Back to the Seventies

Welcome to December! Never mind autumn, that literary season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Let’s talk about December, the seasons of… dark mornings, gloomy days and fairy lights gleaming through the grey to bring that sprinkle of joy at the end. It also happens to be the birthday month for both me and Himself (mine is 17th, his is the 20th). When this month’s baking box arrived with its glorious 1970’s offering of a Black Forest Gateau, it took us approximately fifteen seconds to decide that would be our joint birthday cake.

Off he went to do the shopping for the bits needed. Therein lies comedy of errors part one, but more of that shortly. Let’s talk about Black Forest Gateau a little bit, shall we? Check out this Wikipedia definition.

Black Forest gâteau or Black Forest cake is a chocolate sponge cake with a rich cherry filling based on the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, literally “Black Forest Cherry-torte”.

The article then goes on to explain that under German law, it MUST have Kirsch to be called a Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte. This makes me sad, because there is no Kirsch in the finished product. Then I stop being sad, because it’s a chocolate and cherry cake and how can that even be wrong?

Anyway.

On this misty, moisty Saturday morning, my cat decided that 7.30am was a perfect time to drag me from my warm cocoon, where I was having dreams about Henry Cavill in the Witcher (we were binging season two the previous evening. These were good dreams. My cat and I are presently not on speaking terms). I left Himself sleeping and came downstairs to feed the cat. Once awake, I’m always awake, so what else do people do on a Saturday morning at 8am but make cherry jam for a cake.

Frozen cherries, introduced to sugar and a splash of water… and wait.

And wait.

Boil, cherries. Boil, I say!

Then, to break the monotony, wait a bit more. It was my clever strategy to make the jam early so it had time to set. This part of my plan worked brilliantly. The cherries bubbled away contentedly, never once threatening to turn my stove top into a chaotic murder scene and I left the pan to one side to… en-jamify? Bejam (wait, wasn’t that an actual shop in the 1970s?)… jamulate? What is the right verb for something becoming jam? Oh. Set. What a dull option.

Moving onto the batter. Usual state of affairs here: butter, sugar, eggs, dry bits. Bash it all together and you get batter enough for three tins. Two were the same size. The third one was just ever so slightly bigger, but eh. I’m a rogue. But they looked passingly acceptable pre-oven.

See the jam in the background trying to be a jammy hero?

What I will say about this bake is that I’m fairly certain it used every bowl, pan and spoon I own. Because once the cakes were baked – and let’s just take a moment to appreciate how deliciously glorious they looked… mostly… (also check out that beauty in the background – these are Baked In’s new Cookie Jars, and they are stupendously pretty – see them here as part of the cooking kits range).

There were the ones in the same size tins. Not shown: The Leaning Tower of Cake PIsa on the other side of the room.

Then came the fun that was making a) ganache; and b) the whipped cream for the filling. Himself’s trip to the shop highlighted a gap in his understanding of cream and it wasn’t until I took it out of the fridge that I discovered he’d bought extra thick double cream. By ‘extra thick’, we are talking clotted cream levels of rigidity. Do not overwhip, cheerfully stated the instructions and I stared between them and the cream in some sort of dairy-based paralysis. In the end, I just attacked it with a whisk and hoped. It sort of worked. I count ‘sort of worked’ as a win.

Constructing the cake though, that was actually genuinely fun and it all felt so 1970’s that I should have been wearing roller skates, a kipper tie and listening to ABBA. I honestly thought for a moment I might have opened the fridge to find a prawn cocktail manifesting in there. Cake. Cream. Jam. Cake. Cream. Jam. Lop-sided cake. Ganache. Remaining cream. Cherry liquid. ‘Swirled’. (Or at least manhandled with a skewer). Decorated with chocolate curls.

And what do you know… this happened.

Let us overlook the bit where I forgot to dust it with icing sugar. Nothing to see here, move along.

So there we have it, folks. The Black Forest Gateau birthday cake for two children born in the 1970’s feels weirdly appropriate. All in all, a brilliant cake to make, super-easy and weirdly rewarding.

The washing up? Less so.

For now though, have a splendid seasonal holiday of choice, enjoy your baking fun times and see you on the other side for what can only be a better 2022.

Right?

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