Baking / Free from / gluten-free / vegetarian

Black Forest gateau with meringue mushrooms (GF!)

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For almost five years, my boyfriend has been harassing me (the sentence could end there…) to make him a Black Forest gateau. I have been desperately holding out for a number of reasons, namely:

  1. Black Forest gateau is just too retro (and not in a good way) and should be laid to rest along with maraschino cherries and chocolate sprinkles.
  2. I have an irrational dislike of doing what my boyfriend asks of me.
  3. I don’t really like Black Forest gateau.

**FLASH NEWS** I finally caved last week and feel compelled to blame The Great British Bake Off. This season’s first episode, on which BFG features as the signature bake, appeared to serve as a sore reminder to my boyfriend just how unjust his BFG-less life is. He moped about for a bit. So I relented and made it for his birthday cake. Fair dos.

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My version has all the classic hallmarks of a BFG – chocolate cake, kirsch, morello cherries, whipped cream – but I have still forced my stamp on it and tried to come away with my baking integrity intact: NO glacΓ© cherries, NO chocolate shavings, NO chantilly cream-swamped exterior. Ramp up the booze and the dark chocolate and you’ve got yourself something a little less cloying and a little more adult. It’s still mind-bogglingly rich butΒ hey, it’s meant to be.

The sponge for this is extremely light, fatless and actually gluten-free – it sounds ascetic but believe me, it is the perfect conduit for booze, cream and chocolate, and absorbs all the moisture admirably.

I went the extra mile to create a bit of a showstopper this time by decorating it with some cute meringue mushrooms befitting of any forest floor but you could just top with some fresh cherries if you don’t want to faff about making meringue.

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Black Forest gateau with meringue mushrooms

Ingredients:

Makes one 20cm two-tier cake

For the sponge:

6 large eggs (free-range please), separated
150g golden caster sugar
50g cocoa powder, sifted

For the ganache topping:

80g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
100ml double cream

For the filling:

200ml double cream
2 tablespoons kirsch or maraschino liqueur
180g drained morello cherries, 2 tablespoons syrup reserved
150g morello cherry jam

For the decoration:
chocolate meringue mushrooms (click for my recipe)

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Method:

To make the sponge, preheat your oven to 180Β°C and grease the base and sides, and line the base of two 20cm tins. Tip: I used 23cm tins and it worked fine but I think the cakes would suit being a little plumper.

In a bowl, hand whisk the yolks with the sugar until nice and gloopy. Fold in the cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the whites until stiff peaks form. Tip: Be careful not to over-whisk or the mixture will start to deflate again. Fold this mixture, about a quarter at a time, into the yolk mixture, being careful not to knock out too much air. Gently divide between the two tins, smooth the tops and bake for about 35 minutes, until risen and dry on top. Leave to cool in the tins. Tip: They will sink a bit – stay calm.

Whilst the sponge is baking, make the ganache. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over a low-medium heat until almost simmering. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate pieces and leave undisturbed to melt for a couple of minutes. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool to the desired consistency (thick-ish but still pourable).

To make the filling, whip the cream to soft peaks. Mix the reserved cherry syrup and liqueur together.

Once the cakes are cooled, remove from the tins and drizzle the liqueur mixture over the sponges. You are now ready to assemble! Place one cake on a serving plate. Spread with the whipped cream, then the jam and then arrange the cherries on top of that. Place the second cake on top and spread with the cooling ganache. Tip: You will need to work with the ganache before it cools completely otherwise it will be too stiff to spread easily.

Arrange a handful of meringue mushrooms on top and you’re ready to serve!

Best eaten the same day but will keep in the fridge for a few days (the meringue mushrooms will go soggy if you refrigerate them so harvest these first!).

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Source: Recipe and photos by pip & little blue.

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