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Black Forest Cake - High Quality Recipe?

I've never liked this cake in any of the bakery iterations I've eaten. I've always found the chocolate flavor kind of insipid and not deep enough and cherry is usually cloying and gloopy. I have a ton of frozen sour cherries (the result of exuberance at the farmer's market).

I'd like to make it from scratch and started out this morning looking for a great recipe but I'm not finding it. Would I be better off combining separate components (boozy cherry compote, great cake, great whipped cream frosting) or has someone saved me the trouble and done a really good version?

If you have a link or a cookbook that does so, please let me know. I'm not opposed to buying another cake cookbook if you'd prefer not to transcribe the recipe here!

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  1. I've also been on a quest for this, so I don't have a recipe for you, but I will say the version I made a month ago wasn't that good, precisely because the cake was super chocolatey. With a black forest cake, you really don't want that. The flavors should be balanced. I made a basic devil's food cake in layers and filled it with sour cherries (sweetened with a little sugar and then thickened with cornstarch) and whipped cream. My next version was much better, a chocolate sponge cake roll sprinkled with kirsch, then filled with the sweetened sour cherries, kirsch, and whipped cream. It was very good, but nothing like what I'd had in some Paris bakeries. The kirsch makes a huge difference and you need a lot more than you think. I was very sparing with it at first because it tastes so nasty by itself, but in the cake, it was delicious.

    My next version will use a chocolate genoise, and you might want to try this as well. It will give you some deep chocolate flavor, but I don't think it will overwhelm he cherries and cream. Don't oversweeten your cherries and definitely use a lot of kirsch.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Isolda

      Good kirsch does not taste nasty. You should use a higher quality eau de vie, as they do in Germany.

      I agree that the chocolate should be understated - the end result does not taste like a chocolate cake really but transforms into something else.

      1. re: lowereastrittenhouse

        I'm sure kirsch isn't nasty to many people, but I just don't like most distilled spirits. With the exception of single malt scotch, many of them taste like cough syrup to me.

    2. Black Forest Gateau used to be a standard offering in British chain restaurants in the 1970s. They were universally awful and it's put me off it for nigh on 40 years. If someone can come up with a decent recipe, I'd also be interested

      1. This seems close to the recipe I had as a child sometimes. Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen http://www.food.com/recipe/authentic-... At least the large quantity of Kirschvasser. seems right :) The problem, as one commenter noted, is that it does not keep well. Of course, you need to use good cocoa and other ingredients!

        Now I have one more thing to make.

        1. I've spent a lot of time both in Germany and, in an unrelated project, perfecting the best ever chocolate cake recipe. I keep the recipe a close secret (still working on it!) but I find that using real chocolate rather than cocoa powder makes a massive difference - you get a more aromatic, mellow chocolateyness, just use the same weight of chocolate as you use of sugar, butter and flour, stir it in melted, and add a bit more baking powder (approx 1 tsp). For the best black forest gateau use a batter like this with a kirsch(or brandy)/cherry compote, cooked long enough to get nicely intense, and stab lots of deep but narrow holes in the cake with a cocktail stick before you slather the compote on top, so that it can all soak into the cake and make it unbelievably moist :) A big spoonful of jam in the compote helps to give it a roundness. Top that with whipped cream, then lots of grated dark chocolate, then another layer of all of the above. You'll have a heart attack of course, but it will be worth it ;) trust me...

            1. Thanks for all the suggestions. It sounds like there are two schools of thought -- the lighter genoise and the deeper and heavier gateau. Both are probably wonderful just quite different. Maybe I need to make both and give them a shot!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Super Salad

                Therebis a nice looking recipe in the Simon Hopkinson book The Prawn Cocktail years. I haven't tried it but his recipes are generally excellent.

                1. re: Super Salad

                  Did you end up baking one or two Black Forest Cakes/Tortes/Gateaus? If so, which one turned out best?

                  This recipe looks good to me. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... It'll probably be the next classic cake that I attempt to bake.

                2. I made a Black Forest cake using the cake bible and it was horrible, very dry and tasteless. I made it again using a chocolate cake recipe from epicurious, and used a generic whipped cream frosting recipe I found online with cherry brandy added to the frosting. I also made some cherry compote with frozen cherries for the filling. I would recommend using different recipes for each component similar to what I did, in order to get the results you want, I.e. a moist heavy cake base versus a light and airy cake base. When I combined recipes that I liked and had success with in the past my results were phenomenal.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Redstickchef

                    I'm planning to use a more German-style recipe, with ground almonds in the cake batter, genuine good quality kirsch, sour cherries, real whipping cream.
                    It seems most English language recipes online are North Americanized, so I might be translating from the German recipe that looks right.

                    1. re: Redstickchef

                      I'm not sure if you found a recipe yet, but I came across a Schwarzwalder kirschtorte recipe in the time life cookbook "Foods of the World: The Cooking of Germany". It looks authentic, and if you are interested I can upload the recipe for you.

                    2. I make this every year for my SO's bday. I have played around with different recipes and found that the one in my Joy of Cooking cookbook to be the best. it is more work as the cakes are actually a Genoise (three layers), but that works really well to soak up the kirsch. I will be doing this one again this year, and it is the first recipe to be repeated.

                      this is close but not quite what is in the book:

                      the genoise in my recipe is cut in three layers, there is a simple syrup with kirsch you use to brush on each layer. Also one of the layers has chocolate whipped cream and cherries. The cherries I use are just frozen pitted bing cherries from my summer crop. You don't make a compote but easily could if that suited you, I prefer just straight cherries and have the booze be in the cake layers.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cleopatra999

                        That sounds great. Thanks for all the details. I'm planning to use fresh cherries.

                      2. I don't know why I never came across the Swedish take on Black Forest before the last 24 h. Changed my mind, my next Black Forest will be a Schwarzwaldtårta.