When it comes to baking showstopper cakes I turn to Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food cookbook. Do you remember the Hummingbird Cake I made for my birthday in January? It was just as beautiful as it was delicious to eat! A few weeks ago I was looking for summer cake ideas for my baking club (Band of Bakers) for which I wanted to use cherries which are ripe and lovely at this time of the year.
The Black Forest Gâteau was exactly what I was looking for to create a beautiful cake that would stands out on a dessert table.
A Black Forest Gâteau is a German layered cake (its original name is Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) made with chocolate, rich cream, cherries and kirsch – a clear brandy traditionally made from double distillation of morello cherries.
What I love about Jamie Oliver’s recipe is the soft and rich chocolate sponge, so good that I will use the same recipe to make a simple chocolate cake in the future.
The traditional way of preparing a Black Forest Cake is to stack up two or three sponge cakes with layers of whipped cream and sweet black cherries (or sour cherries). This cake is meant to have rich flavours and an alcohol punch, but it shouldn’t be too sweet. In Jamie’s recipe there is an extra layer of chocolate ganache with roasted hazelnuts scattered over it, though they are not required in a traditional Black Forest cake.
I didn’t use kirsch at all, but I later found a recipe that substitutes liquor with cherry juice, so that’s an idea if you want to keep your cake alcohol-free. Also, Jamie’s recipe listed “cherry pie filling” as one of the ingredients, but I replaced it with a few tablespoons of Morello Cherry Conserve.
Here is my adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s black forest cake recipe:
For the sponge
For the filling and topping
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Grease and line two 23cm round cake tins.
Break the chocolate into a small pan over low heat, add the butter, milk and a pinch of salt. Stir the ingredients until they are melted, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl, then beat in the eggs one by one. Add the yoghurt to the chocolate mixture, then stir that into the egg mixture.
Divide the cake batter into the cake tins and bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until cooked through. Leave the cake to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool down completely.
To make the ganache, mix 240ml of cream and kirsch in a small pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the chocolate and whisk until you get a smooth cream.
In the large bowl of a food processor, mix the remaining cream (240ml) with sifted icing sugar. Whisk to soft peaks and leave in the fridge until needed.
To build the cake, brush the base sponge with a few tablespoons of jam, then spread over the chocolate ganache and half of the whipped cream using a spatula. Place the remaining sponge on top, then pipe on the rest of the cream. Decorate with fresh cherries and chocolate shavings.
Keep the cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.