A Baker’s Passport-January 2019

This blog celebrates desserts and what fun it is to write about them. Somehow, the adventure of discovering sweet and savory baking classics in their homelands has become the story of my life and now, a book: A Baker’s Passport: Recipes for Breads, Savory Pies, Vegetarian Dishes, Tarts, Cakes, and Cookie Classics. A Baker’s Passport is available for preorder now.



The cover will look something like this lead photo (by Rikki Snyder), although it is in its final stages of design by artist Cecile Kaufman. Most of the travel photos here will appear, along with studio shots of regional baking classics by Gary Silk, and over 200 recipes. Superb editing job by Dianne Jacob, with crack copy editing in the works by Mardi Balgochian. You’ll find a sample recipe for Black Forest Cake below, and a photo of the way it looks in Berlin.  Those of you who have commented or read along over the years are my true travel buddies, and I thank you for all the encouragement along the way.

Pub Date is 1.31.19

Volume 2 is now in production.  Onward!!

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Black Forest Cake (Schwartzwalder Kirsch Torte) in Berlin

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Black Forest Cake from Berlin

This version is two layers of chocolate cake, dark cherries, kirsch, and Chantilly Cream. It doesn’t include the bottom layer of biscuit you see in this photo because its focus is chocolate and cherry – you might just have to go to Berlin for yet another layer.

Yield: 1 tall 9” cake; 12 slices

For the cake:

1 3/4 cups cake flour       

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt                 

4 ounces dark chocolate, melted

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar                                                              

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar                                                        

1 cup whole or 2% milk 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs, separated

For the Filling:

14 oz. (2 cups) jarred or canned sour cherries, drained, plus 12 cherries, to garnish

¼ cup kirsch (cherry brandy; OK to sub in brandy mixed with cherry juice )

2 ounces sugar

For the Chantilly Cream:

3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

4 cups heavy cream, chilled

2 ounces kirsch (cherry brandy)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 packet cream stabilizer ( such as Whip It), optional

For Decoration:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated

12 cherries to decorate top

Heat oven to 350°. Prepare 2 9” cake pans by lining them with parchment paper or lightly greasing them, then set them aside. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt over a piece of parchment paper, then set the paper aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, mix the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then add the eggs yolks one at a time and mix until smooth. Add ½ of the flour mixture, then ½ of the milk and mix until just until combined. Repeat, so that all the flour and milk are incorporated into the batter. Transfer the batter to a large bowl, wash the mixer bowl and whisk, then whip the egg whites at medium speed until they are at medium peak, about 2-3 minutes. Fold ½ of the egg whites into the cake batter, then repeat. Pour the batter prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes; let cool.

Make the kirsch syrup while the cake is baking by stirring together 14 oz. cherries and kirsch in a bowl. Bring remaining sugar and reserved cherry juice to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves; remove from heat and set aside. Drain kirsch from cherries, and add it to cherry syrup in the saucepan. Set soaked cherries and syrup aside. Also prepare the Chantilly Cream while the cake is baking by mixing all the ingredients together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix at medium speed to a stiff peak, about 2 minutes. Season to taste, and place the Chantilly Cream into the refrigerator.

Once the cake has cooled, unmold it and place 1 layer of cake on a cake stand; brush heavily with cherry syrup. Pipe 1 cup of Chantilly Cream in a bullseye pattern of concentric circles. Place cherries in between the circles. Place another cake layer on top of the cherries and Chantilly Cream. Brush it heavily with syrup. Repeat the piping of circles and cherries with 2 cups Chantilly Cream, then smooth over the cherries with more Chantilly Cream. Spread a very thin layer of Chantilly Cream over top of the cake, then refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Using a long knife, score top into 12 wedges. Transfer remaining Chantilly Cream to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe 12 small rosettes on top of each wedge; place a cherry on top of each mound. Pour chocolate shavings over the center of the cake. Chill, about 2 hours.

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