so I dared to make it. Plus, it reminds me of the richness of Black Forest cakes of my youth. However, if your cake is going to be standing out in warm weather, I would recommend substituting some of the butter for shortening.