First stop: Schwarzwälder Kirsch

This classic cake originates from the Black Forest of Germany (or somewhere in Switzerland). It combines chocolate and cherries in one of the most mouth-watering ways possible: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. The idea to make it came from my grandma who needed cakes to share on her birthday. After some research it ended up being one of the most successful cakes I've ever made.

It's chocolate, it's cherries and a whole lot of whipped cream. Also, it should include some alcohol named Kirschwasser, but assuming you don't have this either, we'll just skip the most essential part of Schwarzwälder Kirsch.

Chocolate cake
Yields one 26 cm/10 inch cake - from Cakes & Cake Decorating

115 grams butter
115 grams flour
50 grams cacao powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 eggs
200 grams sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Melt the butter over low heat. You can leave it to melt while you continue the next steps, just remember to turn the heat off as soon as the butter has melted.
2. Sift the flour, cacao and baking powder together three times. Set aside.
3. Whisk the eggs with the sugar until thick. *
4. Add the vanilla and whisk until incorporated.
5. Add the dry ingredients in a few batches and fold carefully into the egg-fluff.
6. Lastly, fold in the butter.
7. Bake for around 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven of 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

* I have to add a note on this step. The original recipe specifies the eggs and sugar to be beaten over a pan with hot water. I tried this and my eggs failed to become fluffy even after 10 minutes, so I took them off the hot water, whisked them until thick and put them back on again for a few minutes. If you're unfamiliar with the process of whisking eggs above hot water, I suggest scratching the heat as well. From what I've seen this technique is only used to melt the sugar anyway and doesn't affect the fluffiness or recipe significantly.

Whipped cream

1 package (7 grams) vanilla sugar
500 ml whipping cream
2-6 spoons sugar
1-2 spoons agar-agar or gelatin powder (optional)

1. If you're planning on keeping the cake for at least 2 days and outside the fridge, or outside the fridge on a very hot summer, then use the gelatin or agar-agar. You can skip this step otherwise. Add 1 spoon hot water to the agar-agar or gelatin powder and set aside.
2. Whip the cream with a mixer until almost stiff, preferably on low speed.
3. Add the sugars and agar-agar/gelatin and whip until the cream is just stiff and peaks will stay in place. Don't over-beat or the whipping cream will form lumps and eventually turn to butter! If this does happen, you can add more cream and whisk again.

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest cake)
Yields one 26 cm/10 inch cake

1 chocolate cake
Whipping cream
2 cans Cherry pie filling (430 grams each)
Chocolate shavings (about 1 chocolate bar)
Additional cherries for decoration

1. Cut the cake in 3 layers. If you choose more or less layers, you will have to adjust the other ingredients accordingly!
Optional: sprinkle the layers with Kirschwasser or cherryjuice for the original Schwarzwalder Kirsch feel!
2. Place the bottom cake layer on a cake board or plate. Fill a pastry bag with the whipped cream and create a circle of whipped cream around the edge of the cake. This will form a barrier to prevent the cherry filling from spilling out.
3. Now add the cherry filling!
4. Put the second layer of chocolate cake on top and repeat steps 2 and 3.
5. Place the last layer of chocolate cake on top and cover the whole cake in whipped cream.
6. Pipe whipped cream roses onto the cake, before you start adding the chocolate savings to the middle and the sides of the cake. (I went wrong here and my cream roses actually fell off the cake when I tilted the slices.)

And there you have it! So much post for just one recipe. Do keep it mind that this is my version of a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Considering I didn't use Kirschwasser, used an American (non-sponge) version of a chocolate cake and filled and decorated in a way I thought looked like a Black Forest cake, yes, it might not be anything like the original. But it's like the German classic is a bit closer to home now.
A lot of thanks to my grandma who gave me the opportunity to make this cake for her birthday! I would never have thought of it otherwise.