Black forest sponge

I really, really like black forest gateaux. My better half, however, doesn’t – which is probably why I’ve never attempted to make it (that, and the fact that I also have a three-year-old to look after, as well as a day job – and there’s only so many hours in the day, y’know).

Anyway, the no-time-for-fiddly-arsed-cakes rule came to an end the other week, when a slice of Black Forest from Oxford’s Patisserie Valerie proved to be – to put it mildly – a great disappointment. It looked very nice in the window, of course, which is what tempted me in the first place. But when it came to eating it? The sponge was stale, the cream was over-whipped, the chocolate wasn’t great… At a three quid a pop, it was also bloody great rip-off – and I was left feeling (a) slightly affronted that I’d forked out good money for something so crap, and (b) hungry for something which tasted as good as the cake I’d been looking forward to while I was queuing up for it.

Anyway, when I got home a few days later, I decided to sate my unsatisfied hankering, and also try my hand at something that even my boyfriend would like. My idea was that if you made dark, chocolately sponge and then simply sandwiched it with some great dollops of jersey cream and black cherry jam – then you’d get all of the taste of the traditional gateaux, with none of the kitsch or hassle (not, I have to say, that kitsch bothers me all that much – or even at all, in fact).

The result, anyway… was delicious. So delicious, that even Sam and my fussy toddler loved it – and deemed it worthy of a post, here.

For the cake:

175g butter, good and soft
3 eggs
175g caster sugar
175g self-raising flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased

For the filling:

Half a jar of a decent quality jam (mixed up with a couple of tablespoons of kirsch, if you fancy something more boozy)
125 ml (or more) of Jersey cream

First, pre-heat your oven to 170C. Then, for the cake, cream your sugar and butter until they’re light and fluffy. After this, add the three eggs, one at a time, whisking further until the mixture leaves a nice trail when you raise your whisk (this should take around five minutes or so, with an electric whisk). Fold the flour into the mixture, followed by the cocoa and baking powder. Finally, stir in the vanilla extract, and divide the mixture between the two tins. Bake in the oven for around thirty minutes, or until a skewer or knife comes out clean. When your cakes are done remove from the oven and place on wire racks to cool.

While your cakes are cooling, whip the Jersey cream until it’s nice and thick. When they’re still lukewarm (but not hot; this way you get something delicious and oozing, rather than something that dribbles incontinently), sandwich the two halves together with the jam and cream.


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