Schwarzwald Kirschtorte – Black Forest Gateau

Greetings peeps, here’s something I made a little while ago on a baking weekend over in Wales at a small gathering of fellow bread-heads. A departure from the norm, I would agree, but something fun nevertheless which turned out to be pretty tasty.

Black Forest Gateau

Black Forest Gateau

And here’s the recipe, should you want to have a go yourself:

Black Forest Gateau

Recipe is for a gateau approx 8 inches in diameter. Serves 10 – 12.
Preparation happens in stages – reckon on needing 2 days to prepare and then construct and consume on the 3rd day.

Day 1: Cherry Marinade –

550g pitted and halved tinned black cherries
100ml kirsch

Drain the cherries, reserving the cherry liquid separately to use the following day. Add the kirsch to the cherries in a container and seal, before placing into the fridge overnight.

Day 2: Cakes –

160g plain flour
65g cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
115g unsalted butter, room temp
240g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
310ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line 3 x 8 inch baking tins (the kind with removable bottoms).
In a bowl, combine together the plain flour, cocoa powder and baking powder, for use shortly.
Using a hand-held electric whisk, cream together the butter and sugar in a separate, large mixing bowl, until pale in colour. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk briefly to incorporate these ingredients.
In 3 stages, add ⅓ of the dry ingredients and ⅓ of the buttermilk to the butter, egg and sugar mixture, whisking each time to fully incorporate the ingredients. You should end up with a fairly thick, dark brown batter.
Divide the batter equally amongst the 3 lined cake tins and allow to stand for up to 5 mins (to let the batter settle) before placing into the pre-heated oven for approx 20 minutes. Check the cakes are done by carefully inserting a skewer (or similar) and seeing if it comes out clean when pulled out.
When cakes are done, allow to cool on wire racks, removing the cakes from the tins after 20 minutes of cooling time.
Once cakes are properly cooled, drain and keep the kirsch from the cherries (which you prepared the day before), setting aside the cherries in their container. Using a toothpick (or similar), make lots of tiny holes in the top surface of each cake, before taking a pastry brush and dipping it into the kirsch so that you can brush it onto the cake surfaces. Given the amount of kirsch, it will be necessary to brush the cakes a few times, each time allowing the kirsch to soak into the cake’s surface.

Once complete, place each cake into a container and refrigerate overnight.

Day 3: Filling and Cake Build –

40ml cherry liqueur
Cherry syrup from tinned cherries
95g unsalted butter, room temp
220g icing sugar
pinch salt

Add the cherry syrup from the tinned cherries to a small saucepan and place over heat, to reduce the cherry syrup down to a thick, sticky sauce: you will be aiming to reduce down until you have about 2 tablespoons of liquid in the pan, no more. Set aside until cool.

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand-held electric whisk, beat together the butter, salt and icing sugar, until lightly creamed but not too thick. Add the now cooled, reduced cherry syrup and cherry liqueur to the butter icing and whisk further until a thicker consistency is achieved.

Retrieve the marinated cherries, and set aside 100g out of the original 550g to go on top of the cake, then divide out the 450g of remaining cherries into 2 piles, which will be used for the 2 filling layers.
Prepare a cake stand or base and place the first of the 3 cakes on it. The cherry-flavoured butter icing filling we have prepared is going to need to be used in 2 layers, so divide up into 2 either visually or using separate bowls.
Using a metal bakers spatula, take half of the amount of filling to be used for the first layer, and spread it evenly over the top of the first cake base. Take the first portion of filling cherries and place them evenly across the butter icing. Take the second cake base and spread the remaining half of ‘first layer’ filling over the underside of it, before carefully now placing it onto the decorated bottom cake base. Note that at this stage we should not have butter icing on the top of the second cake base, rather we have sandwiched the cherries for the first layer in between 2 layers of butter icing.
Now take half of the amount of the second portion of butter icing filling, and again using the spatula spread it evenly over the top side of the second cake base. Repeat the procedure of decorating with the second portion of filling cherries, and use the remainder of the second portion of butter icing to cover the underside of the third cake base.
Once this is completed, we should have a cake comprising of 3 bases, with 2 layers, each of which comprises a layer of butter icing, cherries and another layer of icing, and the top side of the top cake base currently bare.

Cake Topping –

400ml double cream
2 tblsp icing sugar
30ml kirsch
30g fine milk powder (optional, only needed if topping is not whisked thick enough)

60g dark chocolate, grated (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, using the electric hand-held whisk, beat the double cream until soft peaks are developing. Add the icing sugar and kirsch and carry on whisking until a stiffer texture is achieved, that will support being spread over the top and sides of the cake. Only if the mixture seems a bit slack should you add the optional milk powder, which will give it more body.

Using your baker’s spatula, spread the kirsch cream over the top and sides of the cake, so that an even finish is achieved and no cake is visible through the cream.
Finish off the decoration by placing the remaining cherries on the top of the cake, in whatever design takes your fancy.

Optionally, grated chocolate may now be applied to the top of the cake before it is ready to serve.

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