August 29, 2018


black forest

I have made more chocolate cakes than usual this year, for reasons that completely escape me.  Which is no bad thing because you can’t beat a nice chocolate cake and in fact for virtually a whole decade (in my thirties) the only two cakes I made regularly were a chocolate cake (for birthdays and other occasions) and the annual Christmas cake. 

I look back on those years now with amazement.  How can my life have been so dull that only an occasional chocolate cake ever graced my table?  I do know the answer of course, I was busy doing other stuff, and dull it certainly wasn’t, working full time and scuba diving when I wasn’t working.  Looking back I can hardly think it was really me that did all that.  Now that I am retired I can hardly remember ever going to work, as if it was a bad dream for forty years.  As for scuba diving, I wonder who that woman was that I used to be, that lived and breathed underwater swimming for nearly fifteen years.  Crikey.  How things change.  I gave up sub aqua when I reached forty and took up motorcycling instead.  Now I bake and still ride my Harley.  Hey ho.

I made this cake for the very last Loire Valley CCC meeting where the theme was European cakes.  I had been hankering after making a Black Forest Gateau for a while, having a fascination for things retro, and this was the perfect opportunity to get it out of my system.

black forest2

The recipe comes from one of my favourite cook books, “Gorgeous Cakes” by Annie Bell.  I have made several cakes from this book, all have been a great success and turned out more or less as they should have.  You can’t expect more than that from any cook book I think.

This one is described as a Black Forest Victoria and is a variation on the famous sponge cake recipe.  It was very good.  I filled it with cherry jam and cream, plus a few black cherries (from a tin) between the layers of sponge.  I decorated it with a few fresh cherries from our own cherry tree in our French garden and added a few chocolate coated raspberries just because I had the packet open.  I will be making it again – probably for dessert when we have prawn cocktail for starters and chicken chasseur for mains.


225g unsalted butter

200g golden caster sugar

1 tblsp golden syrup

200 self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

25g cocoa, sifted

4 eggs

100ml milk

For the filling

3-4 tblsp cherry jam

1 tblsp Kirsch

350 ml double cream

1 tin black cherries

2 tblsp grated dark chocolate

a few fresh cherries


Preheat the oven to 190°C / 170° fan / gas mk 5.  Butter and line the bases of 3 18cm sandwich tins.

Put all the cake ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth and well blended.  Divide the mixture equally between the three tins and bake for 20-30 minutes until done.  Remove the cakes from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

For the filling, blend the jam with the Kirsch and set aside.  Whisk the cream until spreadable (not too stiff).

Spread one of the cooled cakes generously with cherry jam and then with half of the whipped cream.  Push a few black cherries into the cream and put another cake on top.  Repeat and add the last cake.  Spread it thinly with cherry jam and sprinkle the grated chocolate over the top.  Add a few fresh cherries and other suitable decorations as you like.

Keep in the fridge and bring up to room temperature before serving.

Cuts into 8-10 slices.


  1. Isn't it interesting how life goes in phases. For all of my 20s and 30s I sewed -- art textiles, costume, my own clothes. I haven't touched a sewing machine for 20 years and on one level I miss it. I'm always startled when people I've met in that last 20 years have no idea I had another life. Curiously, sewing replaced insects. I've always cooked throughout my life, and the insects are back. Interesting. There doesn't seem to be any special trigger, one just finds it happening.

  2. That's a cake with a great retro flavour and I reckon that can only be a very good thing. I've been reviving one or two recipes from black forest days recently with mixed but interesting results. In my 30s I became oddly obsessed with tracking down and baking recipes for apple cakes (as well as having far too much of a good time, of course). Since I retired I probably bake a lot less because I have less time of my own. Oh well, c'est la guerre.