The Most Amazing Black Forest Naked Cake

My absolute favourite layer cake, this Milk Bar style Black Forest Naked Cake is packed full of cherries, whipped cream, and dark chocolate ganache. It's much easier to make than it looks and tastes incredible!


Ingredients:

For the chocolate sheet cake:

  • 115 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 300 g caster sugar (US granulated sugar)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 120 ml buttermilk
  • 60 ml sunflower or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate fudge sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 130 g plain or all-purpose flour
  • 15 g cornflour or cornstarch
  • 70 g cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the cherry filling:

  • 450 g fresh or frozen cherries pitted
  • 50 g caster sugar (US granulated sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour or cornstarch

For the dark chocolate ganache:

  • 80 g dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 60 ml double or heavy cream

For the cherry drizzle:

  • 2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry liqueur) optional - see method
  • 4 tablespoons cherry juice

For the whipped cream filling:

  • 480 ml double or heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons icing sugar or confectioner's sugar

To assemble the cake:

  • 12 fresh cherries for decoration optional
  • Six inch cake ring
  • 20 inches baking acetate


Instructions:

For the chocolate sheet cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (160°C fan) and grease and line a 20cm x 30cm (12in x 8in) cake tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in your stand mixer, or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer, until well combined. Add the eggs (all at once is fine) and beat on high until completely mixed together.
  3. Place the buttermilk, sunflower oil, chocolate fudge sauce, vanilla extract, and instant coffee granules into a smaller jug or bowl and mix together until the coffee has dissolved. Pour this into the bowl with the butter/sugar mix, and beat well on high for a few minutes, scraping down the bowl as and when necessary.
  4. Sift the flour, cornflour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into the bowl with the batter. Mix together gently until only just combined, and then spoon the batter into the pre-lined cake tin. Smooth out flat, making sure the batter makes it all the way to the corners.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with a couple of crumbs on it. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes or so, and then remove from the tin and place on the rack to cool completely.

For the cherry filling:

  1. Place the cherries, caster sugar, and cornflour into a saucepan on a medium heat. Stir occasionally, and once the mixture comes to the boil, reduce the heat slightly and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once thickened, remove from the heat and leave to cool completely before using in this recipe.

For the dark chocolate ganache:

  1. Place the chocolate chips into a small bowl, and cover with the double cream. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds, give the mixture a bit of a shake (don't stir) and then place back in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, or until the cream starts to very slightly bubble.
  2. Remove from the microwave and leave to stand for a minute to help the chocolate melt. Stir the cream and chocolate together until a smooth ganache forms. If the ganache splits or looks super oily, then add a couple of tablespoons more cream to the bowl and pop back in the microwave for 15 seconds. Stir again immediately.
  3. Once the ganache is smooth and silky, set aside to cool to room temperature before using in the cake.

For the cherry drizzle:

  1. Place the kirsch and cherry juice into a small bowl and stir together. If you don't want to use kirsch at all (or just don't want to buy any) then you can just use 6 tablespoons of cherry juice instead.

For the whipped cream filling:

  1. Place the double cream and icing sugar into a large bowl and whisk to stiff peaks with an electric hand whisk (or in a stand mixer with the balloon attachment). Be careful not to over whisk - you want the peaks to be stiff, but you don't want the cream to look crumbly.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Ensure you have made all of the parts needed for the cake, and that the cherry filling and ganache have cooled to room temperature, before you begin assembling the cake.
  2. Firstly you are going to cut the sheet cake into three pieces. To do this, you will need to cut out two 6 inch circles using your cake ring as a guide. The rest of the cake scraps will be used to make the bottom layer, so don't eat or throw away yet. Please see photo above for a guide on the best way to cut the sheet cake.
  3. Place the cake ring on to a board, baking sheet, or plate. Line with inside of the cake ring with acetate, taping the ends of the acetate together where they meet.
  4. Using the cake scraps, assemble the bottom layer of the cake inside the cake ring, making sure that the cake is tightly packed and there are no gaps in the layer. Once happy, spoon two tablespoons of the cherry drizzle over this cake layer, trying to make sure the whole cake layer is moist.
  5. Spoon approximately one third of the chocolate ganache onto the cake layer, and spread evenly. Make sure the ganache gets right to the edges of the cake. Spoon half of the cherry filling on top of the ganache and spread out evenly, again making sure to get right up to the edges. Finally, gently spoon half of the whipped cream on top of the cherry layer, spreading out gently to the edges of the cake, trying to avoid mixing with the cherry layer underneath. Try and get the cream layer as flat as possible.
  6. Take a second strip of acetate and gently tuck this between the cake ring and the top 1/4 inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate about 5 inches tall. Tape the ends of the circle together where they meet.
  7. Place one of the cake circles on top of the cream layer, pressing down gently but firmly with your hands. Repeat the process as before, by drizzling two tablespoons of cherry drizzle over the cake, and then adding one third of the ganache, the remaining cherry filling, and the remaining whipped cream. Again, make sure to get each layer of filling right up to the edges of the acetate, and try to make the whipped cream layer as flat as possible.
  8. Place the remaining cake circle on top of the final cream layer, and press down as before. Drizzle the cake circle with the one or two tablespoons of cherry drizzle - don't use it all if you don't think it's needed. Spoon the last third of the ganache on top of the cake and spread out as before - you've done this enough times to know what you're doing by now!
  9. Place the cake (still on the board/plate/sheet) in to the freezer for 12 hours. This will help join all the various cake and filling layers together. You can leave the assembled cake in the freezer for up to two weeks if needed. Once ready to serve, remove from the cake from the freezer, and gently remove the cake ring and acetate from it. Place on to a serving board or stand, and pop in the fridge for four hours to defrost thoroughly. Serve straight from the fridge, topping with a pile of fresh cherries if wanted.


NOTES:

  • The assembled cake can be frozen for up to two weeks - don't remove the acetate or cake ring until you are ready to transfer the cake to the fridge.
  • This cake needs to be stored in the fridge when not serving, and should keep for 2-3 days. It is at its best when eaten on the day of defrosting.