Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A "daring" Black Forest from Fantasia

I did it! I joined the Daring Bakers! I'm so excited! Now please note that this cake I'm posting about is NOT a Daring Bakers challenge but I decided the most appropriate goodie to blog about while explaining Daring Bakers was my latest (and quite challenging) baking conquest:

Fantasia Bakery's recipe for Black Forest Cake

Where is Fantasia Bakery? Read on...

But first - the Daring Bakers.
The Daring Bakers is an online group of a few hundred bakers; most of them bloggers. Each month a challenge is released to the members and a post-date. We all bake the specified challenge recipe, make very minor alterations (if allowed) and post about the experience on the same exact date. I'm so excited for the first challenge and might even have to start throwing small monthly parties for people to come over and eat my completed challenges! Keep checking back to see how I do on my first one! Yay!

Now back to Fantasia Bakery and the Black Forest cake I made for a friend's birthday party on Saturday! Did you see my post on my family's Coffee Crunch Cake? I did a little research after I blogged about it. My family loved Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake and this cake was the closest we could come to it. Turns out... the pastry chef who created this cake for Blum's (Ernest Weil) left to start his own bakery: Fantasia Bakery, in San Francisco. He made the Coffee Crunch Cake there too and ran the bakery from 1948-1989. I found out after doing some web searches that he wrote a cookbook of most of his famous and beloved recipes from Fantasia about 2 years ago! What a complete treasure! The only hard copies I found of this cookbook were selling for over $250! But you can download a .pdf for a $25 donation.
Love to Bake Website
So when I asked said friend what he wanted for dessert for his birthday, and he said "Black Forest Cake" I immediately went to my .pdf and searched for what I figured would be a very impressive version of a Black Forest.

I started making the cakes a few days in advance and froze them as the recipe called for - until assembling the cake. I wonder now if this could have dried the cake out - but I was following the recipe!...

Butter Sponge and Devil's Food

Saturday morning was when I assembled the cake and it kicked off with shaving chocolate. Lots of chocolate. I chose a Hershey's Special Dark.

Shaving chocolate, and more chocolate, and more chocolate...
I had made the vanilla whipped cream (interesting ingredient: vanilla instant pudding) the night before so pulled that out of the fridge and started piping "a 1 inch thick circle around the edge", "a large circle in the center" and "a 1 inch thick circle between". Then filled the rest with cherry filling. Now I see how to get filling in between layers while keeping it tucked inside instead of oozing out!

Inside the first layer of the cake

The cake seemed really dry. So dry that the top half of my split Devils Food broke in half when I picked it up! 'Doh! Thank goodness the entire cake will be frosted!

Ack! A casualty!
Heavily brushing the cherry brandy syrup all over each cake layer

All frosted with vanilla whipped cream and ready to decorate!

Had to be sure the cherries were thoroughly dried or they'd "bleed" on the whipped cream

All carved up at the birthday party!

Overall I thought it was just okay. Even though I drenched the cake with the kirschwasser syrup - it was very dry. If I ever make a Black Forest again - I'm going to do my family's super moist chocolate mayonnaise cake instead of the Devil's Food and Butter Sponge this recipe called for. But I still thought it looked amazing. Everyone was impressed and thought it looked professional - so I fooled them all!

And I suppose the chef is always the most critical of their own food (oh and the chef's mother too - but that's another story...)


  1. Cool cake!!! Welcome to Daring Bakers...I'm yet to try black forest cake, cherries are a problem here in Jamaica, I didn't want to use the pie filling :( thats pretty much all we get in the supermarkets...what kind of cherries did you use? maraschino? we got those...

  2. Thanks Chantal! There are recipes for cherry pie filling that call for sour pitted cherries, cornstarch, butter and sugar but I *gasp* did just use pie filling. Things were too crazy planning for the party and everything else. If I'd just been concentrating on the cake I'd probably have done it all from scratch but decided to do the (actually recommended by the cookbook) shortcut of purchasing cans...

  3. Wow that looks amazing. Somehow I get the feeling you should do fine in the DB! :)

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  5. Oh that's great. I think I'll give it a shot then. Thx Lisa.

  6. Welcome to the Daring Bakers! This cake looks wonderful and your boyfriend looks thrilled iwth it.