Black Forest Gateau

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Harking back to the 1970s makes one think of a firm favourite of those days, Black Forest Gateau.  It was almost a staple of the diet in those days, served in almost every restaurant. Although it is not so popular these days that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a very tasty dessert.

I took a look around to see what I could find, by way of decent recipes, and found several that I like, but almost all were for round cakes and I wanted to try a square one.  So I took a couple of the recipes and combined the best bits and then converted to fit a 20cm square tin.

Now this recipe is quite fiddly, with lots of different component parts.  But I must say that I think it is worth the time and effort, as the result, even though I am not very good at presentation, is most rewarding.

It also takes a few hours to make, since the cake has to cool completely before slicing.  Also the filling needs to be allowed to cool.  I actually made the filling yesterday, so it was already cool before I started.

Black Forest Gateau
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 140g plain flour
  • 72g cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 120ml crème fraîche
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 150ml cold coffee
  • 60 ml vegetable oil
Cherry Filling:
  • 1 orange
  • 425g can of black cherries
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornflour
Cream Filling:
  • 600ml whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75ml water
  • 4 tablespoons kirsch, or cherry brandy
  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • icing sugar, for sprinkling if you wish.
  1. Preheat your oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3
  2. Grease a 20cm deep square cake tin, and line the bottom with baking paper.
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. 
  4. Whisk the crème fraîche with the eggs, milk and cold coffee until well combined. 
  5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. 
  6. Mix just until a smooth batter is formed. 
  7. Add the vegetable oil and whisk again to combine.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake springs back when gently pressed with your finger and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. 
  9. Leave in the tin for at least 5 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Make the cherry filling(you can do this the day before and refrigerate).
  11. Peel the zest from the orange. 
  12. Drain the juice from the cherries into a pan and add the sugar, the juice from the orange, the orange zest and the cinnamon stick. 
  13. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. 
  14. Remove from the heat, leave to stand for 5 minutes, then take out the cinnamon stick and orange zest. 
  15. Mix the cornflour with a little cold water in a bowl. Pour the boiled juice on to the cornflour, whisk to combine, then return to the pan.
  16. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 3–4 minutes, whisking continuously. Add the drained cherries, turn the mixture into a clean bowl and leave to cool. Make sure the cherries are completely cold before assembling the cake.  Also make sure that the mixture is thick and glutinous.  You dont want it too wet.
  17. For the syrup, put the sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the kirsch, then leave to cool.
  18. To assemble the cake, cut it horizontally into 3 layers, set the base on a cake card and, using a pastry brush, brush it with the kirsch syrup. You don’t have to use all the syrup, you dont want to make the cake so wet that it falls apart.
  19. Spread the base with a 0.5cm layer of whipped cream.  
  20. Cover with half of the thickened cherries. 
  21. Place another layer of sponge on top and repeat the process. 
  22. Top with the final layer of sponge and press down gently to level the cake if necessary. 
  23. Cover the top with the remaining cream and refrigerate.
  24. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bain marie(double boiler) Pour the chocolate on to a marble slab and quickly spread it with a palette knife to level it out as thinly as you can. As soon as the chocolate has set, take a large chopping knife and, holding it at a 45-degree angle, push at the chocolate in an upward motion to make chocolate curls. It really does not matter if they are all sorts of shapes and sizes. If the chocolate breaks, it is because it has become too cold. Just scrape if off the marble, re-melt and try again.
  25. Haphazardly arrange the chocolate on the top of the gateau and keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve it.

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