Over the Fourth of July weekend when I went up to the Berkshires to visit Kevin’s family, and while I was there I decided I wanted to bake. Kevin’s Mom and I share a mutual love of Ina Garten, so I took out a stack of her cookbooks, and after some searching found the perfect cake. The recipe is for a Strawberry Summer Cake, with sour cream and citrus zests baked into the cake, and loads of fresh sliced strawberries piled on top of whipped cream clouds. Kevin suggested we make something with cherries and chocolate, so I omitted the zests, added a layer of chocolate ganache, and ended up with an absolutely beautiful, and surprisingly delicious summer cake.
The cake itself is very moist – thanks in large part to the sour cream – and turns a deep golden brown color when baked. It has a nice, buttery flavor, and is the perfect canvas upon which to layer other flavors. The addition of chocolate fancied up this cake, and the cherries gave it an almost gourmet flair – the finished product was really a sight to behold, and a taste to savor. I was so pleased with it – I made it again this past weekend!
I only made a half recipe (and this recipe is thankfully very easy to cut in half), but it turns out I should have made a full recipe, since I made it again this weekend. It is super simple to make, and once the cake is done, the only steps left are to make the ganache, cup up the cherries, and whip up the cream! It’s simplicity is just one of the many reasons this is the poerfect summer cake – it leaves you ample time to relax, sit outside, take in the sun, and enjoy the season.
Black Cherry Chocolate Cake (makes TWO 8-inch cakes)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the filling (enough for 1 cake)
1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pint fresh cherries, hulled and sliced
For the ganache:
¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 pound cherries, pitted and sliced in half
Whipped cream filling (recipe above)
Ganache (recipe above)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
1) Butter the bottom an 8-inch cake pan, then line them with parchment paper and butter and flour the lined pan.
2) Cream the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine just until smooth.
3) Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove to wire racks and let cool to room temperature. If using 1 cake, wrap the second well and freeze.
4) To make the filling for the cake, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until firm. Slice the cake in half with a long, sharp knife. Place the bottom slice of the cake on a serving platter, spread with the ganache (reserve just enough to drizzle over the top) and top that with 1/2 the whipped cream, then scatter with cherries. Cover with the top slice of the cake and spread with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate with cherries and a drizzle (or several) of chocolate.