Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A black forest

A cake can mark many an occasion, some less celebratory than others. Recently, I farewelled a boss who has now gone to manage another team. Her "last" day co-insided with her birthday so a cake was in order for a day of mixed emotion.

I received the Susannah Blake book, 500 Cakes in my work Kris Kringle last year. At the time I tested the book's breadth by checking that it contained all my team mates' favourite cakes, so I knew my boss loved a black forest cake. Given my shared love of this German classic and my weakness for all things layered, my decision to whip one up was a no-brainer. Reviews from my hungry colleagues were very positive but it was filling. Note to self: cut smaller slices in an office full of women. The actual cake was very tasty but slightly dense, presumable to make cutting it into thirds easier. I was expecting something fluffier and more dessert-like overall, but it was a classic 'cake' just as the description suggested.

Black Forest Gateau

200 g (7oz) butter, at room temperature
140 g (5 oz) caster sugar
3 eggs
190 g (6 1/2 oz) self-raising flour
85 g (3 oz) cocoa
120 ml (4 fl oz) buttermilk (or 60 ml milk mixed with 4 tbsp plain yoghurt)
90 ml (3 fl oz) milk
850 g (1 lb 14 oz) tinned pitted cherries, drained
4 tbsp Kirsch
625 ml (1 pint) whipping cream, whipped
Dark chocolate curls to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F / Gas mark 4).Grease a 23-cm (9-in) round cake tin, then line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour and cocoa over the bowl, then fold in. Stir in the buttermilk and milk. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Pick out a few of the best-looking cherries to decorate the top of the cake and set aside. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice the cake horizontally into three layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate; drizzle about one-third of the Kirsch over it and top with about half the remaining cherries.

Spread with about one-quarter of the whipped cream and place the second layer of the cake on top.

Repeat with more Kirsch, cherries and whipped cream. Top with the remaining cake layer. Drizzle the remaining Kirsch over the top layer, then spread whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. Chill for about 2 hours then serve decorated with the reserved cherries and dark chocolate curls.

Serves 8-10

Source: 500 Cakes by Susannah Blake

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