Black forest cake

Happy New Year, 2020!

We start a new year, a new page in our life that I wish it would be better than any year before for everyone.
A new fresh year can only start with a remarkable cake. The Black Forest remembers me of the mountains from where the beautiful Danube springs. Danube remembers me of childhood, the big river that I used to cross over with a boat every summer to go to the seaside.
This is by far the tallest cake I ever made. Seven layers of sponge cake, cream and sour cherries. Chocolate decorations, topping with drops... it is also the most complex cake I made so far. Also very time consuming, I made it in stages in 3 days. But I do not regret any minute I spent for it. I learnt a lot. I did mistakes, sometimes I had to restart but finally I succeeded. The result was very satisfying but the road to it was much more accomplishing.
To start, the sponge cake was a success from the start. I wanted a small cake but tall. I had a 15cm pan and I filled it full. It raised higher in the oven and I managed to cut 7 layers from it. The recipe and instructions I used for it (see bellow) were very good with no surprise. While baking it I was nervous if it was not too small or not too high enough. Later, after putting the filling I was afraid to not be too high.
The first filling step was simple. Just whipping cream. No extra sugar. With sour cherries inside.
I made the sponge cake the evening before and the layered cake the next one. After constructing the cake, I left it in the fridge for the night. Whipping cream is very tricky as its structure is not that stable. For a tall cake, to insure that the next day I won't see a Pisa tower in my fridge I put a stainless steel straw just in the middle of the cake, that I removed before the final topping decoration.
The most challenging part was to make the decoration. I had in mind a splash. I tried as others with a balloon and it popped from the warm chocolate. The chocolate was all over the place, including my pull and trousers. Balloon was not an option then. I looked for a normal ball in my children toys. The size of a stress ball or a bit bigger. But how I was to remove the chocolate after? I used some film that I stretched very well over the ball. First try was a failure, too much chocolate and the drips were not visible. Second time, with less chocolate, ended up perfectly. Easy to remove from the ball and from the film after hardening.  With trees, was just a play... I had some left over chocolate from the splash and I wanted to draw something with it. Just perfect from the first try.
The next day, was the decoration day. First, I was not sure how the cream will hold to cover the cake on the side. I used the trick to put some mascarpone in it and worked great. It was just a bit difficult to pipe it out but it was a piece of cake to smooth it.
Second, and the most scaring part was the dripping. I was wondering about a lot of things: would the consistency of the topping be good to do the drops? would the cream melt while pouring the chocolate? Well, everything turned out to be just perfect. When the dripping stage was over, I felt confident to have a nice cake.
Now, once the photo was done, I cannot wait to cut it when the New Year has arrived.


Sponge Cake:

  • 5 eggs
  • 100g sugar
  • 95g all purpose flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 750g whipping cream
  • 500g sour cherries 
  • 250ml sour cherry juice. I used the ones of the defrosted cherries as I did a cake suitable for children but for adults use kirsch.
  • 1 tablespoon of rhum essence
Decoration for chocolate trees:
  • 100g melted chocolate
Decoration for the top:
  • 250g whipping cream
  • 50g melted chocolate
  • 140g mascarpone
  • some sour cherries 

  1. Prepare first the sponge cake. 
    1. Preheat the oven at 170ºC.
    2. Start by separating the whites and the yolks.
    3. Beat the whites with a mixer and add the sugar when they are foam.
    4. Add all the yolks and mix just until they are incorporated, that should be max. 30 seconds. Do not overmix as the foam will slowly decrease.
    5. Mix the flour with cocoa powder, vanilla sugar and salt.
    6. Add the dried ingredients in the foamed eggs, one spoon at a time and stir gently with a spatula with up and down movements. Do the minimum movements as possible to conserve the foam but insure that the dried ingredients are well combined. 
    7. Pour the composition into a cake pan that was initially buttered and floured on the bottom. If you prefer, you can use baking paper. I wanted a tall cake so I used a 15cm cake pan. For a more flat one, use a larger pan.
    8. Bake it immediately in the oven at 170ºC for 45 minutes.
    9. Let it cool completely. It can be even stored in the fridge overnight.
    10. Slice the cake horizontally. Put the top slice aside (or eat it just like this) if it has a bump. I ended up with 7 slices of  aproximate 1cm.
  2. For the filling we need a lot of whipping cream. Whisk the cream until well formed. Do not overmix as you turn it into butter.
  3. Prepare the syrup by mixing the sour cherry juice / kirsch with rhum essence.
  4. Now let's pile the cake in the following way:
    1. Put a slice of the sponge cake.
    2. Pour 2 tablespoons of syrup over the sponge cake.
    3. Add a thin layer of whipping cream.
    4. Add the sour cherries cut in half over.
    5. Cover the sour cherries with whipping cream and level well with a spatula.
  5. Continue with another sponge cake layer following the steps above.
  6. Over the last sponge cake only add whipping cream and level it perfectly.
  7. Put it in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.
  8. When the cake is chilled, we continue with the nice layer around the cake. We need a thicker consistency for the frosting to hold, so we need to add mascarpone into the whipping cream
  9. Beat the 250g whipping cream and when almost formed, add the mascarpone.
  10. Put aside 50g of this composition to use for the top decoration.
  11. Using a piping bag, go around the cake and make a 0.5cm layer on the rounded side.
  12. Use a leveling spatula and rotate the cake to obtain a smooth rounded border. Unless you want to go around the cake :), use a rotating stand for the cake.
  13. Put it in the fridge for one hour.
  14. In the meantime prepare the decorations. For the trees, melt the 100g chocolate, put it in a piping bag with a very small whole and draw the trees on a silicone sheet or a paper baking sheet. For the splash on the top, use a stress ball and cover it in film. Drip the chocolate on the top of the ball.
  15. They will go in the fridge for 20 minutes. They also can be prepared in advance.
  16. For the dripping composition, melt 50g chocolate with the remaining 50g of whipped cream.
  17. Put it in a piping bag and go around the top of the cake. Cover the top completely with this chocolate composition.
  18. Finalise the decoration of the cake with sour cherries.

I've got my inspiration from:
Sponge chocolate cake:
Splash tutorial:


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