Black forest cake has been on my baking bucket list for ages. I’ve attempted it several times – and made it as far as the deep chocolaty cake layers – only to find that my jar of cherries had gone missing (i.e., eaten by a forgetful me). This time I bought two extra jars and resolved to just make it already!
My previous attempts always gravitated toward the standard 9-inch round double layer cake covered in whip and chocolate shavings et al. But not this time. I’ll claim the muse led elsewhere, but it could just be my inability to ever make something exactly as it is intended to be made. Either way, what resulted is a rather stately black forest-zuccotoesque (that’s not really a word)-dome cake. It’s mighty good, too!
For the cake layers and dome, you’ll make the same chocolate cake recipe twice. An entire batch of batter gets baked in a bowl (2 quart or larger) and the second batch gets baked into two 9-inch rounds. The rounds get a heaping helping of chopped morello cherries. In most black forest cakes the cherries are left whole, but I chopped them because I wanted this cake to slice beautifully, and I’m happy to report, it does!
The filling is also a bit of departure from tradition. Whipped cream is the usual filling and cake covering, but I used boiled frosting that, to me, resembles a gourmet version of Hostess Twinkie Filling (no kidding!). It is absolutely cloud-like and it holds up better if left standing on a buffet for several hours (as cakes tend to do during our family Christmas gatherings).
I forgot to mention the Kirsch syrup! All the cake layers get a good drenching of Kirschwasser syrup that’s mixed with morello cherry juice. As you can imagine, this makes every bite moist and SO flavorful.
My inspiration for the little chocolate decors comes from the hand-carving on black forest cuckoo clocks. Oak leaves and pine cones are a common motif, and I decided they should be included somewhere on this cake. Ghiradelli recently sent me a few packages of their dark chocolate melting wafers, so I used them in the molds instead of taking pains to temper chocolate. They turned out pretty cute, and they taste good, too!
This cake takes a bit of time to make, and even though I made it in one day, I can’t recommend doing that. It’d be much easier and less stressful to make the cake layers one day, and the fillings/frostings the next. This cake is certainly time consuming, but it’s very much worth the time and effort. It may just be my favorite cake to date!
Black Forest Dome Cake
Yield: 24 servings
Source: Sprinkle Bakes original with cake adapted from Ina Garten.
Prep: 4 hours; total time about 8 hours or up to 24
Stock up on semisweet chocolate before making this recipe. The chocolate frosting uses 1 1/2 lbs., which is more than I’ve ever used in a single frosting recipe, but the end result is a true chocoholic’s dream! I suggest making this cake over the course of two or three days. Chilling the dome cake before filling it is essential, otherwise it will be too soft and break apart under the weight of the whipped filling- so don’t skip that step! Please read the notes at the bottom of this recipe for additional tips.
1 cup/ 242g buttermilk
1/2 cup/ 100g vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups/221g all-purpose flour
2 cups/400g granulated sugar
3/4 cups/ 68g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup/230g freshly brewed hot coffee
For the two 9-inch rounds:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment (or use flour a flour-based baking spray to grease and flour in one step-no parchment needed).
- In a four cup measure, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until flour and cocoa are free of lumps. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Gradually add the hot coffee and mix briefly; scrape down bowl and beat again on low speed. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-45 minutes. Turn them out on a wire rack to let cool completely. Level cakes with a large serrated knife if needed. Wrap layers in plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm, about 2 hours.
For the dome cake
Grease and flour a 2 quart (or larger) heat-proof bowl (preferably stainless steel). Repeat cake batter recipe and mix batter as directed. Pour batter in prepared bowl and bake for 50-60 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed in the center. Turn cake out onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer to firm, about 2-3 hours.
Boiled whipped vanilla filling
1/4 cup/32g flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups/460g whole milk
2 cups/1 lb unsalted butter, softened
2 cups/400g granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together flour and 1/2 cup of milk until smooth. Set over medium heat and let cook for 3 minutes, or until slightly hot. Whisk in remaining milk and salt. Whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and paste-like (almost like pudding). Remove from heat and pour into a separate bowl. Place in the refrigerator until cool. When cool, mixture will be thick like set custard.
- In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one) beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well. Beat in cooled flour mixture one tablespoon at a time on medium-high speed. When all the flour mixture is added, beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Rub a little frosting between your fingers, if sugar granules remain, beat for 4 more minutes, or until granules cannot be detected with fingers. Set aside (do not refrigerate) and prepare cherries and syrup.
Cherry filling and syrup
24 oz. jar morello cherries in light syrup
3 tablespoons kirschwasser liqueur
1/4 cup/50g granulated sugar
6 oz. black cherry jam or jelly
- Drain cherries and reserve 3/4 cup of cherry juice. Chop cherries (I used a food processor) and press through a sieve to remove additional juice created during chopping. Stir cherries together with black cherry jam or jelly. Set aside.
- Combine 3/4 cup cherry juice and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Set over low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove and stir in kirsch liqueur.
Dark chocolate frosting
1/2 cup/46g unsweet cocoa powder
1/2 cup/115g freshly brewed hot coffee
1/4 cup/50g granulated sugar
2 cups/1 lb. unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups/ 1 1/2 lbs. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- Combine cocoa and hot coffee in a small bowl; whisk until smooth and set aside to cool. Beat sugar and butter together in a large bowl using an electric mixer (or stand mixer with whip attachment, preferred). Gradually beat in cooled chocolate; scrape down bowl and beat again. With the mixer on medium-low speed, gradually add cocoa/coffee mixture. Beat until smooth. If frosting is too lax to frost cake, place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, or until just firm enough to spread.
Chocolate oak leaves and pine cones (as explained in blog post)
Powdered sugar for dusting
- Remove cake layers from refrigerator and place a 9-inch round on serveware. Brush liberally with kirsch syrup. Cover with half the chopped cherries. Spread about 3/4 cup of boiled vanilla filling over the cherries. Top with second 9-inch cake layer; brush liberally with kirsch syrup, cover with remaining cherries and spread about 3/4 boiled filling over the cherries. Remove bowl cake from the freezer and place it flat-side-up on a plate (or place it back in the bowl it was baked in). Remove the center of the cake using a serrated knife and reserve -note: try to remove it in one piece with flat portion in tact. Place 3/4 of the remaining frosting into the center. Use a serrated knife to cut off the flat end of the reserved cake piece, this creates a cover for the filled center. Place it onto the frosting-filled center and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Turn chilled dome cake over onto the stacked and filled 9-inch rounds. Brush dome layer liberally with kirsch syrup. Use additional boiled frosting to fill in any gaps around the stacked cakes. Generously frost the entire cake with the dark chocolate frosting (there’s a lot of frosting, but keep piling it on – it helps give the cake its round shape!). Place chocolate pieces around the bottom edge of the cake. Dust entire cake with powdered sugar. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or until chocolate frosting is set. Bring cake to room temperature before serving. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.
Notes about this cake
- Some people have experienced trouble with the boiled filling in a previous recipe I developed. It’s usually because the flour and milk mixture wasn’t cooked long enough on the stove-top. Make sure to cook it until it is thick like pudding, and cool it completely until it has the consistency of set custard.
- The boiled frosting may be replaced with 3 cups heavy whipping cream beaten with 3/4 cup of granulated sugar. It won’t hold up as well if left sitting out on a buffet for hours, so you’ll have to store the cake in the refrigerator at all times,
- This is a rather large cake – the equivalent of two double layer cakes! I serves up to 24 people, so don’t guffaw at the amount of butter, sugar and chocolate – remember, one person is not eating the whole cake, just one (maybe two?) slices. Calorie counters – look away.
- It’s okay to use semisweet chips in the dark chocolate frosting – I did. Just make sure it’s a brand that contains some amount of cocoa butter in the ingredients. Of course, high quality chocolate is preferred.
- Morello cherries in light syrup can be found at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have one in your town, grocery stores usually stock “dark pitted cherries in syrup” – buy two 12 oz. cans of those – they’ll work fine.