What does a forest taste like?

Okay, so this is probably a weird inquiry, but I can’t seem to stop trying to figure it out. I want to figure out how to make a cake with flavours that make you think “dark, misty forest” when you eat it. Basically, if Heston Blumenthal was trying to recreate the Black Forest cake to capture more of the essence of the Black Forest, what would he make? Im thinking along the lines of maybe blackberry, plum, clove, nutmeg, juniper, hazelnut, bergamot tea, thyme, maybe make a spruce tip syrup? Maybe some kind of alcohol that boasts of mossy, oaky notes? I think the main flavours I gotta hit are like dark and deep, mossy, woody, resinous. Can I make a cake that tastes like wet decomposing leaves and pine sap and have it actually taste good??? This is what I need to discover. Any tips at all would be appreciated.

Mossyone
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8 Comments

Miss_Karen October 9, 2021
You can't eat pine products (except pine nuts). It can't even be used for things like cutting boards. The oils in pine are toxic for food.
Maybe some sandalwood powder (food grade) it's sort of like cinnamon -really earthy. There is a certain je ne sais quoi about it. It's brick color.
Maybe Sumac? As a spice...
There are also some liqueurs available that have herbal sort of flavors but off the top of my head, I can't remember what they are called. Google 'herbal liqueurs.'
I recently made black garlic pinwheel cookies. 🙂
 
Mossyone October 9, 2021
Wow, I’m getting some really good ideas here! Thank you all, and I will do some experiments
 
Miss_Karen October 9, 2021
Juniper berries (gin) black garlic (earthy/sweet) honey(sweet)
Make a paste from the black garlic give it a bit of lemon zest. Use this as your filling. Perhaps use bran for your cake base (as part of the flour mix?) Make a glaze from steeped juniper berries and water with powdered sugar... this is as far as my tired brain gets regarding this cake.
Too weird for words.
 
drbabs October 9, 2021
I love this question, too. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I love playing with spices also, but never would have thought of this.
I think the cake itself should be very moist, and I remembered these recipes that you could use as a base.
https://food52.com/recipes/39601-laurie-colwin-s-damp-gingerbread
https://food52.com/recipes/20091-nigella-lawson-s-dense-chocolate-loaf-cake
Before you start ordering a bunch of syrups, I’d suggest trying what you have. Rosemary could evoke pine and cedar. Maybe some finely ground dehydrated mushrooms? Also, if it’s legal where you are, cannabis could give you some earthy notes as well. Try grinding your herbs all up together and really smelling them to make sure that’s the sensation you’re going for before baking it. I’d stick to no more than two or three things so the flavors and aromas don’t get muddied. I like chocolate for its natural bitterness, but you could also use the gingerbread base and get that bitterness from molasses. Good luck! Please let us know what happens.
 
Nancy October 8, 2021
Mossyone - As aargersi says, very interesting ideas and project/
A few ideas, product suggestions.
The traditional Black Forest cake has cherries and cherry spirits (kirschwasser), so maybe some of that as fruit.
There are various (newish) tree syrups on the Canadian market and maybe elsewhere...not just maple, but maybe pine and birch. Hard to find and expensive, but maybe worth it. See if you can find one or more of those.
Pierre Herme in his recipe for Pain d'epices calls for fir, pine or forest honey.
Any honey from bees near evergreens.
Like your suggestions of bergamot, spruce and juniper
Would truffle oil or truffles work, or be discordance? Other fungus?
Good luck on ideas and the cake itself. Please let us know your results.
 
Nancy October 8, 2021
Oak. No food products made from it that I know of. But plenty of wine (fresh and fortified) and whisky aged in it.
 
Nancy October 9, 2021
Mossyone - really your idea. Only fully noticed it when I was re-reading the question.
 
aargersi October 8, 2021
I honestly think you’ve already come up with more answers than I could ever think of, but I love this question so much! You know who needs to chime in? Fiveandspice - I feel like this is her wheelhouse - maybe message her?
 
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