Sunday, October 23, 2016
Dunkler Kirschkuchen (Spiced Chocolate Cherry Cake)
It is Tim's birthday today. Originally, I wanted to make him a cake containing raspberries, but I didn't find anything that inspired me. Instead, I turned to my newest baking book, Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss. My mother's family were Germans and Prussians who emigrated to Australia in the 1870s, so I have a very strong interest in German baking as my way of connecting to them. Luisa is an Italo-American who lived in Germany during part of her childhood and who married into a German baking family, hence the inspiration for her book.
The recipe that I chose to make for Tim is Dunkler Kirschkuchen (literally, a dark cherry cake). I chose it because the flavours (chocolate, almond, cherry) sounded wonderful, I had all of the ingredients, and the cake sounded festive enough to be a birthday cake (there is no photo of it in the book).
I made myself a cupcake to try:
The cupcake was slightly drier than I imagine the larger cake will be because I just approximated baking times (and talked on the phone while it was in there!), but the flavour was awesome - chocolatey, nutty and spicy (from the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg). The toasted almonds gave the cake a lovely varied texture.
The cake itself took around half an hour longer than the baking time stated in the book because the batter is very moist from the cherries - the middle took quite a while to set, hence my theory that the cake itself will be moister. While baking, this cake smelled just like Christmas because of the lovely spices.
Luisa said that this cake is usually only made in autumn or winter in Germany - that makes it perfect for this year's Melbourne spring. The day I made this cake, it rained, hailed, shone and blew a gale in alternating cycles all day, and the temperatures were woefully cool for this time of year.
If you have a yen to make this cake, the ingredients are:
100g toasted almonds (or toast them yourself for 10 minutes in the oven)
585g canned pitted sour cherries, drained (I just used a 500g bag of frozen cherries)
100g dark chocolate
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 pinch nutmeg
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line the base of a 9" springform pan.
Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or microwave and set aside.
Grind the almonds into a fine meal.
Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.
In another bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and lemon zest, then beat into the butter mixture until just combined. Add the melted chocolate and fold in to combine.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold firm peaks. Fold one third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remainder of the whites until no white streaks remain.
Scrape the thick batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth over evenly. Top the cake with the cherries, pressing down gently but do not press so hard that they sink into the batter.
Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until cooked through (mine took half an hour longer). Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes before unclipping the springform collar and allowing the cake to cool completely on the wire rack.
You can serve this cake dusted with icing sugar and with sweetened whipped cream if you like. I did neither, as I gave the whole cake to Tim simply placed on a homemade cake board and wrapped in gladwrap so that he could take it to share with his family for his birthday (which is today).