Black forest izba cake

Izba cake (Izba is Russian for “cottage”) is a Russian cake made of rolls of pastry stuffed with fruit, typically cherries, that are then layered with cream and allowed to set into a triangular prism shape. The cross section when you cut into it resembles a mini house, which is why it gets that name. It is also called gorka cake, which means “little hill” in Russian. The tubes or rolls of pastry, in my recipe, are made from the same kind of dough that I made my sfogliatelle with, and I decided to take it into an Italian and Austrian direction by imparting black forest cake elements into the dessert entirely. I used kirsch liqueur to rehydrate the dried cherries, activated charcoal to dye my mousse black, just to give another nod to the black forest in a literal sense, and for the chocolate element, I used a chocolate glaze. While I could have made the pastry a chocolate or cocoa based dough, that would have ruined the color contrast of the cross section itself, which was why I opted for a plain colored dough instead.

For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup olive oil + more for brushing
1/2 cup water
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Combine ingredients into a dough, kneading for five minutes, then and allow to sit. Divide the dough into six pieces. Roll each one out to the thinnest setting possible on the pasta roller, dusting with flour each time. Place a line of cherries along the lengths of each pastry, and brush the dough with olive oil. Roll tightly into scrolls and transfer to a baking tray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.

For the cherries:
2 3/4 cups dried cherries
1/4 cup kirsch liqueur
1 2/3 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

Simmer together ingredients on medium low heat until the cherries are plump and the liquid is completely reduced. Cool before using.

For the cream:
2/3 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kirsch liqueur
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon activated charcoal powder
2 tablespoons honey

Whip together ingredients until they are smooth and well-incorporated.

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/4 teaspoons gelatin powder + 2 tablespoons water

Melt bloomed gelatin into heavy cream and butter. Combine with cocoa and chocolate chips and allow the ingredients to melt together on a double boiler. Pass through a strainer to finish. Keep warm until it is time to assemble.

For assembly:
Start by layering the cream over three rolls, then another two rolls, then the last roll. Spread the cream onto the sides of the pastry as well, making sure to use an offset spatula to keep the exterior smooth. Freeze solid. Cut off the end pieces and pour over the glaze to finish.


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