Black Forest Cake
(This is the only German recipe that Anna’s Oma did not contribute. I had always wanted to make one, so this gave me the perfect reason. Don’t judge the decoration, it was my very first attempt!)
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (20 ounce) cans pitted sour cherries
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch, round, cake pan
In a large bowl, combine flour, 2 cups of sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, milk, butter, and 1 tablespoon vanilla; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool layers in pans at least 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely. I put the layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make sure they were really cold—and they are easier to frost.
Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine reserved juice, cherries, 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool before using.
Combine whipping cream and confectioner's sugar in a chilled medium bowl. (I also added about a teaspoon of vanilla, it just makes it a little better.) Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.
With a long serrated knife, split each cake layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs; set aside. Reserve 1 1/2 cups Frosting for decorating cake; set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs on top and side of each cake layer with a pastry brush or your hands. To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting; top with 3/4 cup cherry topping. Top with second cake layer; repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with the third cake layer. Frost side of the cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on sides of the cake. Spoon reserved frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of the cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of the cake. This is better if you do it in cool weather—the whipping cream melts fast in hot weather, so have easy access to a spot in the refrigerator!