Monday, December 5, 2011

Black Forest Cake

A mistake isn’t a mistake unless you fail to learn something from it. When I cut myself with a steakknife, I learned that:
  • steak knives are really sharp and shouldn’t be used to pit avocados, ever
  • I might as well go to ER to get my finger stitched up since healthcare is free in Canada
  • if I ask really nicely and show her the cut on my finger, the receptionist will change the TV channel to Food Network
  • some people scream and thrash attempt to run away at the sight of surgical needles

Really, life is just a learning experience. At least now I know what to do if I injure myself again.

 I injured myself again.

This time, it wasn’t with a steak knife and it wasn’t because I was trying to pit an avocado. This time, I wasn’t even in a kitchen. This time, I was holding a pair of scissors. 

That’s right: I cut myself with scissors. In all my years of school and arts and crafts, I have never, ever, not once cut myself with scissors. Until last weekend, anyways. As a child, I scoffed at the kid-safe plastic scissors meant for paper only. I figured that no one was dumb enough to put his or her finger in between the blades and cut. 

It was an accident, of course. It’s always an accident. I was at the mall volunteering my time to gift-wrap boxes for charity. It was the last week of November and the Christmas panic hadn’t set in yet, so we’d only had about five customers. In between the five elusive customers (and the hordes of people asking us where the Urban Eatery was located—it was slightly annoying to repeat the same response every two minutes, but without those people, we would have been very lonely), I was folding boxes, cranes, and stars out of the leftover wrapping paper. I was also teaching Kevin, the only other volunteer who was my age, how to fold stars out of strips of paper.

So while Kevin was folding paper stars, I made an origami box. I’d taped one part incorrectly, so I grabbed the scissors to cut it. One snip and I ended up cutting through a good chunk of the flesh on my finger as well. The pain was instantaneous, but I didn’t feel the panic set in like the last time I’d cut myself with the knife. Instead, a peculiar kind of feeling washed over me as I stared the fat droplet of blood ooze out of the cut. It was like time had slowed down and that what I was watching had already happened. I briefly wondered if this was like pricking your finger for blood to check sugar levels.

I inspected the cut. It didn’t look too deep, though it was hard to tell with the blood. Calmly, I informed the supervisor that I needed a band-aid and she walked me to guest services (where people really should be going for info if they want to know where the new food court is located). She wiped off the blood with an alcohol wipe and that was that. I got through the rest of my shift, thankfully, without another incident.

Now, onto this Black Forest Cake. If it isn’t obvious yet, I’ve been stringing you along, luring you with pictures of cake while digressing about a completely unrelated event which only happened within the same time span of two days. Anyways, I made this cake during my weekly baking lesson at George Brown College. It’s surprisingly moist and doesn’t taste of injury or scissor-cuts. 

Click below for the recipe.

Black Forest Cake

Adapted from: George Brown Baking Arts Manual
Yield: 8-inch cake

  • 235 grams sugar
  • 80 grams butter or shortening
  • 2.5 grams salt
  • 160 grams water
  • 5 grams vanilla
  • 160 grams pastry flour
  • 45 grams cocoa powder
  • 20 grams whole milk powder
  • 5 grams baking powder
  • 2.5 grams baking soda
  • 125 grams eggs (2-3 large eggs)
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon gelatine
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
Simple Syrup:
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch
  • 250 grams cherry pie filling
  • 8 maraschino cherries
  • chocolate shavings
  • melted chocolate, for drizzling


For the cake, preheat the oven to 375F. Butter and flour 2 8-inch round cake pans.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar, butter, and salt together. Scrape the bowl

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, milk powder, and baking powder, baking soda together. Whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter-sugar mixture. While mixing, add the water in a steady stream. Beat on medium speed for five minutes. Scrape the bowl.

Add the eggs one by one, mixing well in between additions. Scrape the bowl. Be careful not to over-mix after the eggs are added. Divide the cake batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 20 minutes in the pan and then turn them out and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

For the cream, in a large bowl, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla to medium peaks. In a small bowl, stir the water and gelatine together. Microwave for 10 seconds or until the gelatine is dissolved. While beating, add the gelatine mixture to the cream and continue to whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

For the simple syrup, combine the water and sugar together in a saucepan.  Heat until melted. Stir in the kirsch. Allow to cool completely.

To assemble, level the top of the cakes and then slice each one into two layers. Place the first layer on the turntable and spread a thin layer of cream on top. Pipe a ring of cream around the edge of the cake to dam the cherry filling. Spread a third of the cherry filling evenly and top with a layer of cake. Soak the cake layer with the syrup. Repeat with all cake layers.

Using an angled spatula, mask the cake with the cream. A pastry comb can be used to decorate the sides. Place chocolate shavings on the bottom half of the cake sides. Pipe a shell border using a star tip. Mentally divide the cake into eight pieces and pipe a rosette on the top outer edge of each piece. Place a maraschino cherry on each rosette. Cover the center of the cake with chocolate shavings and garnish with a drizzle of melted chocolate. Serve.


  1. That's a beautiful cake - I feel like I earned all the gawking at the photos after reading your horrific injury stories :D I cut myself once back when I was a kid. I was cutting some stuff in the garden to build a den and cut right into the bottom of my palm. I could see a white thing underneath (maybe it was the bone??) and after a while blood started gushing everywhere... I tried to hide it from my parents... thought they'd give me a scolding :D They didn't, as it turns out.

  2. Ooof, glad you are ok from your injuries. I am one of those who is ultra-squeamish around blood but I toughed it out because I had to find out about this GORGEOUS cake! It is absolutely divine and the filling sounds delicious!

  3. i remember the first time i made a black forest cake. I skimped through it and ended with a failure... your post has given me the push to get my hands on another try for a black forest cake.

  4. OMG, kyleen, that is the most beautiful black forest cake I've ever seen! You've got some serious skills, hon! :)

  5. OUCH!!! That sounds absolutely painful, Kyleen!!! But you're such a strong girl for getting the job done no matter what. I still can't believe that at your age you're already giving weekly baking lessons at school. Nothing but respect for you, seriously. This is such an elegant cake I hope to try it out one day too. Slowly getting into the baking department more these days and your blog is a perfect source for inspiration -- thanks!

  6. Mmmm what a lovely cake! My mother used to make a black forest cake and it was our family favorite. Every birthday we would ask her to make it!


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