Bonjour, mes amis! This week, we’re baking a Forêt Noire (or, Black Forest Cake). Bright red cherries and delicious chocolate make this an ideal dessert for holiday meals.
“But hold on”, I hear you saying. A Black Forest Cake is German, not French. Et vous avez raison! The Black Forest is a mountainous region in southwest Germany. And the Black Forest Cake – or Black Forest Gâteau, if you prefer – originated in this region. The Black Forest borders the French region of Alsace. The culture and cuisine of the region is a blend of German and French influences. This might explain why the BFC was a regular fixture on French bistro menus up until the 1980s.
Like so many traditional dishes, it seems like ever family has “the real” recipe for Black Forest Cake. Much of what you find in restaurants today – if you do find this beautiful gâteau – can be sticky, overly sweet, and too cloying. I love this particularly recipe myself because it captures the essence of a BFC without being over the top. The cake relies on a bit of baking powder and stiffly beaten egg whites for height which makes for an incredibly light sponge. It’s just the sort of dessert you’d want after a rich holiday meal.
Many recipes will have you make the cherry filling from scratch. I’ve opted for canned cherry filling for a couple of reasons. First, finding fresh cherries in December in the US (or France or Germany, for that matter) is no easy task. And if you do, odds are that they’ve been shipped halfway around the world (bad for the environment) and were picked before they were ripe to protect them during shipping (bad for your taste buds). You’ll want to look for a good quality cherry filling in the market since it plays such a critical role in the dessert. And remember, more cherries is always a good thing.
And now cher lecteurs, without further adieu, a thoroughly modern Forêt Noire.
- 5 large eggs separated
- 1 C granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 C all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ⅓ C corn starch
- ¼ C unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 can cherry pie filling 21-ounce size can
- 1 C heavy whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Grease the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with ½ C of the granulated sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form – about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment on your mixer. In the same bowl (no need to wash the bowl), combine the egg yolks, remaining ½ C granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until thick, creamy, and light yellow in color.
- Add the egg yolk mixture to the beaten egg whites. Carefully fold the ingredients together using a silicon spatula. The egg whites will collapse if you you over mix, so go slowly.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and cocoa powder in a small mixing bowl. Sieve over the egg mixture and gently fold in until combined.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the pan on a lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. NOTE: every oven is different, so you may need to bake longer that the suggested time. Use the toothpick test to judge doneness.
- Place a piece of parchment paper over a wire cooling rack. Remove the cake from the oven. Remove the ring from the springform pan and invert the pan onto the wire rack (the metal bottom of the pan should be facing the ceiling). Remove the metal bottom of the pan and the parchment paper from what is now the top of the cake. Allow to cool completely.
- Measure the height of the cooled cake. Insert toothpicks halfway up the side of the cake at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock. Using a serrated bread knife and the toothpicks as guides, cut the cake into two layers.
- Place one layer cut side up on a cake plate.
- Using a metal whisk, whip the heavy whipping cream to make whipped cream. Put the whipped cream into a piping bag fit with a rosette tip.
- Pipe a ring of whipping cream in a circle on the top of the first layer of the cake. The ring should be at the out edge of the top of the layer, and will act as a sort of wall to ensure that the cherry filling doesn't ooze out between the layers.
- Spread ½ of the can of cherry filling inside the whipped cream ring. Place the second layer on top of the first.
- Repeat the whipped cream ring on the top of the second layer, and spread the remaining cherry filling inside the whipped cream ring.
- Feel free to add decorative whipped cream rosettes to the top of the cake.