Black Forest Cake Williams Sonoma Style

 

Birthday boy (hubby) wants Black Forest Cake every year and this year is no different.  So Black Forest Cake it is, despite cherries being $7.99/lb at Safeway!!!!!  Of course, I go to Trader Joe’s today and they’re selling about the same amount of cherries in a pack for $4.99!  I was tempted to snatch up the pack and buy it even though we just had cherries the other night and I was already going way over budget with my grocery shopping.  Rest assured, I didn’t buy the cherries JUST because they were cheaper, which I think I have a tendency to do…

 
While driving the kiddos to school yesterday morning, we decided that we would try to throw together a simple surprise “party” (really not a party) for my husband when he got home from work that evening.  So I scrambled last minute to buy the ingredients for the cake and the shrimp scampi (Ina Garten’s recipe) that he so loves and turned my kitchen upside down baking and assembling the cake, then scurrying to make dinner after taking the kids to their dental appointments.  Thank goodness all three of the kids passed their dental check with flying colors and each got balloons which we used for our “decorations” in the entryway! According to my kids, we’re not ready for a party unless we have balloons, albeit just 3 with our dentist’s logo. 🙂    
 
Now about the cake…I love to poach the cherries myself instead of using jarred cherries; they taste so much better!  And we love the combination of chocolate cake with light freshly whipped cream studded with chocolate curls (crumbled curls).  Just blogging about it makes me want to eat the leftover slice of cake right now!  I’ve used this Black Forest Cake recipe from “The Williams Sonoma Baking Book” for a few years now and it never fails and is requested every year by this man.  And I must confess, I just got myself a slice and ate every last crumb and cream… don’t worry, there’s more, hubby.  
 
The cake calls for a 9-inch round cake pan, but I split the batter into two 6-inch cake pans to make a taller 4-layer cake.  If you make it as a 9-inch cake, then split it into 3 layers.


Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease one 9-inch round pan or two 6-inch pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Melt the butter then set aside to cool.  Sift the cake flour and cocoa powder together on a piece of waxed paper and set aside.  Beat the eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed until tripled in volume (about 5 mins) and when you lift the whisk it leaves a trail of thick ribbons of batter.   (See video below)
 
Can you see how much it has inflated in volume and falls into thick ribbons when you lift the whisk?

 
 Remove the bowl from the mixer and carefully sift half of the flour/cocoa mixture onto the egg mixture.  Quickly fold it into the egg mixture before sifting the rest of the flour/cocoa mixture over the batter and again fold it in, being careful not to deflate too much.  Then add a large dollop of batter into the melted (cooled) butter, mix, then pour into the main batter and fold in.  The batter will naturally deflate some while you mix in the other ingredients so don’t panic!

How I “fold” in the powder mixture into my egg mixture with one hand doing the “folding” and the other holding my camera.  Yes, you should actually be holding the bowl still with your other hand while you fold. 🙂
 
 


Pour the batter into prepared cake pans and place into preheated oven and bake for about 30 mins.  Check with a toothpick to see if it is done.  Toothpick should come out clean.  Let it cool in the pan set on a wire rack until it is completely cool.

 

While your cake is baking and cooling, poach your cherries, make the sugar syrup, and shave your chocolate (to decorate your cake).

Poach the cherries: Bring 1 ¾ cups water and 1/3 cup granulated sugar to a boil then add 1 cup of pitted cherries and simmer for 10 mins.  Drain and cool.

Sugar Syrup: Bring 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar to a boil over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, cool and stir in 1 tsp Kirsch (opt)


Chocolate Curls: Use a peeler to “shave” curls off a thick bar of semisweet chocolate.  I like to warm my chocolate with my hands (covered in wrapper) which makes nice curls instead of brittle chips.  



When the cake is completely cool, run a butter knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert the cake, remove parchment, and slice horizontally to make desired number of layers.  


I like to eyeball it when I cut my cake layers, but you can use the toothpick method to cut your cake layers perfectly, a cake leveler, or whatever other trick you have up your sleeve.  After you have your layers, brush your sugar syrup onto the layers on the cut side.  
 
Pour the heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar into a clean mixer bowl and whisk until medium peak consistency.  (Trick: Place your metal mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer until you are ready to whip your cream. Keeps your cream cold for best results and no runny, melted cream)  It should be stiff enough that it retains the peaks and ridges when you lift your whisk (that way you don’t have whipped cream sliding off the cake and will stay put).
After you reach the desired consistency of whipped cream, place a layer of cake onto a cake board or plate, spread with whipped cream, place poached cherries on the cream, cover the cherries with a thin coat of whipped cream, then add another layer of cake and repeat.
 
Be sure your cake is nicely centered on the cake board/plate and get down to eye-level with your cake to see if it’s lopsided and if it needs more cream or you need to place a thicker layer in a certain part of the cake.  When you are done stacking your cake, cover the entire outside with the cream being careful not to introduce cake crumbs into the frosting.  Use plenty of cream and “push” the cream onto the exposed cake and lift carefully so you don’t pull up a bunch of crumbs.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth on the outside since it will be covered with chocolate shavings. 
 
Protect your surface with waxed paper then start covering the top of the cake with chocolate shavings and “throw” some on the sides until you are satisfied with the way the cake it covered.
 
 Place some cherries on top and you’re done!!!


 You look good enough to eat, you!
 
And eat it, we did!
 
 
 
Black Forest Cake (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
Ingredients:
Poached Cherries
  • 1 cup pitted fresh Bing cherries (or frozen)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Sugar syrup
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp Kirsch (opt)
  • Semisweet chocolate curls (decoration) 
  • Fresh Cherries w/ stem (decoration)
Cake
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature 
Whipped Cream (filling/frosting)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar (more or less to taste)
  •  
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease either one 9-inch round cake pan or two 6-inch round cake pans then line the bottom with parchment paper.  Melt the butter and let cool. 
Sift together the flour and cocoa powder onto a sheet of waxed paper and set aside. 

Beat the eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed until tripled in volume (about 5 mins) and when you lift the whisk it leaves a trail of thick ribbons of batter. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift  half the flour mixture over the egg mixture carefully fold in then repeat for the rest of the flour mixture.  Fold a large dollop into the melted butter, then fold back into the egg mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the cake is puffed, about 30 minutes. Toothpick to come out clean (except for a crumb or two). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the sugar syrup, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the optional flavoring (Kirsch) if desired, once cool.

To make the poached cherries, bring 1 ¾ cups water and 1/3 cup granulated sugar to a boil then add 1 cup of pitted cherries and simmer for 10 mins.  Drain and cool.
When the cake is completely cool, run a butter knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert the cake, remove parchment, and slice horizontally to make desired number of layers.  Place the top layer, cut side up, on a cake plate.  After you have your layers, brush your sugar syrup onto the layers on the cut side.  
To make the whipped cream for filling and frosting the cake, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream and confectioners’ sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. 
Place the top cake layer on a cake board/plate, cut side up, and spread your first layer with whipped cream, strew some poached cherries on the cream, cover the cherries with a thin coat of whipped cream, then add another layer of cake and repeat.  Be sure to leave a 1/2-inch border of cream around the edge so the cherries don’t peek out between the layers. Spread the remaining whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake. 
Press the chocolate curls onto the top of the cake and “throw” some on the sides of the cake. Place some fresh cherries on top of the cake in desired pattern.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8 to 10.
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4 thoughts on “Black Forest Cake Williams Sonoma Style

  1. Flora Shin says:

    Come on over and you can have the last slice! Ken and I just helped ourselves to huge leftover slices. Sorry to make you crave it… you're a good cook/baker! You should make one! I found your blog now too! Hope you guys are doing well out east and take care with the storm(s).

    Like

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