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Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

A Seventies classic – Black Forest Cake

August seems full of birthdays (not sure what makes November such a sexy month!) so I’ve been making a lot of birthday cakes, including for one of my brothers. We’re both children of the Seventies, so maybe that’s why he requested this rich chocolate and cherry concoction – Black Forest Cake (I don’t feel justified in calling it a gateaux). This isn’t strictly following a classic recipe; if it was the sponge would get soaked in kirsch and I’m not a fan of soggy sponge, but all the essential Black Forest flavours are here and everyone enjoyed it so nobody seemed bothered that I strayed from tradition.

Black Forest Cake

For the cake:

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 175g self raising flour
  • half tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp milk

Heat the oven to 190C and grease and line two 9″ cake tins with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars. Add two of the eggs and beat to incorporate. Sift in the cocoa and about half the flour, mix well, then add the remaining eggs and beat again. Add the remaining flour and baking powder and give a good mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the vanilla, coffee powder, syrup and milk and give a final good mix before dividing the cake batter between the two tins. Gently even out the mixture with your spatula and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cakes are done when coming away from the sides of the tin, a skewer inserted comes out clean and they spring back when gently pressed. Remove from the oven, leaving to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so, before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the cherry syrup:

  • 2 tins black cherries in light syrup
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp creme de cacao liqueur (optional)

Strain the cherries into a bowl so that you save the liquid. Press gently on the cherries so that any juice trapped inside gets squeezed out. Set the cherries to one side. In a saucepan, boil the syrup, icing sugar and liqueur (if using – you could also use kirsch, cherry brandy or anything else you have that wouldn’t overpower the cherry flavour) until reduced by about half. The syrup should coat a spoon but still be pourable.  Leave to cool.

For the cream filling:

  • 400ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, whisk all the ingredients until thick – I find it best to do this by hand with a balloon whisk as you can quickly find you go too far with an electric whisk. You want the cream thick enough to cling to the whisk, dropping off easily when tapped on the side of the bowl.

To assemble, put one of the cake on your serving plate and cover with about half the cream. Drizzle a few spoons of the syrup over the cream then add a layer of cherries. Put the other cake on top of the cherries, cover with the remaining cream, decorate with any remaining cherries and some syrup (don’t feel you need to use all the syrup). If you have any chocolate knocking around, finely grate a little over the top of the whole thing. Probably best served after a dinner of duck a l’ orange or alongside a nice cold Cinzano!

If you have any cherry syrup left it would be great on vanilla ice cream, or even a knickerbocker glory!

Cherries, chocolate and cream – Black Forest Cake

A slice of the past; chocolate cake filled with cherries and cream

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Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Cherry Bakerwell Loaf Cake

Personally I’m not a fan of the well-known pastry this cake is inspired by, but my best friend is a bit of a cherry bakewell junkie (she ate them almost every day of her pregnancy – I reckon Mr Kipling was working round the clock to feed her habit). This recipe is what I’ve come up with for her birthday cake; a little nicer than the overly sweet treats consumed during her pregnancy, I’d like to think!

Cherry Bakewell Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 65g self-raising flour, plus 1 tbsp for dusting cherries
  • 65g ground almonds
  • half tsp almond extract or essence
  • half tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 150g glace cherries
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 15g flaked almonds, toasted

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg, then add the flour, mix again, add the second egg and beat again. Add the ground almonds, almond extract and baking powder and give a good mix, then stir in the milk. Put 100g of the glace cherries in a small bowl with the additional tablespoon of flour (reserving the remaining 50g of cherries for the top of the cake) and toss them around so they’re coated. Tip them into the cake batter and fold in so they’re evenly dispersed. Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin, smoothing into the corners and levelling off the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes; it’s done when golden brown, springs back when lightly pressed or a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

If your flaked almonds aren’t toasted already, take advantage of your already hot oven and spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer, baking for about 5 minutes until golden brown; leave to cool. In a bowl mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together to form a thick paste. Once the cake is cooled, remove from the tin and smooth the icing over the top; it’s fine if it runs down the sides a little as it adds to the lovely homemade look. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds and add the remaining glace cherries. Let the icing set for half an hour or so before slicing and serving.