After a couple of weeks of everyone being sick, even me, and the husband away in the US for a speciality coffee thing, there hasn’t been a huge amount of baking done. I even missed my week to bake at our company bake-off which I was quite disappointed about.
This weekend, however, we were all fighting fit (well nearly anyway) so headed to the in-laws in Waterford for the weekend. My brother -in-law follows/stalks me on twitter and always comments on the cakes he never gets to eat because he lives 100 miles away and is never around at baking time. This weekend I promised I would bake him a cake.
After a significant number of years (double digits) with my husband, I dont think I have ever done much in the kitchen in Waterford, except make a baby bottle or heat some food for the kids. Therefore baking was going to be a challenge since I was not sure where anything was kept and I didn’t think it was really acceptable to make as big a mess as I do at home in someone else’s kitchen.
I flicked through some cookery books lying around the house looking for inspiration. I wanted to make something nice, that would be easy enough but still with a little bit of wow factor. After a few minutes I came across a fairly simple Black Forest Gateau recipe and thought why not?
Now, I adore Black Forest! It is my all time favourite cake. When I go out for cake or dessert, it is the first thing I look for on the menu. And before you ask, yes I did say at the start I was making it for someone else but I was hardly going to make something I wouldn’t eat. I got himself to drive me to the supermarket a whole 500m away for the momentous event of buying my first bottle of cherry brandy. I only needed 100ml but was forced to buy a 700ml bottle - Aoife is planning ways for me to use up the rest.
I had lofty ideas of fresh cherries but this is Ireland and April (just about) so it didnt happen. In hindsight, the idea of de-stoning approximately 1kg of cherries is not something I generally have the patience for. So armed with my bottle of cherry brandy and tins of cherries I set off back to the house to get going.
The recipe required 100ml of cherry brandy, 900g cherries and 3tbsp caster sugar in a pot and simmered over a medium heat for 5 minutes. This leaves you with a beautiful, deep red syrup and makes the cherries sweet and soft.
Adding 4 eggs to 160g caster sugar in a heatproof bowl, whisk over a pot of simmering water until thick and creamy. Once done, GENTLY fold in 100g plain flour, 50g of cocoa powder and 0.5tsp baking powder to the egg mix. Yes I did shout ‘gently’ because I didn’t do it gently! Going back to being in an alien kitchen, I couldn’t find a sieve to sift the flour and cocoa powder so I just threw it in, the cocoa powder made clumps and I then had to bash the mix to get rid of the lumps and lost all the air from my eggs. In addition to not finding a sieve, I had miscalculated the pot to bowl ratio with what I had available. Therefore the recipe said 6 minutes for thick and creamy eggs however it took me at least 26 minutes because I basically had a fruit bowl on top of a milk pan! Funny story in years to come!
Put your GENTLY folded mixture into a greased 23cm tin and the recipe says put it in a 180°C oven for 40 minutes. As I was using a fan oven, I reduced the temperature to 160°C. After about 2o minutes I could smell the cake from the living room and it had the scent of being done! I opened the oven to find my cake thoroughly cooked and hardly risen at all. This why I stress the GENTLE folding.
I hadn’t time to start from scratch so decided with enough cream it should still be edible. After cooling, I cut the cake in half horizontally and poured the cherry syrup made earlier over the two halves and let it soak in. I whipped up ALOT of double cream (1 litre) and layered on top of one half of the cake. I then topped this with the brandy soaked cherries (saving a few for decoration) and but on some more cream and sandwiched on the top half of the cake.
Another layer of cream, some carefully placed cherries for decoration and a smackerel of grated dark chocolate and I was done.
I must admit that despite the sponge ‘disaster’ is tasted good! It lacked the texture of the light melt in your mouth sponge you would hope for but it had all the rich flavour you expect from a Black Forest Gateau.
And who could argue with this critic…..
Next time I will attempt the Heston one!