Rustic Black Forest Cake

This is a very tossed-together Black Forest Cake, or, as I like to say when I am too lazy to bring out the piping bag and tips, it's "rustic." It has all the components of the classic German torte, but without the fuss. Layers of dark chocolate cake are sandwiched with fresh whipped cream and sweet cherries spiked with kirschwasser ("cherry water," or clear sour cherry brandy). These flavors are among the most celebrated combinations in the history of pastry making — and for good reason. This swoon-worthy homemade version of the cake is super-fast and easy to put together.

Rustic Black Forest Cake Recipe (aka Cherry Chocolate Cake)

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes (includes cooling times)
Skill: Easy
Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake
Unsalted butter, for greasing
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder (it doesn't seem to make a difference if you use natural or Dutch process), sift if lumpy

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 egg white
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot coffee
1/4 cup rum or brandy (if you opt out of the booze, use more coffee)

Cherry Filling and Topping

3 cups fresh or frozen sweet dark cherries, pitted (if you are using fresh cherries, add 1/4 cup water)

2 tablespoons kirschwasser or brandy
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Whipped Cream
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and butter.

Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl and whisk until combined, set aside. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the hot coffee and rum to the batter and whisk until totally blended and smooth, about 2 minutes. The batter will be quite runny.

Divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes or until set when tested with a toothpick. Cool completely.

Place the cherries and kirsch in a saucepot. Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, then add to the cherries.

Add the sugar mixture to the cherries and cook over low heat until the cherries come to a boil and the liquid thickens and is transparent, about 10 minutes. If you are using fresh cherries, you will want to cook them until the fruit is slightly tender.

Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.

To assemble the cake: Whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks.

Place one layer of the cake on a serving platter.

Spread half of the whipped cream over the top.

Distribute half the cherries over the cream.

Repeat with the next layers of cake, cream and cherries.

Serve the cake immediately or place it in the refrigerator.

Zoë François, author of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day  and Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in 5 Minutes a Day , studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She now calls Minneapolis her home, where she has worked with some of the top talent in the culinary world — Steven Brown, Andrew Zimmern and many chefs at the D’Amico company. In addition to writing, Zoë teaches baking classes and consults at restaurants. You can find her writing and recipe creations on Devour, on her baking blog, zoebakes.com, and on the site www.breadin5.com.

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