Yesterday was my birthday, and in honor of that most auspicious of occasions, I baked a cake and brought it to work for my office birthday party on Thursday. I call it Blackout the Forest Cake because it's sort of like a cross between blackout cake and black forest cake. To make it, I adapted parts of Raspberry Blackout Cake with Ganache-y Frosting and Chocolate Chip-Raspberry Blondie Bars from Vegan With a Vengeance.
I started out making the Raspberry Blackout Cake, substituting cherry preserves for raspberry:
Instead of topping it with more cherry preserves, I made the raspberry layer from the Chocolate Chip-Raspberry Blondie Bars, substituting frozen cherries for raspberries:
All that was topped with ganache:
Then another cake and more cherries. When I moved the second cake from the cooling rack to the cake, it ripped about halfway down and I nearly shit my pants. Thankfully, all the toppings covered it up quite nicely and no one could tell:
Then, the whole thing was frosted with ganache and refrigerated along with the remaining topping to firm it up to a spreadable and pipeable consistency:
I also dipped some fresh cherries in the ganache for decoration. I kept the stems on because I thought they kind of looked like birthday candles, and because it made them easier to dip. To get a good layer of chocolate on them, I dipped them, refrigerated them, dipped them again and put them back in the fridge until it was time to use them:
I'm not so great at frosting cakes yet, so I wasn't able to completely hide the seam between the cakes when I poured on the ganache. I managed to cover the seam with the refrigerated ganache, but it didn't come out as smooth as I'd hoped. I guess I just need practice (the top isn't so smooth either, but that's to be expected with the cherry chunks on it).
The next thing I did was pipe chocolate circles onto the cake wherever I wanted to place the fresh cherries. I think of them as "Ganache-y Os":
Then I pressed the chocolate covered cherries into the ganache-y os:
I probably should have done the cake assembly and decoration on the base of my cake carrier, but I didn't because I'm not so smart. I also made the even less smart move of covering my carrier with parchment paper, so that when I piped around the base of the cake, I wouldn't be doing it directly onto the carrier. Moving the cake from the cutting board to the carrier was a nightmare. I really thought I was going to wreck the whole thing. The sides ripped significantly, but I was able to hide it with icing. Then I piped a border on the top and bottom of the cake:
Thanks to the stupid parchment, the cake slid around the carrier throughout my commute (bus, train and 20-minute walk) and I thought it would certainly be ruined by the time I got to work. As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, it didn't turn out too bad; the trim is just a little flat. Here's a shot of the inside:
The cake went over very well, with two people having seconds and one attempting to steal one of the pieces saved for absentees.
Since I'd never made a cake like this before, I did half a test cake last weekend by baking one cake, cutting it in half and layering the two halves instead of layering two cakes:
Here's a shot of the cherry and chocolate layers:
My family loved the testcake so much I knew it'd be good enough for my coworkers. Actually, my mother loved it a little too much: my father had to make her back away from the table and when no one was looking, she rushed the cake and took a second piece (part of a piece I was saving for a friend). She's been talking about the cake all week, so I'm in the process of turning it into cupcakes for Mother's Day (literally in the process; I'm typing this while the ganache is cooling in the fridge). If the cupcakes turn out half as well as the cake did, it will be a happy Mother's Day indeed.