Desserts/ Recipe

Grandma’s Black Forest Cake

I’ve been reading a lot lately on other blogs as to what constitutes “healthy” eating.
While some follow paradigms around “low” fat, “non”-fat, and calorie counting, others define “healthy” by omitting certain things from their diet such as dairy, meat, or even yeast, carbohydrates, or wheat. Still others consider anything healthy as long as it’s natural, real, and “whole” – I tend to subscribe to the latter.
I’m the first person to whack another piece of bacon on my breakfast sandwiches every morning or smear a tablespoon of butter over my cornbread. I’m also the first to volunteer to host a locally made cheese tasting party. Wine is my friend. And I will throw a good hunk of duck fat on my potatoes any day. Mmmm… Duck fat. Heck yes!
I love fat. And fat loves me (particularly my hip and stomach region). We are designed to need fat. Without it we’ll die. Simple as that. And there are even studies that prove a little extra “weight” on your body has serious health benefits – some of which include less risk for osteoporosis, joint protection, and happier hearts. That being said, fat has, in the past few years, become public enemy number 1…. And the “war on fat” began.
In 1910 we consumed an average of 18 pounds per capita; today it’s less than 4. Yet obesity and the chronic health failures that go along with it such as heart disease and stroke are increasing every day. I honestly believe that it’s the “healthicization” of the food industry in combination with a proliferation of processed and refined “foods” in recent history that are to blame for our current dietary problems (in combination with sedentary lifestyles, of course).
Moreover, take a look at the Food Guide Pyramid. Did you know that the people who sit on the board of the pyramid, fund “health” research, and promote “healthy eating” guidelines are often members of big ag industry in fields such as Meat and Dairy? Not only that, but the guide is inherently racist. There are plenty of groups of people who have traditionally not eaten certain things like dairy – therefore their biological systems can’t process the stuff. How racist is it to presume a “white” culture of consumption that mandates everyone must eat X amount of a certain type of food to be “healthy”? 
If we want to be “healthier”eat less processed food. And while you’re at it, simply eat less. When you do eat, stick to whole non-GMO, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, and conscious protein choices such as legumes, nuts, seeds, or grains, and in moderation – ethical meat. Move your body more than you watch television. Go outside. Play. And while you’re at it, slap a tablespoon of butter in your frying pan. Or heck! Live a little and dig out that duck fat. It’s not rocket science. Of course, I’m not a nutritionist.
I’m just sayin’.
I’ve done a pretty good job of eliminating processed foods from my diet for the most part. My one weakness is when it comes to baking. I don’t do a lot of it but when I do, unfortunately I still rely on processed white flours and sugars. 
I’m working on it.
Except of course, when it comes to Grandma’s chocolate cake. 
That’s right. I’m following the above tirade with a recipe for sugar-central chocolate cake. Why would I do that? Three reasons:
  1.  To make sure we don’t romanticize the early days. Just because it was the 1940’s doesn’t mean there wasn’t processed food around. There was – Grandma made cake.
  2. To expose the contradictions and complexities in our eating and living habits. 
  3. To illuminate the fact that even those of us that espouse local, small scale, seasonal, organic, pastured, whole eating still struggle with contemporary lifestyles and the associated convenience “foods” that have made those very same lifestyles possible.  In essence, nobody’s perfect. 
We do what we can, when we can, where we can, how we can. That’s all anyone can ask.
In the meantime though, let us eat cake. We’ll get back to munchin’ kale tomorrow. 

Grandma's Chocolate Cake: Black Forest Style

Yield 1 cake


Ingredients for Black Forest Cake:

  • 1 1/4 C Ice Water.
  • 2 1/4 C White All-Purpose Flour.
  • 1 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda.
  • 1 3/4 C Sugar.
  • 2/3 C Butter, unsalted & at room temperature.
  • 2 Free-Range Organic Eggs, room temperature.
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract.
  • 5 Tbsp Cocoa.
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, melted.

Ingredients for Topping:

  • 1 C Whipping Cream
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract.
  • 2 Tbsp Confectioner's Sugar.
  • Either 2 500ml Cans of Cherry Filling or 3 to 4 C Roasted Grapes.
  • Flaked Chocolate (get the good dark stuff if you can)!


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F & grease & line 2 8X8 spring-based baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the 2/3 C butter and sugar with medium-high powered beaters.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Add the cocoa and melted butter. Combine well.
  6. Now add the floour mixture alternately with the ice water to the creamed mixture by thirds, starting and ending with the flour. Make sure everything is combined before going to the next step.
  7. Pour the mixture evenly between the two pans. Place pans on baking sheets to catch any drips that might occur. Put in the oven and bake 35 to 45 minutes or until the cake slightly pulls away from the sides and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then release the pans. Carefully move each side and then, placing a cooling rack on top of the cake, tip upside down to remove the parchment/bottom. Do this for both cakes. Allow to cool completely.
  9. Topping: Beat the whipping cream at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and confectioner's sugar. Continue whipping for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  10. Position the first cake layer on a serving platter. Spread over the first layer of the cake, followed by your fruit topping. Place the second layer on top and repeat. Top with shaved chocolate.



    March 28, 2012 at 5:59 PM


    Ah, the fat debate. I think it’s silly. But, I can attest to my persona experience of feeling better using Olive Oil and less animal fats in my diet. I think the biggest mistake we make is fighting about one food group. Like you said, it’s really about REAL food:)

    And I wish everyone would listen to their body about what works for them (vegetarian, paleo, etc).

    Sometimes cake can nourish the soul!

    • Kristy Lynn
      March 31, 2012 at 4:14 AM

      absolutely! (to all your above points) – well said!

  • Bridget Hedger
    March 28, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    You couldn’t be more spot on about the food’s crazy! I think the food pyramid is useless, of course I think everyone should get many servings of fruits and veggies and limited sugars and fats..but we all eat the way we want so I better stop now or I’ll go on forever!

    • Kristy Lynn
      March 31, 2012 at 4:14 AM

      it’s one of those topics, isn’t it?

  • Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies
    March 29, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    Oh, girl.

    You had me at cake.

    I totally agree with you about the eating. We eat less fat, yet weigh more than ever. I tend to think of it as a very polished media blitz that started in the 80’s and hasn’t really stopped. Plus, you know, portion sizes have gone way out of control.

    I listen to the guru of non-manufactured food, Mr. Michael Pollan and live my eating life by: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.


    Now let’s have some cake, dammit.

    • Kristy Lynn
      March 31, 2012 at 4:15 AM

      Michael Pollan is my God.

      ….cake is a close second.

  • onceuponarecipe
    March 29, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Love this post (and this cake). I live by an “everything in moderation” philosophy. I try to eat a healthy balanced diet, but I don’t hesitate to indulge (usually on a daily basis). But I’ve also been running my arse off lately, so I kind of feel like the indulging is justified. 😉

    • Kristy Lynn
      March 31, 2012 at 4:15 AM

      totally. indulge friend 🙂

  • Angie {Successful2gether}
    March 29, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    What a great recipe! I think that healthy eating does include an indulgence from time to time 🙂 Keep up the great posts!!

    • Kristy Lynn
      March 31, 2012 at 4:15 AM

      thank you Angie!

  • Katie @ This Chick Cooks
    March 30, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    Ha ha. I agree with you on thinking that the food pyramid is wrong. I feel so much better since adopting a diet of whole foods with plenty of olive oil and butter 🙂 But, all things in moderation and your grandma’s cake looks like it is a special recipe that would be just perfect for rare occasions 🙂

    • Kristy Lynn
      March 31, 2012 at 4:16 AM

      I’m so glad so many of us see through the falsity of the pyramid. Now if only we could convince big ag?

  • Heather
    March 30, 2012 at 4:23 AM

    Love it! Thanks for keeping it real:)

  • France@beyondthepeel
    March 30, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    LOVE It TOO. We have cravings around our house too, and we’re searching for really sugar but don’t have any. So we compromise with the natural stuff, but we use white flour from time to time and other things that most of us following a whole food/real food diet don’t post. But if you’re good 95% percent of the time, a little cake doesn’t hurt. My mom used to make black forest cake for us growing up. It was THE cake for all celebrations and bday. It brings back fond memories….

    • Kristy Lynn
      March 31, 2012 at 4:17 AM

      Thanks France! I think it’s all about balance… especially when certain foods (ie black forest cake) have such meaningful connections.

  • Becky
    March 30, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Everything in moderation, including moderation.

  • Shut Up And Cook
    March 31, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    This looks delicious and I couldn’t agree more with your philosophy of healthy eating. All good things in moderation…and bring on the bacon!

    • Kristy Lynn
      March 31, 2012 at 4:17 AM

      I couldn’t live without bacon 😉

  • Miz Helen
    March 31, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Hi Kristy,
    This is an awesome post! I just love the cake and will be making it soon, it looks delicious. Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

    • Kristy Lynn
      April 5, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      i hope you like it miz helen! 🙂 if you do make it, let me know how it turns out.

  • Sam
    April 5, 2012 at 1:47 AM

    Well, that’s why we bake instead of just buying baked goods, isn’t it? If you have to put the work into it, you don’t indulge quite so often. And you control what goes into it. Looks delicious. 🙂

    • Kristy Lynn
      April 5, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      true that sister.

  • Carole
    April 6, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Nice post. For a bit of light relief you might enjoy this cartoon about the food pyramid.