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Black Forest Gateau

Updated: May 9, 2023

by Delia Smith from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course (BBC/Penguin Books)

This is wickedly rich but not heavy at all. I think it makes a really lovely birthday cake for someone special.


6 large eggs

150g (5oz) caster sugar

50g (2oz) cocoa powder, sieved

275ml (½ pint) double cream

1 level tbsp caster sugar

450g / 1lb tin (or jar) pitted morello cherries

50g (2 oz) plain (dark) chocolate

1 or 2 tbsp kirsch (or rum, or cherry brandy)


Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Two 20cm / 8 in sandwich tins, oiled with groundnut oil and the bases lined with greaseproof paper, also oiled.

Start off by separating the eggs and placing the whites in a clean, grease-free bowl. Put the yolks in another bowl and whisk them with the caster sugar until they just begin to pale and thicken (be careful not to thicken them too much though). Now fold in the sieved cocoa powder.

Next, with a clean whisk beat the whites until stiff but not too dry. Stir a heaped tablespoon of the egg white into the cocoa mixture to loosen it a little bit. Then, using a metal spoon, then carefully fold in the rest of the whipped egg-white (trying not to lose any air).

Divide the mixture equally in the prepared sandwich tins and bake them near the centre of the oven for about 15-20 minutes. They won’t appear to be cooked exactly, just set and slightly puffy, and when they’re taken out of the oven they will shrink (but that’s normal). Leave the cakes to cook in the tins, but turn them out while they’re still faintly warm and strip off the base papers.

Now whip the cream with the tablespoon of caster sugar until it is a floppy, spreadable consistency. Next empty the tin of cherries into a sieve set over a bowl and combine 2 tablespoons of the juice with the kirsch or rum. Sprinkle this over the cake layers and, using a palette knife, spread about a third of the whipped cream over one cake.

Then slice the cherries and de-pip them (if they have any pips). Leave about a dozen whole ones for the decoration. Now arrange the sliced cherries all over the cake, spread with cream. Next, carefully place the other cake on top and cover the entire cake with the remaining cream, again using the palette knife. Finish off by arranging the whole cherries around the edge, then grate the chocolate and sprinkle it all over.

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