The most stressful thing about baking for a blog is trying to make everything look pretty.
I mean, I always want the end product to look pretty, but I don’t want to have to worry about how the shine of the cherries look in the sunlight and how many crumbs are on my white plate.
Everything takes longer when you’re worried about what angle the whisk is sitting at in your bowl.
But I do it. I do it for your guys.
But sometimes, you can’t even get the final beauty shot.
Exhibit A, above.
Everything was going so well up until that point. I knew I was going to get a lot of photos, a lot of lovely progress shots, because layer cakes (which black forest cakes are indeed) have a lot of intermediate steps with clear changes.
And it has a lot of lovely visual contrast, of light on dark:
And vibrant, happy cherry red on white:
Man, it’s hard to make glossy gooey cherries NOT look good.
But the other thing about layer cakes, specifically ones with ooey gooey gorgeous cherry layers, is that their internal structure can sometimes… deteriorate with time.
Not really fall apart or anything or anything that drastic (if your layer cakes are deteriorating to the point of falling apart, you need a new cake layer recipe as that crumb is not strong enough to handle such a structure!), but ooey gooey fruit fillings can sometimes have this aggressive way of soaking into everything.
Which is absolutely wonderful and desired because it makes the layers moist and keeps them that way for much longer.
The downside to this is as time passes, when you cut through these layers, they all sort of… squish and become one.
It actually takes time to get this way, but I couldn’t get my beauty shot any earlier than I did. See, this was a birthday cake for my Father-in-law, made on a Friday and served on a Sunday and photographed on the following Monday evening.
I mean, I could take photos of the outside on Friday (see above), but no person in their right mind cuts into a birthday cake before the birthday boy sees it! And I wasn’t going to take awkward “place the cake here for perfect sunlight” photos of the cake at my in-laws house.
So that left Monday evening, right after work, approximately 72 hours after it had been made and 24 hours after it had already been initially cut. I finally was able to take this photo right before the sun went down..
I mean, I think it still looks delicious, but it’s not exactly that.. Pinterest-worthy shot.
But as much as I love this blog, I don’t bake just to make posts. I bake for sugar in my tummy and smiles on the faces of the people I love.
There’s lots of different ways for something to be “pretty”.
Black Forest Cake
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
- 2 (20 oz.) cans pitted sour cherries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cherry Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup drained liquid from canned cherries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon grenadine (optional)
- 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch, round, cake pans; cover bottoms with waxed paper.
- Filling: Drain cherries, reserving 1 cup juice, divided. Combine 1/2 cup of reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Put aside to cool completely.
- Syrup: Combine remaining 1/2 cup of reserved juice, 1/2 cup sugar and grenadine (if using) in a small sauce pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until thickened. Let cool completely.
- Cake: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center.
- Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla into well; blend from inside out until fully combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
- Whipped cream: While the cakes are cooling, combine whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in a chilled medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Assembly: With long serrated knife, trim the domes off each cake to level, saving the trimmed cake. Crumble trimmings into a bowl; set aside. Split each cake layer horizontally in half.
- Reserve 1 1/2 cups whipped cream for decorating cake in a piping bag fitted with a star decorator tip; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands. Place one cake layer on cake plate. Brush with cherry syrup. Spread evenly with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Repeat with layers two and three. Brush cut side of fourth layer with syrup then place layer, syrup side down, on the cake.
- Frost sides of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake. Using prepared pastry bag, pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.