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Gateaux main
Harry Weir and Brian Clarke

Black Forest Gateaux

This classic recipe is one you need for special occasions.



For the chocolate cake

  • 340g golden caster sugar
  • 340g unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 240g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 100g cocoa

For the filling

  • 2 cans black cherries in syrup
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch

For the icing

  • 600ml double cream
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

To decorate

  • 50g dark chocolate, for shaving


  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3. Lightly butter a 20cm loose-bottomed
    cake tin, then dust with a little plain flour and shake off any excess. Line the tin
    with greaseproof paper.
  2. For the cake, place sugar and butter in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy.
    Beat in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the flour and the cocoa powder.
    Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the surface with a knife
    and bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes, until firm and springy. To
    test if the cake is done, insert a clean skewer into the middle of the cake – if it
    comes out clean then the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and leave to cool
    in the tin for five minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
  3. Drain the cherries, reserving 200ml of the cherry syrup. Add the kirsch to the
    reserved syrup.
  4. Use a large serrated knife to slice the cake horizontally into three equally sized
    rounds. Place each round on a chopping board and spoon the cherry syrup
    evenly over each disc and leave to soak in.
  5. For the icing, heat 200ml of the double cream to scalding point, then add the
    chocolate pieces. Remove from the heat and stir gently until the chocolate is
    melted and smooth. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool in the refrigerator to
    thicken slightly.
  6. Whip the remaining double cream until thick. Spread one of the cake discs with
    half of the cream, then cover with half of the cherries, pressing them in lightly.
    Top with the second disc of sponge and repeat this process, finishing with the
    third disc left plain on top. Gently press the whole cake together with the palms
    of your hands.
  7. Remove the chocolate icing from the fridge and give it a quick stir. Use a palette
    knife to thickly spread the top and sides of the cake with the icing, starting with
    the top first. This way, if the chocolate oozes down the sides of the cake, it won't
    matter. (If preferred you can leave the sides of the cake without icing to show off
    the layers.)
  8. Leave the cake to set in a cool place then slice into large wedges and serve.

TIP: Instead of cutting the cake in half with a knife, which is very messy, use a piece of
regular sewing string, wrapping it around the centre of the cake and pulling it
through. It gives an evenly cut slice every time.