Black Prince Cake
Known in Russia as Black Prince, this is a cake made with lightly moist chocolate sponge layered with sauce that tastes a bit like toffee, and finely chopped or ground nuts. My version also includes sour cherries which makes it similar to Black Forest cake. Black Prince in the Wood if you like J
For the sponge
- 3 medium or 2 large eggs
- 180 g sugar
- 180 g sour cream
- 120 g plain flour
- 2 level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 50-70 g dark or bitter chocolate, grated; or, 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder; or, a mixture of both
- 50 g ground or finely chopped almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
For the sauce
- 400 g tin sweetened condensed milk, boiled (see below for instructions)
- 150 g butter
- 100 g ground or finely chopped nuts
- (Optional) 2-3 teaspoons brandy, cream liqueur or strong sweet wine
- 1-2 handfuls sour cherries, fresh or frozen, stoned
- Some more ground/chopped nuts, and/or nut flakes
- A few cherries, if desired
- Butter-cream icing, if desired
Beat eggs and sugar together until pale and smooth. Switch your mixer to a low speed and add the sour cream in 3-4 increments (or more). Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the flour, fold into the egg mix. Add chocolate/cocoa. Lastly, fold in the nuts.
(NB Most common versions of the recipe don’t include nuts at this stage, but I find that they improve the structure. Made as is, with just 120 g flour, this cake had collapsed on me a couple of times. Adding a little nuts makes sure the cake keeps its shape, yet does not make the sponge denser in the way an equivalent amount of flour would.)
Transfer the batter into a greased cake tin. A springform tin is best, because you’ll be layering the cake in it afterwards. It’s important that the tin is no larger than 18 cm diameter because we want a tall cake. Don’t worry, the batter is too runny to bake to a volcano shape! Mine usually comes out with a perfectly flat top.
Bake at 180 C/350 F for approx. 30-40 min, or until a wooden stick inserted into the middle comes out dry.
Boil the condensed milk. This will need to be done in advance.
Peel any labels off the tin and place it in a saucepan, on its side. Do not open or pierce the tin. Pour in enough water to cover the whole tin + an inch or so. Cover, put on a hob and heat until the water begins to boil. Then turn the heat right down and cook for 1 hr 30 min. Check that the water is bubbling slightly. Don’t worry the tin will not burst AS LONG AS you make sure the water doesn’t boil away.
Allow to cool completely before opening. When ready, boiled condensed milk has a dark caramel colour and a taste very similar to toffee.
Leave butter on the counter until it is room temperature. If you wish to speed up the process, cut into small chunks or slice. Cream the butter with a spoon or mixer on low speed. Add the cooled “toffee” and nuts and beat together until well combined.
Slice the sponge horizontally to make 3 equal size layers. If not using a springform tin, lay two sheets of parchment paper, crosswise, into the tin so you can later lift the cake out by pulling at the ends.
Lay the first piece of sponge into the tin. Place half of the cherries onto the sponge, holes down, so that the juices moisten the sponge rather than make puddles in the sauce. There’s no need to defrost frozen cherries, but if you have, pour the drained juice over the sponge. Spoon the sauce in between and over the cherries. Place the next layer of sponge on the top, then cherries and sauce. Finish with sponge and a layer of sauce, but reserve a couple tablespoons for later.
Take out, carefully lift out of the tin onto a serving plate. Spread the remaining sauce over the sides.
Decorate as you wish, the easiest way to do it is to dust the top and sides with ground nuts. I used some cherries, almond flakes and butter-cream icing (creamed butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder), and dusted the sides with almond powder.
(Please be lenient on my decorating ability, this was only my third ever go with the icing bag!)
I also like this cake with pieces of prune instead of cherries.