A Black Forest gateau is one of my favourite cakes ever: liqueur-soaked cherries and dark chocolate make a fabulous combination anyhow, but when layered with cream and a light sponge you get a very special dessert cake. Granted, to echo the sublime Victoria Wood’s description of it, a Black Forest Gateau really is just cake in drag, but the kitsch kirschiness of it all makes it into such a fabulous drag act!
Rather than the spiralling of the sponge that I have gone for here when assembling this cake (which is fun to do!) you can instead make several thin circles of sponge from the mixture and layer these up, sandwiching them between the cream mixture.
For alternative flavoured gateaux, use raspberries, strawberries, passionfruit, lemon curd….
Kirsch-laden Morello Cherries!
I use dried Morello cherries here and soak them in a fair bit of Kirsch for about a week or so: they plump up wonderfully as they absorb a lot of the Kirsch. The cherries also work wonderfully with rum or Amaretto in place of the Kirsch.
I also love to use these boozy cherries in my twist on pains au chocolat.
Most of the soaked cherries are chopped and mixed with cream for the filling. A little grated chocolate adds just a little chocolate flavour to the filling without over-powering it, although the real chocolate hit comes from the ganache covering.
Crisp, boozy chocolate cherry balls
The remaining cherries can be dipped in tempered dark chocolate, which I have done here, left to set and then drizzled with tempered milk chocolate (purely for a slight colour variation on the cake!).
Once you bite through the crisp chocolate covered cherries they literally explode Kirsch in your mouth and you then get that intense cherry flavour: a ridiculously more-ish sweet in its own right!
This adds a lovely subtle caramelised flavour to the cream which works so well with the chocolate. It is simply granulated sugar heated in a pan, shaken from time to time until it melts. This is then brought to the boil and it boils until deep golden brown. This caramel is poured onto a silicon sheet, left to cool, and then blitzed to a fine powder. It melts into the cream as it is being whisked up, giving that lovely flavour.
Black Forest Gateau: makes one 8″ cake
Chocolate whisked sponge:
- I use the recipe at the bottom of my post here, omitting the butter and replacing 40g of the flour with 40g of the cocoa powder
- a few tablespoons of Kirsch to brush over the baked sponges
Cherries, cream and chocolate mixture:
- 300ml double cream
- 3 teaspoons caramelised sugar (see above)
- about 200g dried Morello cherries, see above
- about 50g dark chocolate, finely grated
- 150g double cream
- 250g best quality dark chocolate, about 70% cocoa solids, chopped small
- several Kirsch-soaked Morello cherries dipped in dark chocolate and left to set
- dark chocolate curls or grated dark chocolate
Tins: two 8″ round tins and one large rectangular swiss roll tin (about 25cm by 40cm)
You will also need acetate (or greaseproof) and, ideally, an expandable metal ring
(1) When the sponge mixture has been made, divide it between the three tins. Bake for about 10 minutes until well risen and just starting to shrink away from the edges. Leave to cool in the tin and turn out onto greaseproof that has been sprinkled with sugar.
(2) Brush the Kirsch liberally over the sponges. Mix some of the cream with the chocolate and the cherries and spread the rectangular sponge with this mixture. Cut the rectangular sponge lengthwise into 5 strips and roll one up, like a Swiss roll. Spread a little of the cream over the two round sponges, and sprinkle over a little of the grated chocolate.
(3) Spread a little of the cream over the two round sponges, and sprinkle over a little of the grated chocolate. Place one of the round cakes onto a cake board or a plate, cream-side up, and place the rolled up piece of sponge in the centre. Wrap each of the 4 remaining strips around, one at a time, cream side facing inwards so that the each strip sticks against the inner piece of sponge. Don’t worry about any of the sponge breaking as it will be fine once the finished cake is cut.
(4) Use strips of acetate or greaseproof around the cake and place an expandable metal ring around it, contracting the ring enough so that the sponge is firmly in place. Place the remaining cake disc on top, cream-side down, pat down lightly and spread over a little of the remaining cream thinly on top. It won’t look great at the moment but it will get covered with ganache: the cream allows the ganache to stick to the cake properly. If you haven’t got an expandable metal ring, you can gently put the cake into a deeper 7″ round loose-bottomed cake tin, lined with acetate: it will be a tight fit, which is what you want.
(5) Chill for about an hour: the chilling ensures the cake will hold its shape when the ring is removed and the acetate ensures the cake won’t stick to the ring when it is removed. Remove the metal ring and lightly spread the remaining cream around the sides.
(6) Make the ganache: put the chocolate in a small bowl and pour over the boiling cream. Stir well until the chocolate has melted completely and you have a smooth, shiny mixture. Leave to cool and firm up just a little and pour it over the cake, letting it cascade slowly down the sides and then using a palette knife to smooth off the sides. The top can be smoothed, swirled with the palette knife or just left rough. Leave it to set at room temperature to retain the gloss.
(7) Decorate in any way you want: I have used chocolate-coated Kirsch Morello cherries and a few tempered dark chocolate curls.