Black Forest Gateau

Black Forest Gateau tends to be a rarity: they aren’t featured heavily on restaurant dessert menus and you’ll be lucky to come across one displayed at bakery. “Safe” isn’t exactly the word I’d use to describe it as a dessert for a standard crowd – the Black Forest Gateau knows who to please and how. For those who appreciate the tart sweetness of the kirsch-infused cherries cutting through the layers of fresh, whipped cream and rich chocolate sponge, the Black Forest Gateau is a spectacular treat for the tastebuds.

My dad rarely made this cake, but when he had the odd order I’d always hope he’d make a bit extra. And lucky for me, he always did.


Serves 10-12.

Part 1: Chocolate sponge

This can be made up to 3 days in advance – wrap in saran wrap and store in the fridge.


1 Egg yolk

120g Sugar

30g Cocoa powder

120g AP flour

¼ tsp Baking soda

10g Melted butter, cooled.

½ cap Vanilla flavouring

  1. Set oven at 175⁰C/350⁰F
  2. Grease a 9” tin, then lightly coat with flour. Shake any excess out.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolk and sugar with a hand mixer until the mixture doubles in volume, and forms a thick mixture. The more air that is beat into the eggs will help make the sponge rise.
  4. Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking soda together.
  5. Slowly fold the flour into the egg mixture until just incorporated. Careful of over mixing here as it could deflate the eggs.
  6. Take the melted butter and slowly pour it in, while folding, add half a cap of vanilla flavouring and keep folding until incorporated in.
  7. Pour mixture into your greased tin and place within centre of oven to bake for 40-50 minutes.
  8. You may need to turn the tin 20-30 minutes in depending how even the baking is. To check if the sponge is ready, use a sharp knife, or toothpick, and stick it in the middle of the sponge. If it comes out clean it’s ready.
  9. Set aside and cool.This can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge.


Part 2: Cherry filling

For the cherry filling, homemade is always best (I’ve used frozen, but canned is also possible).

900g Sour cherries, frozen

¼ cup Sugar

½ lemon Zest, and juice

½ orange Zest, and juice

2 tbsp Corn flour

2 caps Kirsch

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sour cherries, sugar and lemon zest and juice. Squeeze in the orange and drop it in the saucepan. Add about ¼ cup of water (if the sour cherry juice hasn’t melted yet) and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Mix corn flour with a touch of water to dissolve and slowly pour into the boiling cherry mixture, stirring as you pour.
  3. Allow cherry filling to thicken until it almost reaches a consistency similar to thick gravy (it will thicken up once cooled).
  4. Set aside to cool, then mix in 2 caps of kirsch.




Part 3: Assembly

3 tbsp Sugar

¼ cup Hot boiled water

2 cap Kirsch

850mL Whipping cream (or 600mL whipping cream and 250mL fresh double cream)

75g Dark chocolate

  1. Dissolve the sugar with boiling water in a small bowl or cup, set aside and once cool, mix in the caps of kirsch and set aside.
  2. Take the chocolate sponge and horizontally slice off 0.5cm of the top to remove the top coating. Slice remainder of the sponge cake horizontally into 3 equal, level layers. These should be about 1.5cm thick. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric/hand mixer, whip the whipping cream until softly whipped.
  4. Take the bottom layer of sponge and lightly brush the sugar-kirsch syrup on to moisten the surface.
  5. Spread an even layer of fresh cream on top, about 0.5cm thick. Take a handful of the cherry topping and gently squeeze to remove excess liquid. Spread the cherries evenly on the surface.
  6. Spread a layer of fresh cream on top of the cherries until they are just covered.
  7. Place the next layer of sponge on top and repeat steps 4-6 until you have 2 cream layers sandwiched between the sponges.
  8. Use the remainder of the whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake – also known as masking.
  9. Place the cake in the fridge to rest. Meanwhile, break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water (a bain marie) until fully melted.
  10. To make the chocolate trees, create a piping bag out of parchment paper (or if you’re lazy, use a ziplock bag), cutting the end off so that it’s the same size as a ballpoint pen.
  11. The best way to create these chocolate trees is to cut out strips of parchment paper, slightly higher than your cake this will make it easier when it comes to sticking these on.
  12. Pipe the chocolate trees as you wish and place on a tray in the fridge for approximately 5 minutes, or until they have started to solidify. Remember – the thinner the more delicate they will be!
  13. Carefully stick the sheets of parchment paper trees on the side of your cake and place as you wish.
  14. Place back in the fridge for at least 15 minutes or until solid. Carefully remove the parchment paper from the trees – peel back slowly, it will help prevent any breakages.

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