Chocolate Covered Cherry Bonne Maman Cake
Preheat the oven and prepare the baking pans:
Position the oven racks in the lower and upper third of the oven. Heat the oven to 325°F.
Spray with nonstick cooking oil and then flour (or use a flour-based baking spray) three 9-inch, preferably light colored, heavy NOT nonstick pans. (Do not use dark, nonstick baking pans or ovenproof, Pyrex glass pans; it will result in crusty, dark edges.)
Make the cake batter:
In a medium bowl, after measuring, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir all the ingredients together. Set aside.
Place the 1 cup cherry preserves in a food processor, fitted with a steel blade, and pulse it a few times, to remove and large pieces of fruit.
In a liquid measuring cup or a bowl with a spout, stir in the cherry preserves, lemon peel, vanilla extract to the measured milk and set aside.
Beat the butter with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on low speed until softened. If the butter is cold, it will warm quickly from the beaters.
Add the white sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl. Then add in the brown sugar.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes or until the mixture is light tan in color, aerated and fluffy. Afterwards, stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula.
With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat for 20 seconds after each addition.
After the eggs have been added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat the mixture for ABOUT 1 to 2 minutes. Set the kitchen timer to help you keep track of the time.
With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 equal portions, alternating with the milk / jam mixture in 2 equal portions, beginning and ending with the flour. Add the flour and liquid ingredients in increments quickly; do not wait in between additions too long as you don’t want to overmix the batter.
After completing the last addition of flour, let the mixer run for 30 seconds on LOW. The batter should look mixed. STOP the mixer. Do NOT overmix.
Remove the bowl. With a large rubber spatula, fold to incorporate, including any stray flour or milk left at the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure you do not overbeat the batter. Then, STOP!
Bake and cool the cake layers:
Fill three prepared baking pans (should fill 1/3 full) with one-third of the batter and lightly smooth the tops. (2 9- x 2-inch pans, should fill about 1/2 to 2/3s full).
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (for 3 9- x 2-inch pans; 45 to 50 minutes for 2 9- x 2-inch pans), or until the top feels firm and gives slightly when touched on the top with a cupped hand (will not spring back when touched with a fingertip) and shrinks a little from the sides of the pan – it should also smell done. If you insert a toothpick in the middle and remove, it should have a few moist crumbs attached, but not batter.
Take the cakes immediately from the oven to a wire cake rack and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then unmold onto wire cake racks (set your timer to keep track of the time). Remove the parchment paper, if using. Allow to cool completely before assembling.
Assemble the cake:
The beauty of this cake recipe is that the cake layers bake flat and do not need any trimming. Put one of the cake layers on a cake stand and put 1/3 of the room temperature chocolate glaze in the center of the cake. Spread the glaze with a large offset spatula to the edges of the cake, allowing A FEW drops to flow over the edge. Place the cake in the freezer for about ten minutes to set up the chocolate.
After the chocolate has set, remove the cake from the freezer, and put 1/3 of the SMBC frosting in the center of the layer, spread it to the edges of the cake.
Place the second cake layer on the frosted bottom layer, then add another third of the glaze on the layer and spread the edges of the cake. Place the cake in the freezer until the chocolate has set.
After the chocolate has set, put another third of the cherry frosting in the center of the cake and spread it to the edges of the cake.
Place the third and final layer on the cake. Spread the remaining chocolate glaze on the cake and spread it to the edges, allowing a bit of the glaze to gently flow over the edge of the cake. Place the cake in the freezer until the chocolate has set.
When the chocolate has set, remove the cake from the freezer and spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes so the frosting can firm up a little before adding the final decorations.
Using a drinking glass, mark a circle in the center of the cake to help you place the chocolate covered cherries on top of the cake. Make a ring of 6 chocolate Covered cherries in the center of the cake, using the impressed circle as a guide. Press them gently into the frosting to adhere. Fill the ring with chocolate covered dried cherries, creating a pretty mound of color.
Cakes frosted with SMBC must be refrigerated. Cut into slices, and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Cakes frosted with SMBC must be refrigerated. Will keep a few days refrigerated because of the shelf life of the cake.
Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
The individual cake layers, without frosting, can be stored at room temperature, well wrapped for a day or two, then refrigerate. Freeze for a month or more. Thaw at room temperature