Tuesday, February 16, 2016

An Updated Black Forest Cake

Do you ever feel like waiting patiently is the hardest part? Waiting for a cake to bake and then cool?  Waiting for pie crust to spend a little time in the refrigerator? Or for butter to soften?...but then in the end the time spent waiting patiently is worth it.  Sometimes we are just waiting anxiously to get a text back from a friend.  Or I remember the days...several years ago now when I would wait, what felt like hours in college, for a phone call from Charles.  Or right out of college just hoping and waiting to get an email back from and of the what felt like 100s of companies I had applied for jobs with.  Ultimately though the wait tends to be worth, the right person, thing, job comes along or the cake that took hours turns out just the way it is supposed to...almost as if it were fate.  

Sometimes I think we could all use just a bit more patience; I know I definitely can in some respects.  I used to want to be able to rush making a batch of cookies, but they ultimately always turn out better if you let the butter soften and if you give the batter just a few minutes in the refrigerator.  Sometimes I want to rush through tasks at work, but I have learned that it never works out for the best when I do because I always miss a little task.  Or like this cake, with its multiple different processes, there was no rushing this one.  Especially since it was for a friends birthday party that I couldn't even make.  I just wanted to make sure it was exactly what she wanted, and I do believe it was.  So, if you like the classic black forest cake give this naked version a try and Enjoy!

Back to running and by running I mean training...this snow in DC though is getting in the way.  On this day though, I knew I had to suck it up and try to get my 17 miles in, since it was actually snowing the day before.

When there is snow, there are day trips to go skiing!

Okay, Okay the cake...

A view from the top.  I was so happy to find fresh cherries in the middle of January.

Black Forest Cake: (Recipe adapted from Butter and Brioche
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk

For the Cherries:
3 cups (24 oz) whole cherries, pitted
3/4 cup kirsch liqueur
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces (1 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

8 ounces semisweet
1/4 cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray the bottom of three 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and then line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds.

2.  In a large bowl, using a mixer or the back of a fork, cream together the butter and sugars until completely combined, if using a mixer they should be fluffy.  Then whisk in the eggs one at a time, ensuring each is completely mixed in.  Then whisk in the vanilla extract and set aside.

3.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  

4.  Alternating between the flour mixture and the buttermilk, add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until just combined.  Then whisk in about half of the buttermilk just until combined.  Next mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture until combined, followed by the remaining buttermilk and ending with the remaining flour mixture.  Divide the batter evenly among the the pans.  Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool to room temperature. 

5.  While the cakes are in the oven prepare the cherries and whipped cream.  

6. Place the pitted cherries in a saucepan with cherry liquor and sugar. Bring to a light boil and then reduce temperature and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring carefully often, until the cherries have softened but are not reduced to mush.  Strain the mixture, placing the cherries in one bowl and reserved syrup in another.  Use the left over syrup to brush over the cooling cakes.

7.  For the whipped cream, in a medium size mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, mix together heavy cream, sugar and vanilla.  Start mixer on a lower speed and slowly increase the speed.  Mix until light peaks form.  Place whipped cream in the refrigerator until ready to be used.

6.  While the cakes are cooling prepare the ganache.  For the ganache, bring cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate, and add salt. Let stand for 10 minutes (don't stir - doing so will cool the ganache too quickly, making it grainy).  After 10 minutes, stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify cream and chocolate.  Chocolate will often settle on the bottom or sides of the bowl.  Scrape dish with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of it. Let cool until somewhat thickened, and a consistency not to runny but thick enough to pour and settle on the cake.

7.  Once the cakes have cooled, carefully remove them from the pans, running a sharp knife between the outside of the cake and the inside of the pan if necessary.  Carefully remove them to cooling racks.  Chose your bottom layer, and if it has a hump in the middle, carefully flatten it using a long sharp knife.  Using a pastry brush, spread some of the cherry syrup over this layer, then top with whipped cream and halved cherries.  Repeat with the next layer. For the top, brush uncut cake with cherry syrup mixture, then pour chocolate ganache over top.  Next, top with remaining whipped cream and decorate as desired with fresh uncut cherries.  Store in the refrigerator until serving and Enjoy!

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