Monday, January 28, 2013

German Black Forest Cake, with Belgian Ingredients

Last Sunday we had some visitors over at our place and I made good use of the opportunity to make a German Black Forest Cake (called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in German and Zwarte Woud Cake in Dutch). This has been on my to-do-list for a very long time. I saw it on Yochana's recipe index and had it bookmarked on Pinterest months ago.

Making the chocolate sponge cake was pretty easy, I had no problems whatsoever with making the sponge cake, it was pretty smooth-sailing. It was really a very moist and fluffy cake, I would definitely use this recipe for making chocolate sponge cakes in future.

The only problem I had was with the whipping cream. I bought the wrong type (no thanks to my mediocre Dutch), and only realised it after whisking it for 4 minutes and wondering why the heck it took so long! Oh gosh, it was indicated as "niet opklapbaar" on the packaging, meaning not whiskable, and only suitable for adding into soups or stews as a thickener. It was already past 10pm on Saturday night. So early Sunday morning, I had to drag myself out of bed into the freezing cold, driving at snail's speed through the snow to the only supermart open on Sunday mornings. Finally I got myself a packet of 500ml 40%-fat dairy-based whipping cream. :)

I knew that non-dairy whipping cream was required as stated in the recipe but all I could find was dairy-based whipping cream in the supermart. What to do? So I tried adding gelatine to stabilise it during whipping, alas, without much success. In fact, the rosettes that I piped from the whipped cream couldn't hold the shape well at room temperature. Urrgh! Instead of using the piped rosettes as decoration, I decided to use them as "glue" instead. I stuck the raspberries one by one onto the piped rosettes to cover up the mess. Phew, at least they looked pretty neat! Well, if you are not intending to decorate using the whipped cream, then it's ok. But if you intend to pipe some rosettes, perhaps you should use a whipped cream dispenser (those from a pressurized canister) instead. But then again I read that the whipped cream will still separate after a few hours if no stabilising agent is added. Anybody has any suggestions on how to whip and stabilise dairy-based whipping cream so that it is stiff enough and holds its shape well at room temperature?

My chocolate shavings were also a bit of a problem. Silly me, I didn't do much research and I used the wrong type of knife and the wrong technique and I could only make tiny shavings which looked pretty much like saw-dust. Well, practice makes perfect, next time I promise to do better than this!

Anyway, so much for complaining. Don't let my grumblings deter you from attempting this recipe. Decorating this German Black Forest Cake was not that difficult after all, just that I didn't have much experience working with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. You could use ready-made whipped cream from a a canister and store-bought chocolate chips or shavings if you like. This is a very delicious German Forest Cake, all the more because I was very generous with the cherry jam, cherry fillings, fresh raspberries and chocolate shavings. All made in Belgium, so it was no wonder that the cake disappeared within minutes and I had only 1 tiny piece left to snap a picture.

Adapted from Aunty Yochana's Sponge Cake Recipe, makes a 8-inch cake

Ingredients A (sifted)
125g cake flour (or 110g plain flour + 1 tbsp corn flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate (baking soda)
1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients B
80g egg yolks (from 4 eggs @ room temp)
50g corn oil
50g fresh milk
35g cocoa powder + 70g hot water
75g sugar

Ingredients C
160g egg white (from 4 eggs @ room temp)
80g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

400 - 500g non-dairy whipping cream *
1 can of canned cherries (noordkrieken) (only 1/3 can was used, about 30 cherries in total, 15 for each layer)
1 bottle of cherry jam (kersenconfituur) (about 3/4 bottle used)
20 fresh raspberries (framboise) **
1 bar of Côte d'Or dark chocolate

* non-dairy whipping cream is preferred but I used dairy-based crème fraîche
** traditionally black forest cake is decorated with fresh cherries but I couldn't get fresh cherries.

1. Sift ingredients A in a big bowl.

2. Add ingredients B into a big bowl and beat well using a electric whisk. Add in ingredients A (sifted flour mixture) and fold using a spatula.

3. In a dry and clean bowl, use electric whisk to whisk the egg whites until there are big bubbles appearing. Add in 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and beat till it turns white. Add in 80g sugar over 3 times, a little at a time and beat until stiff peaks.

4. Pour 1/2 of the egg white mixture from step (3) into the egg yolk mixture from step (2), and use a spatula to fold in swiftly and lightly.

5. Pour the combined mixture from step (4) into the rest of the egg white mixture and again use a spatula to fold in swiftly and lightly.

6. Pour the cake batter into a 8-inch greased and lined springform cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 35 to 45 min or until cooked. Leave to cool completely, before using a sharp serrated knife to slice into 3 layers.

1. Using a spatula, spread some whipped fresh cream (crème fraîche) onto the 1st layer, then arrange some canned cherries on top; spoon a few spoonfuls of cherry jam and make sure the fillings are levelled before putting the next layer.
2. Place the 2nd sponge cake layer on top and repeat the whole process.
3. Place the 3rd layer on top and crumb the top and the sides with the remaining fresh cream. You can use a cake decorator knife to make grooves on the sides.
4. Last but not least, arrange the fresh raspberries (you can use blueberries or cherries too) on top and sprinkle some chocolate shavings in the centre.
5. Chill the cake in the fridge before serving.

Note : I have a nifty trick which I tried and found it pretty neat for cake-decorating, so I am sharing it with all of you. During cake decoration, you are bound to have some ugly fresh cream or chocolate markings on the table top around your cake, how do you make the final product look clean and neat without all these markings?

First you should get ready a lazy susan or what they called a turn-table. You can use the lazy susan to turn the cake round and round while crumbing the cake. First put the cake base (what you see in the picture is a golden-coloured 9-inch cardboard cake base I bought from Singapore) on the lazy susan, then put a big piece of baking paper on top of the cake base, so that it practically covers the whole of the lazy susan. Next, put the cake doily (the lacy white piece of paper) right in the centre of the baking paper, and let the cake sit on top of the cake doily. I recap, you should put cake on top of 1) cake doily on top of 2) baking paper on top of 3) cake base on top of 4) lazy susan. Get it? Then after decorating with fresh cream and chocolate shavings, slowly pull the piece of baking paper away so that the cake doily now sits on top of the cake base. And now the finished cake sits neat and pretty on the cake doily and cake base, without any traces of fresh cream and chocolate markings!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Steamed Banana Cake (No Oven, No Cake-Mixer)

Hello everybody, this is my first post for the year 2013! Happy New Year!

I have disappeared from the radar for some time because I am away (or rather back) in Singapore for a few weeks. These few weeks I have been enjoying mummy's home-cooked food and Singapore's famous hawker food so much so that I rarely have a chance to practise my baking skills, hehe ;p

So when mummy finally allowed me to use her kitchen and her gas-stove to steam a cake (she doesn't have an electric oven by the way), I jumped at the chance and steamed a simple cake that didn't even require a cake-mixer. In fact, I was a bit hesitant initally since the recipe did mention using a cake-mixer to beat the eggs and sugar until pale yellow. But what the heck! You have to improvise when the need arises! 穷则变 变则通!

Since my mum's kitchen was not equipped with all the necessary baking tools (mixing bowl, cake-mixer, not even an egg whisk), so I had to prepare everything with the most rudimentary tools such as folding in flour into the batter, using a rice cooker spoon, in the same little pot which I used to melt the butter, since I couldn't find a big enough bowl to act as a mixing bowl. Luckily I brought my own measuring cups and spoons and bought a small sieve from the local supermart, otherwise I couldn't even measure and sift the ingredients, haha.

Nevertheless, that didn't stop me from producing a nicely steamed cake. It really rose very high, even higher than the same steamed banana cake which I made in Belgium. I wonder could it be the gas-stove that made a difference? By the way, I was using a vitroceramic induction stove in Belgium.

Recipe was adapted from my steamed banana cake recipe, everything was the same, except that 
1) I omitted baking powder and used self-raising flour + 1 tsp baking soda instead.
2) Amount of mashed banana was less than 300g, I used 3 bananas and they were about 250g.
3) The rest of the ingredients were the same, but the steps were a little different from the original recipe. Melt the butter and sugar in a small pot over low fire until sugar dissolves, then set aside for the mixture to cool down a while. Then add in beaten eggs followed by mashed banana and mix well. Finally fold in sifted flour in 3 additions using a spatula. Steam over high heat for 45 to 50 min. 
There is no need to use cake-mixer, and the cake will rise beautifully just like the picture above.  In fact, I just used a metal fork to whisk the eggs, and a rice cooker spoon to fold in the flour. I didn't even have baking paper to line the base of the baking tin, so I just greased the base and sides with a little butter. Luckily the cake popped out easily. Amazing, isn't it? This is definitely a keeper recipe!

[Important : I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do, and I would be happy if you could give credit where credit is due, and link back to this post if you do make this cake and share it on your blog or facebook. Remember plagiarism is not the best form of flattery.]

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