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Black Forest Kirschtorte

Black cherries combined with chocolate or nuts in cakes were very popular in south Germany, Austria and Switzerland during the last century. Occasionally the cakes were built in layers, but mostly a layer of fresh fruit was covered with the uncooked cake mixture or blended with it and, typical of those regions, nuts were often included. Kirsch was not evident although rum was very common.

ingredients

75 g (3 oz) unblanched almonds, coarsely ground
50 g (2 oz) toasted breadcrumbs
5 g (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
5 g (1 tsp) ground cloves
30 ml (2 tbsp) kirsch
130 g (4 1/2 oz) caster sugar
9 egg yolks
10 g (2 tsp) orange zest
100 g (4 oz) plain dessert chocolate, melted and cooled
6 egg whites

Filling
1 kg (2 lb) morello, sour or black cherries, washed and stoned or 850 g (1 lb 12 oz) tinned pitted cherries
250 ml (9 fl oz) red wine
250 ml (9 fl oz) water
100 g (4 oz) granulated sugar
cinnamon stick
10 g (2 tsp) orange zest
140 ml (5 fl oz) kirsch
425 ml (15 fl oz) double or whipping cream
45 g (3 tbsp) caster sugar
40 g (4 tbsp) grated chocolate and chocolate curls for decoration

method

1. Prepare two 22 cm (8 1/2 in) spring-form tins: butter, line the base with paper, butter again, dredge with sugar and flour. Mix together the almonds, breadcrumbs, cinnamon and cloves and moisten with kirsch.

2. In a separate bowl beat the sugar and egg yolks until thick, pale and creamy. Mix in the orange zest and chocolate. Lightly combine with the first mixture. Whisk the egg whites separately until they hold firm snowy peaks. Lightly and quickly fold them into the main mixture until just combined.

3. Divide the mixture equally between the two tins. Smooth the top and tap each tin once to disperse any air pockets. Bake in the preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 for 30 minutes until well risen and slightly shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Cool on wire racks.

4. To cook the fresh cherries for the filling, combine the wine, water and sugar in a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick and orange zest, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Drop in the cleaned fruits and poach lightly for 10 minutes. Lift the fruits carefully out of the syrup and drain in a colander. Boil the syrup on a high heat for two minutes to reduce and thicken it slightly. Draw off the heat and leave to cool.

5. Mix 75 ml (3 fl oz) cherry syrup with 125 ml (4 fl oz) kirsch. Dry the cherries with absorbent kitchen paper. Whisk the cream until softly peaked and beat in the sugar until firm; fold in the remaining kirsch. Cut both chocolate sponges across the middle. Reserve 45-60 ml (3 - 4 tbsp) cream and a few cherries for decoration.

6. Place a sponge base on an elegant serving platter and sprinkle over about one-third of the kirsch syrup. Smooth over a quarter of the cream and press in half the cherries. Cover with a second sponge, sprinkle with more syrup, a layer of cream and the rest of the fruit. Place the third sponge on top, sprinkle with the remaining syrup and a layer of whipped cream. Cover with the last sponge layer and coat the top and sides of the whole cake with the rest of the cream. Dust the cake sides with chocolate.

7. Pipe the reserved cream in large rosettes on the cake surface and dot with cherries. Place a few chocolate curls in the middle to finish. Chill for 3 - 4 hours. Just before serving dredge a little icing sugar on the chocolate curls.

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