So good I had to come back and review it. I made this over the weekend for 8 people, and it turned out stunning (and giant--8 of us got about 2/3 of the way through). It gets better every day it sits, so I'm enjoying eating the leftovers. The espresso in the buttercream is wonderful, and the whipped cream frosting is tasty, but not loaded with sugar, making this a very well-balanced cake. I had to use sweet cherries instead of sour, and brandy instead of kirsch, and I can only imagine how much better it would be with the right ingredients(great for an adult palate, not a sugar bomb!). Here's some tips on what I did. *Plan ahead. The more you space this out, the better. Follow the directions--soak the cherries for at least a day before you make the cake itself (especially if you are making a sub. for the kirsch). Assemble the cake (everything bu tthe whipped cream frosting) at least a day (preferably 2) before to let it soak--it makes a huge difference. *BIGGEST TIP: Someone else had their cake split, and I think I know what happened. Because this is a three layer cake, the layers need to be VERY even, or the center will be higher than the sides, putting stress on the middle of the cake and causing it to split (especially since this soaks in liquid). Make sure you level your cake before layering. Then, make sure you arrange your cherries in an even layer (on the cut side) across the entirety of the cake (all the way to the side)--don't just spread them around willy-nilly to be roughly equal. Someone suggested using a thick line of buttercream at the edges to keep the cherries from squeezing out, but the cherries aren't cooked, and if you arrange them with the cudge edge down, they'll be very sturdy and supportive of the cake. The cherries, not the buttercream, are the support! I had some issue with my second layer, where the sides were starting to droop and crack, and I ended up filling the gap between the two cake layers with extra cherries and the excess cake from the domed tops of each layer, which worked okay. The third layer, i put the cherries in concentric circles all the way out to the edge, and had no issue. *I used Betty Crocker Devils Food cake mix (2). I was making homemade buttercream AND whipped cream frosting, I had no interest in making sponge cake too. It turned out well (but I'd recommend baking a bit longer than recomennded on the box to get it dry enough to absorb all the kirsch). I had fresh sweet cherries available, but next time I would love to try the sour to better balance the cake. *Kirsch was $35, and unless I'm making this weekly (thinking about it, that good), I have no other use for it, so I used plain brandy and pureed some of the extra cherries. Next time, I would take the brandy, add about 5 pureed cherries, and add some pits to soak for a few days to make a more biting substitute. *Like others, I thought the buttercream filling was too sweet. Next time, less sugar, but it was already too thin as in to pipe well. I would chill it next time, then pipe, though. *The whipped cream frosting made the perfect amount with 2 cups of cream--it covered my entire cake, plus about 1 cup extra. Didn't use the dry milk, made no difference.
Made this cake for DH's birthday, and will do it again soon - I am just looking for an excuse to make the cake again. It is delicious (please see how I rate)! I will cut down on the sugar added to the cherries, perhaps 1/2 cup will be enough (1 cup was definitively too sweet), but that depends on cherries - I will try to use frozen black cherries and adjust the flavor by trial and error (I prefer when the cherry filling is a bit tart). Another change I will try is to fold in 1 cup of sour cream into the whipping cream (at least, that is what I've had before and it was an excellent cake). Really superb cake with little effort, thank you for sharing the recipe.
Not rating it because my whipped cream icing sugar obviously came out too runny because everything is oozing out of my cake and I couldn't possibly pipe it. I'll try another time adding more icing sugar and review then. For now my husband will have to live with an oozy 40th birthday cake. :P (ETA: I definately used too much whipped cream, hence my problem. Everyone loves the cake anyway!)
DH is a big cherry fan and he loved this cake. I made a few minor adjustments such as using 1 tsp Almond Extract in place of the vanilla. I also made more of a filling instead of whipped cream. I took one small box of instant vanilla pudding and beat it with 2 cups of cold heavy cream. I got that from 1Steve (from this site) and it's a great idea. It holds up very well and is thicker than just whipped cream. I placed a layer of cherry filling then the vanilla filling on top. I didn't use whipped cream on the side, but just used a chocolate icing instead - it was great!
I made it again, and knowing what to do, and planning the decorating better, I got a much better cake. All I can say is that the cherry mix goes on first, then the cream, and ontop, no cream!!!
Great tasting cake and surprisingly not that difficult to make. I tried using the pastry bag for piping but with the whip cream it didn't seem to work very well (I just may be too inexperienced with decorating). I decorated the top with a few maraschino cherries. Any secrets as to how to do the crumbs on the side without messing up the whipped cream or making a huge mess would be nice ;). Dispite this, really tasty and nice presentation.