Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Of Black Forest Cake and A Kitchen Mishap

I ended my last post saying I would return in a week. It actually took me an additional 4 days to come back to my senses.  Laziness post vacation recovery got the best of me. A week out of town, part of it spent in visiting the most celebrated mouse in the world, led to my slower than a slug state of affairs.
My hands were unwilling to type, my brain unable to comprehend. Did I mention returning to a region where sun scorching is a way of life and any thinking capability possessed by me, had fried into irretrievable oblivion (almost)?

Of course, I can't proceed to bore you with my gazillion- things- that- await- after- vacation speech. Through all this, I knew I was beckoned back to my recipe drafting and picture taking and any new blogger challenges and conquests that came my way.

To top it off, we celebrated JZ's birthday during our excursion, a home party pending to when we returned.

This is and has been a fact of life for me, that even before I really knew anything about baking, I could never, let my better half's birthday go unnoticed without a homemade, wowing piece of cake, fashioned by me, his other half. Not ever.

I wanted to make a beauteous stacked stunner for him this year.

That didn't happen.

My ambitious plan was derailed, hugely due to my busied mind. I mixed and baked. I sliced, soaked, whipped and frosted, all in one day. Then, oversight supervened when my gorgeous assembled cake was left by yours truly on the cliff edge of a very crowded refrigerator.

Any guesses to what transpired next? Sadly enough, the tiered rounds took a free fall. Once the door was opened, layer after layer of JZ's cake plummeted to smithereened fate. Almost. After witnessing the first fall, fortunately, synchronized hand action from me and my two kid wonders prevented the last 3 layers from also kissing ground. I cried, dried my tears and thanked Jesus. My kids were crestfallen, which forced me to conquer my blubbering uncomposed emotions and charge forward in rehabilitating our fragmented chocolate, now partly creamed lump of cake.

And so, Indiana Jones style, we set to save Appa's Cake. The three of us glued the remainder of baked mass and cemented it together with rustic- to the point of boorishly ugly- chocolate slabs, creating JZ's new and (un)improved birthday cake. A sorry situation? Maybe. But passing over any cake odds and forging on ahead helped us in creating one of the best cakes in my baking history. Drenched in flavor packed syrup and reconstructed with not a stifling amount of cream, the flavors of chocolate and cherries stood outstandingly front and center in this super phenomenal black forest cake.
(Adapted from Allrecipes Black Forest Cake)
  • 2 1/8 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • ¾ c cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • ½ c vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour two 9 inch, round, cake pans; cover bottoms with waxed paper.
  • In bowl of stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, and the rest of the dry ingredients.
  • Add in wet ingredients ; beat on medium speed until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, or when toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans for 15 minutes. Loosen edges carefully and remove from pans. Cool on wire racks completely.
Soaking syrup~
  • ½ c water
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 1 tbsp maraschino cherry syrup (from the jar)
  • *1 tbsp rum
  • In a saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from pan, add in cherry syrup and rum. Let cool slightly.
Whipped cream~
  • 2½ c heavy cream
  • ¼ c confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbsp cherry syrup + 1 tbsp rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Using a stand mixer, whip cream and sugar on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 3-4 minutes.
  • With the mixer on, set to a slower speed,add in all liquids and beat for an additional minute.
Cherry Layer~
  • 1 ½ c from a combination of fresh cherries and maraschino cherries or canned cherries.
  • 1 c grated chocolate , chocolate curls or 1½ cups chocolate chips, melted/ hardened to create shards or various shapes.
This is the mess that was salvaged, needless to say there was much crying and wailing.

My flattened, muddled up heap, albeit hideous, was mindblowingly good.
Assembly (in perfect circumstances)~
  • Trim the cakes to level off the tops and cut each cake horizontally in half to make 4 even layers.
  • Poke holes using a skewer or fork in 5 or 6 places on top of each round.
  • Place one of the layers on a serving plate and either sprinkle soaking syrup over the top of the cake or brush generously, be sure to cover the edges.
  • Spread about a cup of the whipped cream over the layer. Scatter with one third of the cherries.
  • Top with another layer  and repeat soak and layer process.
  • Top with last cake layer, cut side down. Soak with remaining syrup and top sides and top with whipped cream.
  • Garnish with chocolate curls, grated chocolate or chocolate shards.

If you wish not to use alcohol, substitute with rum extract, cherry juice or more maraschino cherry syrup.

Despite, the unfortunate predicament, JZ was thoroughly impressed. The kids were elated. As for me, a refreshing lesson was learned, never think smack about so called kitchen catastrophes. Had I dumped this galactic mishap into the garbage, we would not have encountered our uniquely gratifying, ridiculously moist, tiered cake remodel.  

While I type the last few words, I see the fridge opening and hands rummaging for any remaining scraps.

Finally, I hope this tale encourages all my home cook buddies out there. I don't think the end here would have had the same spontaneous and victorious result had I slaved over a brand new cake. Remember, mindset matters, so when calamity happens, cry a little and then rise up - knowing that only you can beat the situation, wallop all odds, and prize your rightful place as undefeatable queen/ king of the kitchen, and perhaps your life as well (better to conclude now, before I end up sappy philosophical :)). 

Aesthetically, the cake was not a beauty, but never underestimate the beguiling character of the beast, who winsomely gains not only beauty, but also all praise in the end.


"We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties." Oswald Chambers


  1. The looks doesn't matter much when it comes to tastes..Sure the cake would be the best baked one..Looks fabulous even after the diasater,yummy my favorite cake too!!
    Welcome back,looks u had a great time in mousse world:-)

    1. Thanks so much Julie. The whole ordeal was a distress, but in the end I'm glad I persisted, was well worth it. Glad to be back, thanks for the welcome. Missed all of you, my bloggie buddies :))

  2. It still looks gorgeous with those chocolate pieces around it! :) And I bet it tasted amazing!

    1. Thanks Jessica, yes the chocolate does seem to hide the hot mess inside. And it does taste amazing despite the all the travails it went through :))

  3. You're too hard on yourself. The cake still looks good and I bet it was tasty. The kids tell it all :D

  4. Thanks so much Ellen, yes the kids do tell it all :-D

  5. the Cake looks beautiful with those cherries and colorful streamers (what are they made of)!

  6. Thanks Leena- you are too sweet. Those "streamers" are candles, to light for the birthday boy :))

  7. My friend, I would not have guessed of any disaster unless you had told me! This cake still looks drool worthy and I love your attitude :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Thanks Uru, kind words indeed. I love your attitude-always, always inspirational and fun :))

  8. the cake looks beautiful.. if this was after the mishap, how gorgeous the original must've been.. seriously it looks nice and must've tasted great too... hope you had a great vacation
    Noel collections

    1. Oh Reshmi, I didn't think it would turn out anything remotely close to presentable and I was too fatigued to make another one, this was it. Thanks much, buddy!

  9. that is a beautiful cake despite that fall!!! i can imagine how sad u felt... sometimes i get upset when small things wrong and ur sons bday cake crumbling in front of u .. oh no... anyways glad that u could disguise the dissaster so beautifully.. good job done.. all is well that ends well...:)
    Renu's foodigest is now "Its My spice"

    1. Thanks Renu, yes, it's a sad state when something you toil over and expect to turn out perfect goes badly wrong;-( Though I'm glad we saved it. Grateful for all the encouragement, I have some great friends in bloggerworld. BTW, love the new name, "It's My Spice"

  10. wow.. beautiful looking black forest cake...

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!