I was really happy with how this gluten free Black Forest gateau turned out. The original recipe I used came from the BBC Good Food website. And like with so many standard recipes, with just a few tweaks and ingredient checks, it was possible to make it completely gluten free.
Black Forest gateau was pretty much a staple at our delightful family buffets back in the day. But they tended to be shop bought versions, not homemade – unlike most of the other gorgeous goodies that adorned the buffet table.
This extravagant three-tiered soft chocolate sponge cake, filled with fresh cream, cherry compote and crowned with delicious rich chocolate ganache is a proper showstopper and is sure to impress your friends and family when presented to them. I got myself so giddy with the finished result of this bake and took a ridiculous number of pictures to try and get it’s ‘best side’.
Ingredients (serves 8-10)
For the cake
175g (6oz) butter, cubed
75g (3oz) *dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300g (11oz) gluten free self-raising flour (check flour contains xanthan gum if it doesn’t add ½ teaspoon)
375g (13oz) golden caster sugar
25g (1oz) *cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon *bicarbonate soda
2 large beaten eggs
200g (7oz) buttermilk
100ml boiling water
For the filling
400ml double cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons cherry *compote or jam (I used Bonne Maman)
4 tablespoons brandy or Kirsch (optional – use more syrup from the cherries if you prefer the cake to be alcohol free)
2 tablespoons juice from the tinned cherries
For the ganache
150ml double cream
150g (5oz) *dark chocolate, broken into pieces
425g tin pitted cherries (you will need about 16 cherries to decorate the cake – the remaining ones could be dotted amongst the cherry compote when you assemble the gateau)
Remaining whipped double cream
Grated *chocolate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4/160C Fan.
Butter three 20cm sandwich tins and line the base of each one with a disk of greaseproof paper.
Gently melt the butter and chocolate in a pan over a low heat. Give it a good mix to blend together.
In a large bowl, blend together the gluten free flour, bicarb, cocoa powder and sugar. Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter.
Add the melted chocolate and butter, beaten egg and buttermilk to the dry ingredients and mix well with a large spoon.
Pour in the boiling water and give the mixture a really good whisk with an electric or hand whisk until you have a smooth batter.
Divide the mixture evenly between the three prepared tins. I found it worked well using a large metal spoon to portion it out.
Pop the tins into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cakes have risen and feel firm but springy when gently pressed in the centre. I have a fan oven and the cakes all baked at the same time. They may take varying times to cook should you not have a fan oven.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in their tins.
For the ganache: Pour the cream into a pan and add the broken chocolate chunks. Allow the chocolate to slowly melt over a low heat and then briskly whisk until the ganache is smooth and nice and glossy. Set to once side to cool.
For the filing: Pour the cream into a large bowl and add the icing sugar. With an electric mixer, whisk until soft peaks form. Watch you don’t over whisk the cream, as you will lose the velvety texture you’re after.
To assemble the cake: I found it best to turn the cakes out of their tins as I required them, as it meant I was only handling them once. And I used the one that had a few more cracks in it for my base layer. Place the first layer of sponge upside down onto a serving plate.
Mix the brandy and cherry juice together and then with a pastry brush, brush half of the mixture over sponge.
Spoon over a heaped tablespoon of cherry compote and spread evenly out over the sponge, finish this layer with a good helping of whipped cream and again even it out ready for the next layer.
Repeat this exact process with the next layer (reserve enough cream to pipe on top of the gateau, if that’s your plan), before placing the final layer of sponge on top. Again, upside down, so you have a nice flat surface to pour your ganache over.
Pour over the ganache and at this point it’s up to you whether you want to aim for a perfectly smooth top and use a palette knife to achieve this or go a bit rustic (as I did) and use the back of a spoon to swirl the ganache around.
Fill a piping bag (ideally fitted with a star nozzle) with the remaining whipped cream and pipe rosettes around the cake. Top each rosette with a cherry.
And then grate over a little extra chocolate if you like.
Recipe notes and suggestions:
The gateau will be at it’s best the day you make it. If you are not tucking into the it straight away, you will need to carefully cover it with foil and pop it into the fridge for safe keeping.
As always, all the recipes I share with you are designed to inspire and fill your head with ideas of how you may like to make things in your own way. This Black Forest gateau recipe is no exception. So, should you want to add more cream, compote, alcohol or switch any of the fillings, you go for it. It’s your own special creation, so do as you wish.
Top tip: I always thought ganache was a proper tricky thing to make, but it’s so easy, and such a great topping for so many deserts. I learnt this great tip (from Nigella Lawson) that you can make any amount of ganache you like, by simply using equal grammes of chocolate to ml’s of double cream. So, no complicated recipe required for this yummy treat!
*Double check this ingredient to ensure it has no gluten containing ingredients, ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable warnings’. If in doubt leave it out.