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Black Forest Gateau // 1980s

If you tell us that you don't like Black Forest gateau, we just won't believe you. How could it be possible? Light, creamy, juicy, chocolatey.... all the best words you can used to describe a celebration cake = a Black Forest gateau.
We found this 1980s version in our copy of Hamlyn's The Best of Cooking and it was glorious. The stand out quality of it for us was how quick and easy to prepare it was without scrimping on flavour and aesthetic impressiveness. This is, of course, a massive bonus if you are making it for a party that you want as much time as possible to prepare for (particularly if the party is on the same day that you're making it on).
How would we describe this gateau in one word? Lush.
Original Recipe: 'Black Forest Cherry Cake' (Book 10, 1987)
Speed: 2 hrs | Serves: 8


  • 100g plain chocolate

  • 100g butter

  • 100g sugar

  • 4 eggs

  • 75g ground almonds

  • 50g plain flour

  • 50g cornflour

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 450ml double cream*

  • 0.75kg canned stoned cherries (drained)**

  • 6 tbsp. kirsch

  • 12 glacé cherries

  • Ready-made chocolate shavings/caraque, or about 30g chocolate to make them with

* Cream: Use 650ml double cream instead. This amount won't coat the whole gateau.

** Tinned Cherries: This equates to just under 2 tins of cherries but really, you'll only need 1 tin, if that! Seems like an error to us.



Making the Sponge Cake Layers

1. Melt the 100g plain chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave this to cool a little as you prepare the rest of your sponge layers.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then stir in the ground almonds and melted chocolate.

3. Sieve the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the creamed mixture and fold in, mixing well. Turn the cake batter into 3 greased sandwich tins (ideally 18cm/7inch tins). Bake at 180° C/ 350° F / Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 minutes and once cooked through, turn out upside down onto a wire rack. Sprinkle the sponge cake layers evenly with the kirsch and then leave these to cool down completely.


4. Whip the cream until thick and then sandwich together the sponge layers with the cream and tinned cherries. Be sure to leave enough cream to spread over the sides and top of your cake, and to pipe a border. Coat the gateau as evenly as possible, showing as little of the sponge as you can.


5. Pipe a simple border around the top of the cake and decorate with glacé cherries. Copying the picture provided in our cookbook, we piped 11 (supposed to be 12!) swirls around the top of our gateau and stuck a glacé cherry on top of each one.

6. Spoon chocolate shavings or caraque into the centre of the piped border.

How to make chocolate shavings / chocolate caraque (swirls)

Leave a flat baking tin in the freezer for about half an hour to get nice and cold. Melt your chocolate, then pour it onto the underside of your chilled baking tin and, using a palette knife, spread the chocolate as thinly over it as possible. Wait a few minutes for the chocolate to cool (it will go from shiny to matte) and then scrape it off of the pan using your spatula. A good scrape will make curls, a not so good scrape will make perfectly good chocolate shavings. You can't lose!

Note: We tried to make chocolate caraque, but alas... no luck. The shavings were fine, though ;)


Original Recipes for ‘Black Forest Cherry Cake'

'BOOK 10': The Best of Cooking, 14th Edition (1987)

By: Hamlyn

Publisher: Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited (Bridge House, London Road, Twickenham, Middlesex, England, U.K.)

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