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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Last Bite

A Black forest German Gateau Cake ‘Schwarzwälder Kirsch torte’with Cherries from Kashmir, Baked in Bengal

This was his last bite. My Father, he tasted the little portion of the black forest cake that I cut for him n served him on a tea saucer. Back at that moment I had no idea that this was going to be the last thing he will eat, made by me. So for me this is his last bite of any food cooked by me and it is special in that way but it will always have sadness n gloom attached with this memory. Now that my Father has left his body, I run the pictures in my mind of the moment when he looked at the piece of cake in the little saucer, cut into it n very carefully, with a little shaky hand he transferred into his mouth, so that it doesn't fall off the spoon. I was looking for any signs of expression on his face and I find a little sign of satisfaction as he went through the cake. I am just re-running that subtle expression of Dad in my mind.

                            I wanted to do this black forest gateau cake for a long time, sometimes the doubt of eating so much whipped cream halted me, sometimes the doubt of whipping up huge volume of cream by hand made me pause, and sometimes I didn't get the cherries. But then with love that stayed on n upon consistent demand from my cute nephew, I did whip up large volume of cream by hand, whip up eggs with sugar till I reached the ribbon stage, pitted the cherries all by hand n I bake the cake!

                                                     The black forest cake or gateau has its origin in Germany, though the name doesn't come from the Black Forest mountain range in south-western Germany, rather it comes from a special liquor of that region called ‘Schwarzwälder Kirsch(wasser)’ n it is distilled from tart cherries. The liquor has a distinctive cherry pit flavor and alcoholic in nature that gives the cake its distinctive smell n flavor. So ‘Kirsch’ is what makes it special although other liquors are also used such as rum, which is used in Austria and co-incidentally which I also used, red rum.

                                                                                             Making the chocolate sponge for this cake requires a bit of whipping, first eggs n sugar r heated in a water bath until warm while constantly whisking, when the temperature is achieved the mixture is removed from heat and then further whisked until the mixture fluffs up and becomes almost triple in volume. When the whisk is lifted we can see ribbons falling off from the whisk and a figure of 8 made the ribbon stays for a second to be visible. No baking powder is used for this cake and the light volume is achieved by incorporating air in the egg n sugar mixture.

                                                                                                                The touch of Kirsch or rum gives the cake it’s special touch, but then you can always skip it if you want to, in my case my nephew kept away all the cherries from his piece! He likes the black forest cake without the cherries!

I have to tell you this, if you want to eat this cake tomorrow you have to begin today, the cake needs rest for several hours after baking, preferably overnight, also the cherries in soup which is treated with cornflour, need overnight time in the freeze to set, so keep that in mind.

                     So I guess it is now time to tell you about the recipe, here we go to have a walk in the Black forest cake.

For The Recipe: You will need

For the Chocolate Sponge:
Powdered Sugar- 200gm (I used 180gm)
Coco powdered- 45gm
Plain Flour- 90gm
Butter, melted n kept warm-60gm
Salt-1/4 tsp, skip if butter is salted

For the Cherry layer:
Cherries-350gm, pitted and separated from the syrup
Syrup in which the cherries were preserved-1 cup
Lime Zest-1/2 tsp, roasted, dried out then whizzed with sugar
Cinnamon- ½-1/4 tsp, roasted slightly n powdered
Cornflour-1-1 ½ tbsp
Sugar-1 tbsp+1 tbsp (optional)

For the Whipping Cream:
Whipping cream/double cream-500ml
Fine powdered sugar-4 tbsp
Vanilla essence- 1 tbsp

For the Rum syrup:
Red rum- 3 tbsp
Suagr-2 tbsp
Syrup from the cherries-4 tbsp

For the Chocolate Layer n Chocolate shavings:
Dark chocolate-50-80 gm

Save a few whole cherries for decorating the cake.

1. We will begin by making the cake which will need to rest overnight. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius n butter one 8 inch cake tin. So begin by cracking the eggs in a big airy bowl n add the powdered sugar on them. Prepare a water bath or bain-marie, as the water comes to simmer, place the bowl with egg n sugar on top of it making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk continuously as the mixture warms up, test it by placing a little of the mixture with your finger on your inner wrist, it will take 3-5 minutes to get warm, on your wrist it should feel comfortably warm, not something that is beginning to get intolerable for skin. So when the mixture feels warm enough remove it from the water bath and now either with hand whisk or electric whisk or stand whisk, whisk it until the mixture fluffs up becoming almost triple in volume. If you are whisking by hand it will take about 20 minutes, otherwise it will take about 5-8 minutes, when you will lift the whisk it will fall off smoothly making ribbons on the surface, if you try to do a figure of 8 you will be able to see the figure 8 for a moment before it vanishes, when you can do that you are at the right consistency.

2. Now sift the coco powder n flour alternatively in 3 stages and gently fold in with a spatula, first sift one-third coco powder, then one-third plain flour in 3 stages, until the flour n coco powder has been incorporated. For folding rotate the bowl while you lift up the mixture gently with the spatula and fold in slowly, keep rotating the bowl as you do so. After that add the warm melted butter and gently fold in again. Then carefully place the batter gently into the buttered cake tin which is layered at the bottom with perchment paper, then smooth the surface with a spoon or scraper. Then give one tap on the table before you place the cake tin in the oven, bake for about 20 -25 minutes, when a toothpick inserted comes out clean and you will see the cake will start to shrink from the sides. Then take the cake out of the oven, rest 10 minutes, take it out of the cake tin and place on a wired rack to cool overnight.

3. Now well prepare for the cherry syrup. Take a lime, with a sharp knife cut the peel lightly so that you don’t get the white part under the peel, when you have taken off the zest of the whole lime like that, put them in a baking tray and in a very low oven of around 100 degrees Celsius roast them but keep the oven door slightly open, give them about 5-10 minutes, shake the tray in between until they get brown but not burnt. When this is achieved take them out and cool them and they will crisp up, after that in a mortar n pestle powder them with 1 tbsp of sugar, keep aside.

4. Take 1 inch cinnamon stick and roast it slightly in a frying pan, tossing the pan often for about 1 minute, then crush it to a powder in a mortar n pestle, keep aside.

5. Take 4 tbsp of the cherry syrup and mix the corn flour, lime zest powder, cinnamon powder, 1 tsp of sugar until it is smooth. Then put the cherries with 1 cup of syrup in a pan and let it come to a boil, then add this mixture stirring constantly, very soon the cherry syrup will begin to thicken, taste it, add a little sugar if you think it needs a bit, then take it off the heat, pour it in a bowl, let it come to room temperature, when it is there, cover it with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight and it will settle and almost become like cherry jam.

6. So next day we are ready to put it all together. Mount the cake on a high platform, make it by placing a plate on a deep high bowl, you can rotate it also, now with a serrated long knife cut around the edges of the cake to get 3 layers of the cake. Turn the cake slowly as you cut through the cake. Obtain 3 layers.

7. Melt 40 gm of dark chocolate in a water bath and pour that chocolate over the 1st layer of the cake, make that surface almost coated with the liquid chocolate, after that place that cake layer in freeze until the chocolate solidifies.

8. Now we will whip the cream, freeze the whisk, the bowl for whipping for around 30 minutes. The cream should be very cold, around 0 degrees Celsius, then with an electric beater whisk it, when the cream starts to thicken add the vanilla essence, powdered sugar bit by bit and beat it until it just begins to hold the peak when tested with the whisk. Don’t over beat or your cream will be grainy and if using dairy cream it will turn into butter. Just when the cream begins to hold the peak, stop right there.

9. Dissolve the sugar in the water n red rum mixture. Get the cake layer with chocolate and the cherry mixture out of the freeze, with a spoon spread the cherry mixture on top of the chocolate layer which is now solid, cover that surface completely with the cherries. Now take whipped cream and spread it over the cherries until you cover them completely with cream. Place this layer on a round piece of cardboard so the cake will have a solid base and it will easy to move the cake further.

10. Now take 2nd layer of cake and sprinkle the rum syrup with a spoon or brush over both the sides of the layer. Then carefully place that layer on top of the cherry layer, then on top of this layer spread a layer of whipped cream. Then you place the 3rd layer on top of this cream and again brush the rest of the rum syrup all over the surface. Then cover this surface with whipped cream. Now we have to cover the whole cake with cream, so cover the sides carefully with cream. When it is done, put the rest of the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe on top of the cake the way you like it, I made small spiral rounds around the edges.

11. Now we will make chocolate shavings, get a bar of chocolate, take sharp knife, hold the blade of the knife between you two hands so it is parallel to your body, then resting your hands on the chocolate bar, putting some weight on the bar so it doesn't slip, drag the knife towards you and the chocolate shavings will appear. Be careful when you do this, do it slowly, get around 1 cup of shavings.

12. Take a handful of chocolate shavings and press it lightly around the base of the cake. Go around the cake until the cake is covered with the shavings around the base. Now place whole cherries on top of each cream round you have made on the top, then fill the middle portion of the top of the cake with a handful of shavings. Now see how beautiful it looks! Isn’t it just so amazing? You just did that!

And now we are ready to cut into the black forest gateau cake! Look at the cake for some time and absorb the beauty; let the cake settle a bit also, and then approach with love and with a knife. Bon appétit.

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