My dad has his birthday on Dec. 24, and though many people assume he gets stiffed with his day occurring in the midst of the biggest holiday of the year, the guy is actually spoiled freakin' rotten! We always have a great meal and I always make a special cake as per his request. The traditional meal for Dad's birthday is his favourite dish ever, Steak & Kidney Pie. Can we all say "yuck"? Yeah. We all detest it, but Dad's very British and this is our family tradition. I always associate raw kidneys with Christmas, because growing up when my parents were still married, my mom would buy a kidney from the butcher and soak it in the dishpan in the kitchen. It would ooze..."fluids." It was disgusting.
Now the pie is generally made by my SIL Shan and Dad gets the kidney. Here is a post from a couple of years ago about the making of the pie, including some detailed shots of Shan chopping the kidney up. This year, she couldn't do it. She just didn't have it in her, she told me. So she had my brother Jem do the chopping, and because kidney stinks like nothing you've ever smelled before, the filling for the pie was cooked entirely outside of the house: the kidneys were grilled on the BBQ and then combined with the other filling ingredients in a slow cooker that was placed in the far reaches of their garage.
Shan makes a great meat pie. This year, she did steak & kidney Guinness Pie for Dad and just a Steak & Guinness Pie for the rest of us. Our pie was great; Dad loved his version, too, and had plenty of leftovers to enjoy, too.
Here is Dad's pie, complete with his initials so there is absolutely no confusion about which pie is which!
And here is our pie, followed by a shot of the interior, and it was delicious. Shan knows how to make a mean meat pie, I can tell you that!
Now onto a more pleasant topic, Dad's cake! He requested a Black Forest Cake, and that's what he got. I made the cherry filling from scratch and it was absolutely amazing! I had wanted to get frozen cherries from the States, but bringing stone fruits, including cherries, across the border isn't allowed, and although I didn't know if that meant only fresh cherries and not frozen, I wasn't willing to take the chance, so I instead used a 720mL jar of sour cherries in juice purchased from LOGS (local overpriced grocery store).
Here is what I did. I didn't measure anything - sorry! Also, I had wanted to use kirsch as is traditional, however it's way too expensive for my modest budget and there weren't any minis available. So I used rum and it worked great.
Sour Cherry Filling
- 1 jar (720mL) sour cherries, strained, juice reserved
- a bit of sugar until I felt the sweetness was right, but not too sweet
- some cornstarch mixed with the reserved juice
- generous amount of amber rum, again to taste
- boil cherries & half of the reserved juice & add sugar to taste. With remaining cherry juice, add some corn starch & mix to dissolve. Add slurry to boiling cherries until desired consistency. You don't want it too liquidy but not too solid either as it will thicken as it cools. When desired consistency is reached, throw in some rum and combine. Let cool.
For the cake, I used my go-to cake recipe and baked it in a bundt pan. Because the dinner was being held in another town, I assembled the cake there for easy travel.
I cut the bundt in half lengthwise and spread in the filling, and then I put the top half back on. At this point, I kept things simple: I sliced & served with generous dollops of whipped cream.
It was a hit!