Another year, another birthday, another cold! It was inevitable that I would get sick just in time for Lucy’s birthday party, as I’ve done many years previously. However, that didn’t stop me from treating my lady to a nice celebration! This year, Lucy requested that I make butter tarts and a black forest gateau, and I feel confident that I rose to the challenge. 🙂 I’ve shared my butter tart recipe previously, which is an old family recipe.
For birthday cakes in years past, see:
- Honey Butter Birthday Cake
- Creamsicle Cake
- Black Forest Gateau
- And the OG raspberry chocolate cake that started this blog.
How did the cake turn out?
For the black forest cake, I wanted to make one that was alcohol-free, and not too complicated because I didn’t have the stamina to make an intricate 4-layer masterpiece. Nonetheless, this cake turned out really well and is the perfect option if you want an easy recipe for black forest gateau. My only disappointment is that I couldn’t find sour cherries in syrup, only dark cherries. They were still nice, but if you can find them, the tanginess of sour cherries is better!
History of the Black Forest Gateau
Lucy asked me why Brits call it a Black Forest “gateau”, whereas North Americans call it a “cake”. I guessed that it had to do with Britain borrowing lots of French words, particularly when nouveau cuisine was fashionable, and I was sort of correct. Black Forest gateau became popular in the 1970s and 80s in the UK, but if were being technical about it, a gateau is a layered cake that usually has fruit topping.
Of course, you can make yours authentic by using kirch a.k.a Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser (the alcohol named after the Black Forest), but I think this alcohol-free version is still deliciously moist.
Recipe is adapted from Art of Palate. I chose to use fresh cherries on top, rather than maraschino.
- 1 ¾ cups plain flour
- ¾ cup dark cocoa powder
- 1 ¾ cups white sugar
- 1 ½ tsps. baking powder
- 1 ½ tsps. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsps. vanilla
- 1 cup boiling water
- 500ml whipping cream
- Dark chocolate shavings
- 1 tin dark cherries in syrup * sour cherries if you can get them
- Fresh cherries for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 8-inch round baking tins. I use reusable liners.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes.
- Carefully add the boiling water and stir well. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Cakes will rise so ensure there is enough room between oven racks! Cook for 10 minutes before cooling completely on wire racks.
- Level the cakes so that the sponge is exposed (and eat the tasty cake bits!).
- Chill the whipping cream and the bowl, then beat on high until stiff peaks form.
- Spoon syrup from cherries onto both tiers of cake, about 5 tbsp. per layer.
- Spread a generous layer of whipped cream on the bottom layer and cover with the tinned cherries.
- Add the top layer of cake, and spoon on more whipped cream. Level the cream.
- Top with fresh cherries and chocolate shavings.
- Store in the fridge!