This glorious and indulgent Forêt Noire belongs to my culinary traditions rituals. The same way I cherish Maamoul (Semolina cookies) for Easter, cookies and Bûche de Noël for Christmas, I can’t imagine my Birthday without this juicy fruity creamy cake for a cosy teatime with my friends. They, by the way, can’t imagine my special day without that either although the choice of delicious cakes in Germany is far from being limited. You will be dazzled by the rich offer of cakes and pastries at the baker’s on your first visit to the country, and by the baking skills of your German friends especially on special occasions.
Nevertheless my version of the German “Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte” has won their hearts, and hopefully yours. You will love the fluffiness of the sponge cake, the fruitiness of the filling and the subtle taste of rum. Relying on my memory of the famous Forêt Noire we used to buy at one of the best Pâtisseries in Lebanon, I developed the recipe to recreate the flavours from home, with one small change though. I scaled back on sugar in the cake to adapt to my newly acquired German taste buds, and I added no sugar to the cream, or to the canned fruit cocktails syrup. That way, the delicate sweetness in all German sweets, that positively surprised me at the beginning, is well balanced in this cake.
In the recipe I mention Sahnesteif, a cream stabilizer available on the German market. Knowing that it is not available everywhere in this big wide world, I searched the Internet and came across Locust bean gum, which is extracted from the seeds of the Carob tree. The gum is available as a white to yellow-white powder, is neutral in taste and to my surprise used in German kitchens to firm creams. I looked for it at the Organic shop in my town, and easily found it! Another substitute for Sahnesteif is to mix 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar with 1 teaspoon corn flour and add to 250 ml whipping cream. My sister in the States uses heavy cream instead of whipping cream without using any firming agent. She says the cream gets very firm and bravely stands up to room temperature. One final thing; do whatever suits your taste buds, so if you feel you need more sweetness, add little confectioners’ sugar to your heavy cream.
Forêt Noire - Black Forest Cake
Yield 12 pieces
For the sponge cake
- 6-egg whites
- 1 pinch of salt
- 6-egg yolks
- 1 ½ -teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons orange juice
- 250 g granulated sugar
- 240 g all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons Cacao
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
For the fruit cream filling
- 800 g whipping cream
- 4 teaspoons Sahnesteif, if available
- 1 large tin fruit cocktail
- 3 tablespoons rum
- Chocolate shaving or curls to garnish
- For the fruit filling: Pour in the fruit cocktail with the juice into a bowl and mix in the rum.
- Preheat oven at 180°C/ 350°F. Cover the bottom of a 26-cm round springform baking pan with parchment paper.
- Sift the flour, Cacao and baking powder in a bowl. Separate the eggs into 2 different mixing bowls.
- For the sponge cake: Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat at high speed with your mixer until it reaches the perfect foamy stiffness. Set aside. No need to wash beaters before using in the next step!
- Add the vanilla extract, orange juice and sugar to the egg yolks and beat at high speed using the same beaters until the batter doubles in size.
- Gradually add the flour to egg yolk mixture, a little at a time, folding just till blended. Next, carefully fold in third of the egg whites into the yolk flour mixture to lighten it up. Now fold in the rest of the egg whites and make sure not to knock all the air out. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes. Do the toothpick test.
- Let cool for 5 minutes, run a knife around the side of the pan to loosen the cake. Now carefully open the spring form. Place a wired rack on top of the cake and invert it. Remove the bottom of the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Let cool for at least 2 hours. At this point the cake can be tented with aluminium foil and stored overnight at room temperature.
- Place the cake on the serving platter and slice it into 3 layers, either with a thread or a serrated knife.
- For the filling: whip the cream and Sahnesteif until stiff peaks form. Drain the fruit cocktail over a colander reserving the juice. You are not going to need the whole juice! Take half of the whipped cream and mix it with the drained fruits. Reserve the other half for the frosting.
- To assemble the cake: Lift the top 2 layers and place them on the rack. Drizzle about 4 tablespoons of the reserved juice all over the bottom layer. Take half of the fruit cream mixture and evenly spread it over the bottom layer. Cover with the second layer. Repeat as before with the juice and the rest of the filling. Place the top layer over the filling. With a fork poke a few holes all around the top. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the juice over the top layer.
- Last step: Frost the cake with the reserved whipped cream and garnish with the chocolate.
- Chill for a couple of hours before serving.
All images and text © Dina Bayoud Kohl for Dina’s Kitchen