Black Forest Cake Day, celebrated on March 28 every year, made us go back to our childhood memories. For ‘90s kids, the humble Black Forest Cake has been a staple at all our birthdays and special occasions. Unlike the variety of dessert and cake options at our disposal today, back then, our only fallback option was to dig into the Black Forest or Dutch Truffle cakes available at neighbourhood bakeries. So it was a given that we were going to celebrate this hero of the ‘90s on Black Forest Cake Day!
My earliest memory of the Black Forest Cake was when my aunt, who bakes cakes at home, would make one every now and then for an order. I always looked forward to making my own version of it from the leftover scraps, wriggling in as much of the canned cherries as I could. High on nostalgia, we spoke to four home bakers from across the country to find out what they think of the iconic Black Forest Cake.
Satisfying and Light
For Mumbai-based ShailySanghavi of TheNextDoorBaker, cake was synonymous with Black Forest Cake. Chocolate sponge, check. Whipped cream, check. Cherries and chocolate shavings, check. What’s not to like? Birthdays or not, a black forest cake or a pastry from City Bakery, Worli or Sarvottam, CP Tank was a regular affair for Shaily.
Now all grown up and a home baker, Shaily likes to stuff her Black Forest Cakes with fresh cherries soaked in kirsch, a colourless fruit brandy. According to her, the chocolate cake with whipped cream and kirsch-soaked cherries make for the most ideal dessert which is satisfying but light at the same time.
As a baker who prefers using seasonal produce, Shaily suggests pitting the cherries a day in advance. Letting them soak in kirsch sugar syrup for a long time ensures a deeper flavour, she adds. “It’s great that the cake industry in India is innovating with new flavours but the black forest cake is a classic which has taken a backseat," she says and continues, "I have noticed a surge in orders for black forest cake during the monsoon.”
“My grandfather always ordered a black forest cake for my birthday,” says Malvika Sharma of BakeYourDreamz about her earliest memories of the black forest cake. “It has a very versatile flavour and everyone loved it.” Apart from the taste, Malvika loves its look. “It has beautiful chocolate flakes, cream frosting and cherries on top. It looks so amazing and I remember the mouth watering feeling I always had even before I could take a bite!” Malvika and her siblings have had many fights over the last piece of black forest cake when they were growing up.
Malvika's version of the Black Forest Cake involves fondant and she customises minute details depending on the customer’s preferences. Malvika shares a few hacks for aspiring home bakers. For a flat top cake, she recommends using a wet towel. “When you are making a cake in a pan, wrap the exterior in a wet towel before putting it in the oven. This gives the cake a nice flat top.” She also adds, “Ensure all your ingredients are at room temperature. In case you forget to take the butter out of the fridge when you set out to bake, fill a glass with boiling water, empty it after a minute, and then place the warm glass over the top of your butter slab.”
While people in Delhi have moved on to fancier cakes, Malvika says that the older generation still gets nostalgic for black forest cake and she receives an order for the classic cake every now and then.
Palak Gandhi of The Cake Baby recently made her first black forest cake for a cousin’s birthday. According to the Ahmedabad-based home baker, the Black Forest Cake is the most common cake flavour. “Not only because it is so loved but also because it is so easily available. It is ideal for those who aren’t too fond of chocolate as black forest cake offers a mild, chocolate flavour."
If you are planning to make your own black forest cake at home, especially during the summer months, Palak warns, “Whipped cream cakes should always be worked upon in an air-conditioned room because you don’'t want a drippy mess at the end. Another hack I learned in the process of my home baking career is that, always use liquid whipped cream for whipping instead of powdered whipped cream as it never results in a firm cream.”
Unlike her fellow bakers from other cities, Palak believes that there is still very much a demand for the black forest cake. “In today's day and age of fancy cakes, everything is possible. The flavour lies on the inside of the cake. It has got nothing to do with the design. I often work on Black Forest Cakes customising them according to the client's preferences.”
First Cream Cake
Rakhi Ganeriwal of Trisha’s Chokolad says, “The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Black Forest Cake is a lot of chocolate and cherries!” The Guwahati-based home baker recollects, “Back then, there weren’t many bakeries in Guwahati. We had only one bakery here, Exotic, which is also the oldest bakery in Guwahati. It was famous for its Black Forest Cake and we always went there for our Black Forest Cake fix.”
Talking of why the cake is special to her, she says, “Black forest cake was the first cake I had with cream. Before that, most of the cakes we ate in Guwahati were made with butter cream icing which was stiff and too sweet. Black Forest Cake was the first cake I had with cream icing and chocolate.”