Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Cliffs of Insanity and The Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake-Chef Sheva Apelbaum
Our family has a medium sized sweet tooth.  I remember my dad telling me about his mom’s famous black forest cake.  He would go on and on about the layers, the cherries, the whipped cream and how good it was.  Unfortunately, we don’t have my grandmother’s original recipe, so I decided to consult an authority on German cooking, my friend Yael.

After some research and consulting with her friends, she got back to me with several options. Based on these (and with a lot of help from my mom), I proceeded to surprise my dad with homemade black forest cake.

I don’t know if you have ever seen the movie “Princess Bride”, but in the movie the hero, Wesley, goes through several different challenges.  He survives the fire swamp (which was filled with rodents of unusual size and fire-spitting pits), scales what looks like a mile-high, 90-degree cliff called the “Cliffs of Insanity”, duels in deadly sword fights, and even comes back from the dead.
Making this cake seemed at times a little like going through all of those challenges.  Some of our challenges included:
  • The first cake refused to rise,
  • The batter spilled on the floor
  • The cat got into the whipped cream
  • It took us almost 5 hours of labor to finish putting everything together
If after all of this introduction, you are still unafraid and would like to try this amazing confection, here are the instructions.


Chocolate Cake  2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped Cream 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling and Garnish
2 cans (15 ounces) pitted cherries, drained, juice reserved
3 Tbsp. cherry brandy
Grated semisweet chocolate
Maraschino cherries

Black Forest Cake Final Assembly -Sheva Apelbaum Black Forest Cake Final Assembly 0-Sheva ApelbaumBlack Forest Cake Final Assembly 1-Sheva Apelbaum Black Forest Cake Final Assembly 2-Sheva ApelbaumBlack Forest Cake Final Assembly 3-Sheva Apelbaum Black Forest Cake Final Assembly 4-Sheva ApelbaumBlack Forest Cake Final Assembly 6-Sheva Apelbaum Black Forest Cake Final Assembly 7-Sheva ApelbaumBlack Forest Cake Final Assembly 8-Sheva Apelbaum Black Forest Cake Final Assembly 9-Sheva ApelbaumBlack Forest Cake Final Assembly 10-Sheva Apelbaum Black Forest Cake Final Assembly 11-Sheva Apelbaum
Assembly Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to  350 degrees F.
  2. Grease and lightly flour one 10-inch round cake pan.
  3. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Add in the dry mixture plus 1 1/4 cups of water, beating on low speed just until combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 10-20 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack to cool completely.
Instructions for the whipped frosting
  1. In a saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over brandy. Let it sit until it is softened for about 5 minutes. Stir 1/3 cup of cream into gelatin mixture. Heat over low heat until gelatin is dissolved. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in remaining cream. Cover and chill for a half hour.
  2. Beat cream mixture at medium speed until soft peaks form. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla.
Instructions for the Sauce
  1. To prepare the filling, in a small saucepan, boil reserved juice from the sour cherries until reduced by half. Then add the brandy.
Assembling the Cake
  1. Sprinkle one of the cakes with the cherry syrup. Spread with 1/4 of the whipped cream. Top with half of the canned cherries; press in gently. Repeat with second layer, cherry syrup, and whipped cream.
  2. Frost top and sides of cake with some whipped cream. Spoon remaining whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.  Make rosettes over cake about an inch away from each other. Top each rosette with a maraschino cherry.
  3. Place grated chocolate in the middle of the cake.
  4. Store in fridge for about  an hour before serving.
Black Forest Cake-Sheva Apelbaum
If you think that all of this work for a little cake was just a bit excessive, then you, me and my mom all agree.  But Dad thinks that it was all worth it, to the last crumb!


  1. Sheva,

    Did you make the cake by yourself?....Nice looking cake!

    Lauren Porcelli

  2. Hallo Shiva,
    your "Schwarzwälderkirschtorte" looks really gorgeously and extremly delicious. It is perfect!
    Mighty impressed

  3. OMG, my husband would agree with your dad, that it was worth it to the very last crumb! Bravo!!!!

  4. Oh, that's beautiful! You completely redeemed yourself, Mr. A. You couldn't have said it more exquisitely.

  5. Thank you, Lauren, Yael, Inbar, Dawn, Abba and Ema! To answer your questions - yes, the cake was delicious! I promise, if it was possible, then I would send you all a HUMONGOUS slice of cake!