For a birthday cake, step into the Black Forest


Thursday was another birthday for older brother Jay (from ‘Uncle Jake’s Favorite Recipes’ to regular readers), and while MT and I offered to cook dinner on Sunday during his bi-weekly visit to West Hazleton Farm. , he had already planned a meal, but no dessert. So we agreed to bake a birthday cake.

Last year, readers may remember, I made a molasses cake with Lego trees and a lonely Lego minifigure emerging from the forest to find a large footprint, presumably a Sasquatch – an old theme with Jay. This time MT and I threw up a few cake ideas, and for some reason the Black Forest cake came to my mind, something I haven’t made in decades. Jay had included it in his compilation of favorite recipes, so he was sure to like it.

MT remembered seeing pictures of a Black Forest cake and asked if there were any cherries on top, and I said of course, but since it’s a cake “ forest ”, the trees would make sense. No, I didn’t put more Lego trees on this one. I was there, made this and would have ruined the look of this visually appealing dessert while making a mess of the plastic trees.

But I cut a few corners.

The first: I used a boxed cake instead of Jay’s “yellow whipped cream cake” (recipe included below if you want to try it). When I first started baking in the 1970s, boxed cakes had a well-deserved reputation for being dry and jaded, but that’s just not true anymore, and I thought the blending of this cake was enough work. And because of the whipped cream frosting, I whipped and assembled after driving from Wilkes-Barre to West Hazleton.

The second: I did not find a box of sweet black cherries, neither at Schiel’s nor at Wegmans. They had some cherries from all type in canned fruit sections. Jay’s recipe considers this scenario and suggests using a canned cherry pie filling.

A quick web surfing suggested that the cherry scarcity stemmed from factors such as a cold snap for growers and a shortage of workers in both orchards and factories. Whatever the reason, using cherries for pie filling changes several things: the appearance, as they are redder than dark sweet cherries; work, as it eliminates the need to cook syrup but also makes handling and chopping cherries messier; and the flavor because, well, different cherries and a syrup that you have no real control over.

The way you prepare chocolate also changes the appearance, but with no real impact on the flavor. The elegantly curled grated chocolate is a real eye-catcher, but requires softening the chocolate a bit before using a peeler, then cooling the grated chocolate. (The softening of the chocolate is my concern. Microwaving it, even over medium heat with a lot of scrutiny, can still quickly go from too hard to a melted porridge).

I chose to try a grater on the chocolate as is, but it produced mostly powder. MT tried it out with a thrifty and eventually started getting some decent tapes, but still not the loops. If you want the chocolate curly look, I would zap it on very short stretches at a time, checking it every few seconds until it hits the right peelable softness.

A final word on chocolate: the recipe only calls for an ounce. I used almost three ounces to get enough coverage on the sides of the cake.

Bottom line, it was sweet but not cloying and refreshing as the topping, cherries, and whipped cream frosting are all refrigerated before assembly (and kept in the refrigerator after). About two-thirds were gone quickly with just five of us at the table, and MT and my other older brother Ray took the seconds.

When I told Jay I was baking a Black Forest cake he said that thought arose his head too. Well, as I have often pointed out on such occasions:

Great minds think alike …

And then there is us.

Dobrou Hush!

Black Forest (Uncle Jake’s Favorite Recipes)

Yellow cake baked in two 8 inch rounds (use boxed cake or try recipe at end).


1 pound of black cherries

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of cognac flavoring


1 cup chilled heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 ounce of sweet baking chocolate (grated or grated)

Drain the cherries and reserve the syrup. Add water to the syrup to make 1 cup.

Combine the cornstarch and sugar in a small saucepan and stir in the syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 1 minute. Leave to cool to lukewarm and add the aroma of cognac.

Dip 36 cherries in the syrup and set aside. Cut the remaining cherries into quarters and mix them in the syrup. Cool well.

Note: these cherries have become hard to find. You can use a cherry pie filling. Separate the cherries from the jelly, save 36 for the top, chop the rest and mix again in the syrup. Skip cooking.

Make sure everything is fresh, even refrigerated, before assembly

Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until it is very firm. Place a layer of cake upside down on a plate. Form a thin ring of frosting around the edge and spread the filling in the center.

Place the second layer on top and frost all around. Arrange the coated cherries on top. Gently press the chocolate down the sides.

Keep refrigerated.

If you want a cake from scratch, this is Jay’s Yellow whipped cream cake Recipe:

1 ½ cup heavy cream, 3 eggs, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla, 2 ¼ cup cake flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 ½ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon salt

Heat the oven to 350 °. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Whip cream until firm in a large bowl. Beat eggs in a separate bowl until thick. Mix the eggs in the cream, add the vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and fold into the cream mixture. Pour into molds and bake for 30-35 minutes.

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