Black Forest Gateau: National British Cherry Day

Monday was National British Cherry Day. Intended to support the declining orchards of what was once a staple national fruit (we now import 95% of cherries!) this is one national awareness day that gets our undivided support. The obvious choice for our weekly recipe is the bakewell tart, which we shared a couple of months back: a true cherry classic!

But we’re going with a real winner here, just as delicious and definitely more spectacular, is the Black Forest Gateau. Viewed as dated by some, it was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by Heston Blumenthal, one of our Food Heroes. If you have three days to spare (seriously!) and a fully equipped kitchen-cum-laboratory, then here’s the recipe and a clip of the great man in action:

But we’re going with a simpler version, much more appropriate for the home cook. As with all our recipes, if you make this, let us know how you got on and send in your pics. And if you have any recipe suggestions or interesting alternatives, please do share!

Black Forest Gateau

NB. Click here for unit conversion.

1x25cm good quality, rich chocolate sponge, cut into 3 discs
250ml double cream
50g caster sugar
250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces

For the filling
Approx 500g good quality bottled or canned morello cherries, drained and juice reserved
50ml kirsch
400ml double cream

To serve
Chocolate shavings


  • Bring the double cream to the boil then remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until dissolved. Leave to cool – but not harden.
  • Whip the cream with the caster sugar to form soft peaks. Lay the three discs of sponge on to a large tray or three plates.
  • Mix the cherry juice with the kirsch and brush generously on to the discs of sponge. Put one disc on a flat cake tray or cake board then spread with half the cream and cover it with half the cherries then lay the second disc on top and repeat with the rest of the cream and cherries. Place the third disc on top and smooth any excess cream around the edges with a spatula.
  • While the chocolate mixture is of a workable consistency, spread smoothly on the tops and sides of the gateau with a spatula, then scatter over chocolate shavings.
  • Leave in a cool place to set, but not the fridge, as the chocolate may pick up a little condensation and it will ruin the presentation. Serve within a few hours.