Tonight is the first gathering of a couples dinner group Steve and I joined. Each month, a couple hosts a dinner in their home and decides on a theme. Each couple brings an assigned course based on that theme.
This month’s theme is German and Steve and I we were “assigned” a dessert. I immediately thought of German Chocolate Cake–it was one of my dad’s favorites. But I decided to google “German desserts” to find something a bit more “exotic” that I might attempt.
This lovely dessert caught my eye. Black Forest Cake.
“Is it too ambitious?” I asked myself, noting it had 19 separate ingredients. Recipe HERE.
I reassured myself. “You can do it! After all, it’s a dinner group, right? Surely nobody would bring a dessert from a box or worse, a bakery!” My internal cheerleader was working hard to convince myself to give it a try.
I had two weeks to gather everything I’d need for the cake. First, from Amazon, I ordered extra special cherries, cherry jam (not preserves!) and Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
Then, last week, I convinced myself I needed a real baker’s mixer, not the puny hand-held mixer I’ve had for years. I could hardly (1) hold the mixer, (2) add ingredients and (3) scrape the bowl with only two hands, right?
So, on our weekly trek to Costco, I purchased this red beauty.
At $400, it does just about everything (IT BETTER!)–even makes pasta! (I make pasta from scratch about as often as I bake a cake from scratch.)
When the day of reckoning arrived, (today), I woke at 5:45, raring to get started. I read each step–at least twice, because I’m so good about misreading or reading out of order.
“Alexa, play Yanni,” I commanded, figuring Yanni was good baking music.
As I slid the three cake pans into the oven, I thought, “Gee, this isn’t so hard. Everything is going perfectly. Just perfectly.” My mouth began to water thinking of eating it.
I set the timer for 23 minutes, opened the oven, pressed the top. It bounced back. I stuck a toothpick in the middle, it came out clean.
“Perfect!” I thought, smiling.
I took the cake out of the oven, placed it on the counter to cool for 15 minutes–even set the timer for that.
I set out the cooling rack and waited. 15 minutes. Just like the instructions said.
I flipped the first pan over.
The cake wouldn’t come out. “Dang,” I thought. “Didn’t I use enough Pam?”
I pounded it on the counter and finally, it came out, less a tiny piece from the edge that was extra stubborn coming out of the pan.
The, the 2nd layer. A bit more stubborn. I ran a knife along the edge and pounded it on the counter, then pounded harder. Finally, it came out. In three pieces. Double-dangit.
I took a deep breath and repeated the process with Pan #3. Except I pounded it harder. And harder. Finally, I had to dig it out of the pan.
You can tell which layer is which. I promise.
I texted a picture to my neighbor friend, Judy, who last night told me Aldi sells German Desserts when I confessed my concerns to her last night. She reassured me with enough “frosting glue” nobody would ever know, and it would still taste good.
I replied that I’d slathered it with enough Cherry Bourbon that perhaps nobody would notice, or at least wouldn’t care.
At this point, I wanted to text my dear friend and Baker Mistress Patty to ask her what I’d done wrong, but I was pretty sure she wouldn’t appreciate the question at 5:30 a.m. CST.
To make a long story short (if it’s not too late) here’s the finished product.
With purposely low lighting and just the right positioning maybe it doesn’t look so bad. But, from this angle, it doesn’t look lopsided and you can’t see all the gashes.
So, how about this?
So, about now, I’m thinking, “Do I make a trip to Aldi to get a prettier dessert?”
To which I reply to myself, “Practice what you preach. Wabi sabi. Wabi sabi.”
If ever there was an example of wabi sabi, it would be my version of Black Forest Cake. What beauty can be found in it, pray tell?
Here are but a few things I came up with:
- I got a pretty new mixer out of it.
- Other dinner guests probably will remember me at the next dinner. (Oh, she’s the one that brought that cake.)
- They will also surely be able to tell it’s homemade. (Of course, depending on how it tastes, that may not be a good thing.)
- I developed a taste for cherry bourbon.
- I get to try out my new cake transporter. (I can always say the cake was damaged in-transit.)
Last but not least, it gave me a good reason to write. And considering my lack of motivation to write lately, if that’s not beautiful, I don’t know what is.
AUTHOR NOTE: If any of bakers out there have any helpful advice on how to avoid the problem that turned this cake from perfection to bleh, feel free to comment!