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Chocolate Cherry Celebration Cake // 1950s

Updated: May 5, 2020

This pretty little 1950s 'Chocolate Cherry Gateau' was made for Mr. HD's birthday; a man who appreciates the combination of cherries and chocolate. The style of decoration, though not quite as impressive as the example photo provided in the cookbook (our piping needs a bit of practice!) is by itself very '50s and very pretty.
While not unpleasant, the cake was slightly too sweet for our liking although it is likely that this would be much helped by an accompanying cup of tea or coffee rather than eating a slice straight up as we did!
Original Recipe: 'Chocolate Cherry Gateau' (Book 7, 1959)
Speed: 2½-3 hours* | Makes: About 6 servings

* As for all fancy celebration foods, set aside as much time as possible to make this cake. It is best to make the cake the day before the party/event and leave it in the fridge until an hour before the celebration.



For the Sponge Cake

  • 226g butter or margarine

  • 226g caster sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 284g plain flour

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 3 tbsps. cocoa powder

  • Milk to mix

For the Vanilla, Cherry and Chocolate Buttercream

  • 250g butter or margarine

  • 380g icing sugar

  • 56g glacé cherries, chopped

  • Around 10 glacé cherry halves

  • 28g dark chocolate, melted

Note: The original recipe was limited in information regarding the amount of butter or icing sugar to use for the buttercream. We used the amounts proposed in our list, above.



1. Pre-heat oven to 190°C fan (374°F/Gas Mark 5).

2. Line a bread tin (base measuring about 7½ x 3½ inches) with greaseproof paper.

3. Cream fat and sugar and then beat in the eggs, one at a time.

4. Sieve the dry ingredients and gradually fold into the mixture until fully combined. Mix in a little milk to achieve a soft dropping consistency.

5. Put the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake until completely cooked through (about 30 minutes). Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

6. As the cake cools, make the buttercream icing. Start by creaming the butter/margarine so that it is soft, and then mix in the sifted icing sugar a few tablespoonfuls at a time. If the mixture becomes too thick and therefore difficult to pipe, mix in a little milk until you achieve a perfect coating and piping consistency. Finally, mix in 1 drop of vanilla essence.

7. Divide the buttercream into three equal parts, leaving one plain. To make the chocolate buttercream, mix the melted dark chocolate into one third.

8. To make the cherry buttercream, mix the chopped glacé cherries into another third.

9. When the cake is cold, trim off the sloping sides and level the top and cut into four equal layers.

10. Fix each layer together with cherry buttercream, then spread the plain vanilla buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.

11. Decorate with chocolate buttercream using a writing pipe and star pipe (we only used a star pipe as we couldn't find our writing pipe!).

12. Lastly, put some halved cherries in place along the sides and top to decorate. We needed 10; 4 for the top and 3 on each.

13. If this is to be a birthday cake, top with candles or even a figurine. We made our cake the evening before the celebration, keeping it in the fridge overnight to maintain the icing.


Original Recipe for: 'Chocolate Cherry Gateau'

'BOOK 7': Good Housekeeping’s Cookery Compendium (1959)

Authors: The Good Housekeeping Institute

Publisher: The National Magazine Co. Ltd. And printed by Letterpress by Sun Printers Ltd. (Watford, England, U.K.)

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