Black Forest Gateau with chocolate cherry mirror glaze (Gluten-free)

My current version of Black Forest Gateau, or “cake in drag” as Victoria Wood so deliciously put it, is way over-the-top for sure in terms of the adult flavours…..but I make no apologies for that, as it is an adult dessert cake!

I have made and posted about Black Forest Gateau before, and each time I make one I like to vary it a little. Sometimes I make it look very retro, decorated with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and bright red cherries.

This time I went for a gluten-free version – and as I have said in previous posts, a gluten-free bake really should taste just a divine as a non-gluten-free bake. I also went for a less kitsch look, although there are treats within:

  • the sponge layers are liberally doused with the Kirsch that the cherries have been macerating in*;
  • the filling is a sour cherry and Kirsch ganache with whipped vanilla cream;
  • the cake is surrounded by tempered dark chocolate cherry panels;
  • the cake is topped with chocolate cherry mirror glaze

Getting ahead:

As with many of my bakes that involve several components, most of the components can be made ahead:

  • the sponge can be frozen in advance;
  • the chocolate panels can be made a week or more in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge;
  • the ganache can be made a few days in advance and beaten just enough to loosen it up before using;

*Macerated dried cherries & the most fabulous liqueur

I use dried cherries a LOT in my baking. Their sharpness is terrific with the sweetness of a cake and the luxuriousness of good quality chocolate.

Although I sometimes use these straight out of the packet in brownies and the like, I have two jars full of dried cherries that are macerating: one in Kirsch, the other in Amaretto. I simply take what I need in a recipe and top up with more liqueur and dried cherries as and when.

The liqueur takes on the cherry flavour, becoming more intensely cherry flavoured. It is excellent sprinkled over and in cakes, as I have done here. In this recipe I have also added some of it to flavour the ganache with a little of the liqueur also added to the mirror glaze.

Recipe: Black Forest Gateau – serves 14-16

Chocolate sponge:

  • 8 eggs at room temperature
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 170g gluten-free plain flour
  • 70g cocoa powder
  • 40g unsalted butter, melted
  • several tablespoons of the Kirsch from the macerated cherries

Cherry ganache:

  • 70g macerated dried cherries with 3 tablespoons of its juice, puréed or finely chopped
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100ml double cream

Chocolate cherry panels:

  • 2 100g bars Lindt dark chocolate & cherry, melted or tempered

Chocolate cherry mirror glaze:

  • 150ml double cream
  • 100ml water
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 3 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes and squeezed
  • 50ml Kirsch from the macerated cherries

Cream filling:

  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon best quality vanilla extract, optional

To finish:

  • fresh cherries
  • edible gold dust, optional

(1) Make the sponge: preheat the oven to 170C(fan) and line three rectangular cake tins (just over 30cm by 14cm) with greaseproof. Alternatively use small swiss roll tins or even circular tins (about 23cm diameter)

(2) Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light, moussey and thick. It should hold its shape easily. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together and fold carefully into the egg mixture, using about a third at a time. There should be no pockets of flour in the mixture. Slowly pour the melted butter down one side of the bowl and fold in until there are no streaks of butter visible.

(3) Pour the mixture into the tins and level. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and just starting to shrink from the sides. Leave to cool in the tin before inverting, removing the greaseproof and trimming to about 30cm by 14cm. Spoon over the Kirsch liberally and set aside until needed.

(4) Make the ganache: put the cream in a small pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir well until melted and mix in the cherries and the Kirsch. Cover and leave until cool and firmer.

(5) Make the cream filling: whisk the cream with the sugar and the vanilla until thick enough to easily hold its shape fully: you want it firmer rather than floppy. Set aside until needed.

(6) Make the chocolate panels: spread the melted chocolate thinly over acetate or greaseproof paper. Leave to set and carefully peel off the greaseproof. Cut into rectangular panels, using a knife dipped in hot water to give clean cuts. Alternatively, snap the re-set chocolate into random shards.

(7) Make the mirror glaze: put the cream, water, sugar and cocoa powder into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring all the time. Bring to the boil and let it simmer gently for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and strain into a bowl.

(8) Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and stir 2.5 sheets into the mixture until the gelatine has completely dissolved. Mix the other half sheet of gelatine into the warm Kirsch in a small container. Leave both to cool completely: they should be slightly thickened but not set. You can either mix these two together to give a cherry mirror glaze or leave separate (see step 10 below). Meanwhile assemble the layers:


(9) Layer up the gateau with sponge, cream and ganache and half of the macerated cherries. Place the next sponge layer on top and press down gently. Repeat. Lay the final sponge on top, press down gently. Mix the remaining cream and ganache together and spread the top and sides of the cake thinly with this.

(10) Pour the cooled chocolate mirror glaze slowly over the top: don’t worry if some of it drips down the sides. Run a palette knife quickly over the top to smooth it out if needed, although it should flatten by itself. If you kept the cherry jelly mixture separate from the chocolate glaze earlier, you can dot some of this jelly over the top of the glaze either randomly or more deliberately. Either leave it to slightly run into the glaze or gently run a cocktail stick through it.

(11) Place the chocolate panels around the sides, overlapping slightly: the cream and dripped-down glaze on the sizes will ensure the chocolate panels stick to the cake. Top with fresh cherries and using a fine brush, gently cascade some gold dust over the surface. Return to the fridge until the top is set and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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