Double-dutch dark cocoa

black forest cake, bottom layers

Layers 1-5

I made a cake for a friend last week. The full process (finding recipe, ingredients, then baking & assembly) took a few weeks. It was a reasonable assay at a Black Forest Cake, though due to various parts, it didn’t qualify fully, though I had three real German people tell me it was good. My substitutions were sound, though it wasn’t perfect. – evidently learning to make a successful genoise takes practice. Still: I and the 20+ climbing buddies in the party room devoured it swiftly. Curious about the process? Lots more photos, with captions, are available here. Some discoveries from the process:

  • I recommend Flo Braker’s Baking for All Occasions cookbook, especially as it also offered the chocolate shortbread recipe that became the bottom layer of the cake. The book, however, could use a few instructive illustrations.
  • King Arthur Flour’s Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa powder is delicious!
  • Ice Hole cherry schnapps, made here in Minnesota. I picked it because it cost less than half of what imported kirschwasser would have cost. Only later did I discover that it’s red (unlike the real kirsch), which could have made for a very pink cake. Alas, my stand mixer’s muscle prevailed, and whipped the red right out of that cream.
  • I love my KitchenAid stand mixer, and love my mom for giving it to me. It’s over 40 years old, and was used three times during this recipe. And because it’s white, it was helpful in convincing me that my whipped cream was not pink.
  • I still want Gaby’s recipe. Hers was the only BFC I’d ever eaten, and it was heavenly.
halloween costumes

The ASI costume party photo booth

So! We’re in Daylight Standard Time! Cold, often dark days have arrived. It’s time to O.D. on cooking, culture, and wool. Here are some random recommendations, from my recent food & culture adventures near home:

  1. If in Minneapolis, go have dinner at Café Levain. I recommend the curly endive (frisée) salad and mussels.
  2. If again in Minneapolis, go enjoy a lunch or dinner at Quang, especially if you are in the mood for noodles. The Pho Bo Vein (noodle soup with meatballs) was delicious, as were the Bi Cuon (shredded pork spring rolls).
  3. Egad, another Minneapolis visit it in order: Check out the American Swedish Institute. We had a blast at the most recent cocktails event –”Loki’s Halloween Bash”– there, though I’m a huge fan of the art exhibits that the museum does during the day. The Turnblad mansion, which makes up most of the gallery space, is an experience in itself. Gorgeous building!



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