Black Forest Cake Roll! The classic European cake made with cherries, chocolate cake, whipped cream and Kirschwasser is turned into a cake roll covered with rich chocolate glaze and topped with whipped cream and, ummmm, Maraschino cherries.
Black Forest Cake is one of the most famous traditional cakes from Europe and has always been a favorite of mine. Chocolate and cherry is a perfect flavor combination and the dousing of Kirschwasser in this cake only makes it better, in my opinion. (Of course if you can’t or don’t do liquor you can replace the Kirschwasser with cherry juice.)
Me? I want the Kirschwasser, and plenty of it. I know, shocking, right? Although I love the flavor of liquor in desserts, it’s not about making it taste like a cocktail. You can check out my post, Simple Syrup Complex Taste, to learn how alcohol brings out flavors in foods. Or you can just trust me and enjoy.
And now a little something for you baking geeks:
The base cake for my Black Forest Cake Roll is a chocolate genoise, which is a type of sponge cake. Broadly speaking, there are two types of cakes; butter cakes and sponge cakes.
Butter cakes have a base of butter and sugar. A large proportion of flour helps form the structure of a butter-based cake. Butter cakes are rich and moist and can be served with no icing (Pound Cake), with buttercream icing (Vanilla Butter Cake) or with fresh fruit (Buttermilk Bundt Cake).
I’ll often sprinkle a little syrup on a butter cake to enhance the flavor. But a little syrup goes a long way. Too much syrup will make a butter cake pasty and mushy, and no one wants a pasty and mushy cake.
To learn more about butter cakes check out my “Cake Batter” series in the Baking School tab in the menu at the top of the page.
Sponge Cake vs. Butter Cake:
A sponge cake has a totally different texture than a butter cake. Because the structure of the cake is mostly formed by whipped eggs and sugar, and because they usually have very little or no fat in them, a genoise is lighter and drier than a butter cake.
I know, I know, no one wants dry cake. So why would we ever make a sponge cake instead of butter cake?
Well, first of all, sponge cakes are great for roulades because they’re flexible and can be rolled without cracking. Also, as the name suggests, sponge cakes can absorb a whole lot of liquid. When I want a cake with a significant amount of syrup for both moisture and flavor, genoise works much better than butter cake.
I also prefer to use genoise with whipped cream filling because I like the light and spongy cake with the light and airy filling.
Soooo, that’s a very long explanation for why my Black Forest Cake Roll is made with a chocolate genoise. The whipped cream filling was a given. The last consideration is the cherries.
As my family and friends already know, and maybe you do too if you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, I’m kind of obsessed with sour cherries, and I’m completely obsessed with my sour cherry tree. So, while I have seen recipes that use sweet cherries for Black Forest Cake, for me only sour cherries will do. The tart, assertive flavor of sour cherries really marries well with dark chocolate.
I decided to glaze the roulade with a dark chocolate glaze because it looks so pretty, and it goes without saying that more chocolate is always a good thing.
So, about those Maraschino Cherries on top. The fact is, pitted sour cherries are not really that pretty, especially when they’ve been previously frozen.
I could tell you that I decorated the cake with Maraschino cherries because the bright red color looks striking against the dark brown cake. But the truth is…Maraschino cherries are a guilty pleasure of mine.
I know, I know, they’re really kind of gross. They have the texture of plastic and don’t taste like anything that comes from nature. Although I’m usually all about local and seasonal produce, and bake only from scratch using real ingredients, for some reason I have a soft spot for the jarred “cherries”.
I dunno, I guess it’s in the kid in me who always wanted the cherry on the sundae…
Watch this video to see how to put together a Black Forest Cake Roll:
You might also like: