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Jun 19, 2012 07:39 AM

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 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...