Oktoberfest: Black Forest Cherry Cake

In German this is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. It is probably the most famous of all German desserts. There are several steps to this recipe but the result is worth it!

2 ¼ cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ cups water
¾ cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cherry Filling, below
1 bar (4 ounces) sweet cooking chocolate
2 cups chilled whipping cream
¼ cup sugar
Marachino cherries

Heat oven to 350º. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Beat flour, 1 2/3 cups sugar, the cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder, water, shortening, eggs and vanilla in large mixer bowl on low speed, 30 seconds. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Pour into pans. Bake 30-35 minutes until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes and remove from pans. Cool on racks.

Prepare Cherry Filling. With a vegetable parer or thin, sharp knife, slice across chocolate bar with long strokes to form 12-14 chocolate curls for garnishing cake. Or use a micro plane to grate the chocolate, depending on the look you're after. For best results, let chocolate stand in warm place for ten minutes before slicing. Refrigerate curls until ready to use.

Place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Beat whipping cream and ¼ cup sugar in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Spread bottom layer with about 2/3 of the Cherry Filling and 1 cup of the whipped cream. Place the other layer next and spread with remaining Cherry Filling. Frost side and top of cake with remaining whipped cream.

If desired coarsely shred enough remaining chocolate to measure ½ cup. Gently press shredded chocolate onto side of cake. Garnish top of cake with chocolate curls and cherries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cherry Filling:
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 can (16 ounces) pitted red tart cherries, well drained, reserving liquid
¼ cup Kirsch

Mix sugar and cornstarch in saucepan. Add enough water to reserved liquid to measure ¾ cup; stir into sugar mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in kirsch. Cut cherries into halves, stir into filling. Refrigerate until completely chilled.