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Black Forest Gateau

GBBO 2016 winner, Candice Brown's triple-layer Black Forest Gateau cake is the ultimate showstopper, complete with Kirsch-soaked cherries and plenty of whipped cream.

From the book

Candice Brown


Retro at its best: rich, dark and moist chocolate sponges with Kirschsoaked cherries and – my Dad’s favourite ingredient – lots and lots of cream. This is a beast of a cake so make it when you want to impress a lot of people. My decorations are just a guideline – you can decorate however you like. Because of the fresh cream the cake is best eaten on the same day, but chances are that once people have a slice it won’t last long anyway.

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400g plain flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
225g golden caster sugar
100g dark soft brown sugar
40g ground almonds
335ml melted coconut oil
4 tbsp golden syrup
335ml whole milk
4 large eggs
For the filling:
400g frozen black cherries, thawed
150ml Kirsch
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
400ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
For the ganache:
200ml double cream
200g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped
For the decoration:
50g milk chocolate
50g white chocolate
100g fresh cherries (with stalks if possible)
50g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Essential kit

You will need: 3 x 20cm round sandwich tins, an electric mixer and a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle.

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Preheat the oven to 160°C fan (180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4). Grease three 20cm round sandwich tins and line with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Stir in both types of sugar and the ground almonds. Make a well in the middle. Pour the melted coconut oil, golden syrup, milk and eggs into the well. Using an electric mixer, beat on low/ medium speed until everything is well combined and smooth.

Divide the mixture equally between the three tins. Bake for 25–30 minutes until the sponges are springy to a light touch in the centre. Cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack. Peel off the lining paper before leaving to cool fully.

To make the filling, put the cherries, Kirsch and sugar into a small saucepan and heat over a low/medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is bubbling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Whip the double cream with the vanilla in a large bowl until just thick. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Keep in the fridge until needed.

For the ganache, pour the cream into a saucepan and heat over a medium heat until small bubbles appear round the edge. Take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate. Leave for 10 minutes before mixing until smooth. Chill to thicken up slightly.

Place the milk and white chocolate in two separate small heatproof bowls and melt in the microwave in 30-second bursts. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper on a baking sheet. Using either a teaspoon, or a small piping bag with a fine nozzle or opening, drizzle/pipe the milk chocolate into various sizes of tree shapes, stars and swirls. They don’t have to be perfect, just shaped. Repeat with the white chocolate. Place the shapes in the fridge to set.

Place one of the cooled sponges on a board or serving plate. Make a few holes in the sponge using a skewer, then spread a third of the black cherry and Kirsch filling over the surface so the liquid seeps into the sponge. Pipe a layer of vanilla cream over the cherries.

Turn a second sponge over and spread a layer of ganache on its base, then place this – ganache-side down – on top of the cherries and cream.

Poke holes in the top of the second sponge, then spread half of the remaining cherry and Kirsch filling over the surface. Pipe a layer of vanilla cream over the cherries. Spread a layer of ganache on the base of the third sponge, then place on top, ganache-side down. Poke holes in this sponge, then drizzle over just the juice from the remaining filling (reserve the cherries). Pipe or spoon little mounds of vanilla cream on the top sponge, in concentric rings, gradually making the cream mounds taller as you get to the centre.

Put the remaining ganache into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe small star shapes in between the cream rings and around the central cream mound. Place the reserved Kirsch-soaked cherries on top of the cream, adding a pile of fresh cherries in the centre. Set a white chocolate shape on each ganache star, grate the dark chocolate all over the top and finish with a dusting of icing sugar (if using).

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