Friday, 5 April 2013

Recipe: Black Forest Gateau

It's snowing, in April. As large snowflakes, big as tissues, fell yesterday at a blizzarding rate, I needed comfort, a reminder of childhood skiing holidays (as an adult I can't afford them). I loved the food we had when skiing: gluwein; frankfurters, sauerkraut and mash with yellow Austrian mustard; raclette and cheese fondue and hot frothy chocolate drinks. I wanted to make something that suggested snow ploughing between pine trees, forests and frost.
I had recently been sent some early cherries, called 'Glamour', from a grower, Mr Ortiz, from a farm in Lleida, Spain. Unusually these cherries are available in March and April. It's a good name for this fruit, as there is something both pristine and pornographic about the cherry. This led me inevitably to baking a Black Forest Gateau, a notorious relic from dinner party menus of the 70s but actually dating from the 1930s. The Black Forest Gateau cake is rather more 'Cabaret' and Liza , all sheer dark stockings with glossy red lipstick, than sweet trollies in suburban restaurants and Alison Steadman in Abigail's Party. 

Recipe for Black Forest Gateau:

You'll need two 8 inch sandwich tins, buttered up to the edges and lightly floured. Lined with baking paper if you wish. 

Cake bit:
80g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
280g caster sugar
3 tsps baking powder
2 pinches of salt
240ml whole milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Decoration and filling:
I jar of black cherries in kirsch (cherry liqueur), drained, kirsch set aside
2 punnets of cherries (Glamour are available at M & S, Harrods, high end food shops)
600 ml of double cream, whisked or 150g of double cream whisked with a large tub of CoYo coconut yoghurt. This made for a slightly exotic flavour. 
2 tablespoons of icing sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 170cº.
  • Prepare the cake tins by greasing and flouring.
  • In a stand mixer, or by hand in a bowl, beat the butter until smooth, pale and fluffy.
  • Add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt into the stand mixer or a bowl and beat together until combined.
  • Whisk the milk, egg, vanilla extract together then pour half into the flour mixture, beat together, then add the second half.
  • Keep scraping the sides down yeah?

  • Tip half the mixture into each sandwich tin. It doesn't matter if it's not smooth, I  rather like the uneven 'mountainous' look for this cake. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes in 160c degree conventional oven.
  • In Aga I baked for 20- 25 minutes in the bottom shelf of the baking oven. I found they rose better without the cool shelf. If you have a 2 oven, use the hot oven with the cool shelf.
  • Check they are done by sticking in a clean metal probe, if it comes out clean, they are done
  • Place on a wire rack to cool
  • Prod with the probe to make holes all over the cake, pour Kirsch cherry liqueur or the liquid from the black cherries, all over the holes. About 4 tablespoons per cake.
  • Whip the cream into soft peaks
  • Place the first cake on a plate and ladle 1/3 of the cream onto the base, leaving a border all around so that it doesn't squirt everywhere when you put the top on.
  • Add half the cherries from the black cherries in Kirsch
  • Place the top cake on, ladle on the rest of the cream.
  • Add the rest of the black cherries in Kirsch
  • Add the punnets of fresh cherries, stud them in the cream and stack them artfully in a pyramid shape on top. You want a look of tumbling plentitude.
  • Dust with icing sugar in a tea strainer.


  1. That looks incredible! The poor BFG still has such a bad image, but it really is sublime made properly.

  2. Blissfully, stupendously gorgeous. And I love the idea of snowflakes as big as tissues. Thank you.

  3. Thank you!
    Those snowflakes were crazy big!

  4. All I can say is, FOOD PORN! That is so sexy!

  5. Wow, wow, WOW! How gorgeous! I can almost taste it from those beautiful pictures.

  6. Looks amazing! Where did you purchase the Kirsch from?

  7. Thanks guys!
    Bethan: I think you can buy kirsch from many places now, many supermarkets etc. Always useful to have a bottle in the cupboard for things like this and cheese fondues.
    But for this cake I used the kirsch juice from the black cherries.

  8. Every year for his birthday the spouse requests as his present a variation on black forrest- last year it was as a tart, with a pimped up ice cream. But I think the original is still the best- and this one looks particularly sublime.

  9. Oh my who could resist this. How good do those cherries on the top look. This is on list for next weekend!


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