Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Blackforest Logcake

I didn't plan to make any logcake this year so this one came about unplanned. Someone requested for a small cake for her wedding anniversary which is around Christmas time and it's a request I couldn't refuse but can't disclose the reason here. Having limited time and a whole lot of fresh cherries in the fridge, I decided to make a blackforest logcake for her. Logcakes generally look impressive but are fairly quick and simple to make so if you want to impress your family and friends at a Christmas party, make them this logcake ;).

I will include tips on how to simplify or adapt your bake if you want to save time or make things simpler. Let me describe what this cake is made of...

Soft and fluffy but rich chocolate chiffon sponge with coffee liqueur added for that extra oomph, rich and juicy fresh cherries simmered in fruity wine, sugar and lemon juice, these two elements bound together by lightly sweetened dairy whipped cream and wrapped in a layer of dark chocolate ganache on the outside....Droolz!!

Cherry jam
I began preparations a few days before baking. You may skip this step and just buy canned cherries. Drain the liquid from the can before using the cherries. I made my own cherry "jam" as I can control what goes inside. Making this a few days before hand allows the flavours to mature over time in the fridge. You may use the homemade jam freshly made or just rested overnight and it still tastes good.

250g fresh cherries (pitted), halved or quartered
35g caster sugar (more if you have sweet tooth)
35g Choya (you may use Brandy or any fruity wine of your choice)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
A pinch of salt

Note: you may add cornstarch if you wish to have a more jam-like texture but it's optional.

1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring with a spatula.

2. Simmer and keep stirring for about 20 minutes or until liquid is reduced and thickened.

3. Transfer into a bowl or container to cool. Cover and refrigerate for a few days until ready to assemble the cake.

Cooking cherries!

On the day of assembly, you may spoon out about 1 tbs of the liquid. This is used to brush the sponge cake before filling with cream.

Chocolate chiffon sponge cake
This is a tried and tested recipe over a couple of years that has gotten great reviews.

Ingredients (10x12" baking tray):
2 egg yolks
5g caster sugar
28g canola or vegetable oil
30g fresh milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Kahlua coffee liqueur (optional but adds to the flavour)
13g Dutch processed cocoa powder*
26g cake flour
1/6 tsp baking soda*
A pinch of salt

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
40g caster sugar

* If you only have regular cocoa powder instead of Dutch processed cocoa powder, add 1/4 tsp baking powder and use 1/4 tsp baking soda as it is acidic in nature and the batter will deflate quite fast.

1. Line baking tray with baking paper. Set oven rack to lowest position. Preheat oven to 170℃.

2. Prepare egg yolk batter. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Add oil and whisk until combined. Add milk, vanilla and coffee liqueur and whisk until combined. Gradually sift in cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt and whisk until no trace of flour is seen.

3. Prepare the meringue. In a clean metal bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peak just begins to forms, adding sugar gradually along the way.

4. Fold the meringue into the egg yolk batter in three additions quickly but gently. Pour the batter into prepared baking tray. Tap the tray on table a few times to release trapped air bubbles.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Remove immediately from baking tray and cool the cake in a rolled up position while it is still warm. It doesn't matter whether you roll the long or shorter side. It's up to you.

While the cake is cooling, you may prepare the dark chocolate ganache and whipped cream. The ganache is optional if you don't have time. Simply prepare more whipped cream (use 250ml of whipping cream instead of 200ml. Please do the math conversion yourself :p) and add cocoa powder to half of the whipped cream.

Dark chocolate ganache
180g dark chocolate (chopped)
18g unsalted butter
60g heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Kahlua coffee liqueur (optional)

1. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave oven or using the double boiling method.

2. Heat cream in a saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Pour over melted chocolate. Stir until well combined.

3. Add salt and flavourings and mix well. Set aside to stand at room temperature. It will firm up over time.

Note: this is a rather firm ganache, suitable for hot and humid Singapore. If you stay at a cooler place, increase the cream to 90g instead.

Whipped cream
200ml heavy cream/ whipping cream (35% fat)
2 tbs (15g) icing sugar
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 tbs water
1 tbs fresh milk or heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Place heavy cream into mixing bowl and chill it in the fridge.

2. In a small microwaveable bowl, sprinkle gelatin powder over water. Let it bloom for a few minutes. Microwave for 10 sec at medium power and stir until gelatin has dissolved. Add milk and mix well. Microwave for another 10 sec at medium power if necessary (still have gelatin lumps). Set aside to cool.

3. Use a hand whisk or electric mixer at low speed to beat whipping cream with icing sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add in gelatin mixture and whisk by hand until well combined. Check that the cream is able to form firm peaks. Stop whisking if it does or it may separate. Continue to whisk until firm peaks form.

If you don't intend to use ganache, divide the cream into two equal portions. Add about 2 tbs of sifted cocoa powder to one portion and gently fold it in with a whisk or spatula.

1. Unroll the chiffon sponge. Brush the sponge with some liquid from cooking the cherries. Use a spatula to apply whipped cream on the surface. Apply less cream about 5cm from the edge away from you.

2. Add cherry jam in three rows as shown below.

3. Carefully roll up the Swiss roll with the baking paper wrapping around it. Gently squeeze the roll to ensure the cream fills all the crevices inside. Freeze the roll for one hour.

Swiss roll after an hour of freezing. See the bit of cream and fruit squeezed out at the ends

Chill the cocoa flavoured whipped cream in the fridge if you aren't using ganache while the Swiss roll is in the freezer.

4. Cut the ends of the Swiss roll with a serrated knife, cleaning the knife after the first cut. Apply a bit of ganache on the cakeboard before placing the Swiss roll on. This is to "glue" the cake to the cakeboard. Apply some ganache on the roll to stick on the cut ends of the Swiss roll to form "branches" from the main trunk.

Note that you may use cocoa flavoured whipped cream instead of ganache.

5. Continue to apply ganache on the whole surface of the logcake using a small spatula. You don't have to be very neat about this so it's perfect for beginners and messy bakers like me ;). Use a fork to draw lines on the surface of the logcake such that it resembles bark patterns.

6. Dust some snow powder on and add christmas decorations if you wish. Chill the cake in the fridge. Best eaten one or two days later.

Note: the portion of whipped cream, cooked cherries and dark chocolate ganache I typed out here is rather generous and you probably won't use finish all of it. If you have leftovers, I suggest you mix the leftover cherries into the whipped cream and drop some dollops of dark chocolate ganache in there. Freeze the whole mixture in a container and you have homemade version of Cherry Garcia ice-cream that is not overly sweet! My neighbour who tried it said it tastes fantastic and I should consider selling ice cream! If you skip the dark chocolate ganache, you probably have just enough cream to fill and cover the Swiss roll.

Have a Blessed Christmas!

With love,
Phay Shing

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