A Walk in the Black Forest

Do you remember a couple of years ago, I made a post about what a marvellous bit of kit a deep sided tray bake/roasting tin was? I hope you were paying attention because we’re about to put it to use!

I was doing a bit of research, on Black Forest gateau and nostalgia, and was rather surprised. Apparently it was the desert beloved of ’90s kids’. Well, I thought it was the party dessert beloved of 80s kids; and I daresay 70s kids might have something to say about that! We all have fond memories of a frozen gateau of some kind being whipped out on special occasions.

Schwarzwalder kirsch torte was invented in the first part of the 20th century and named after the alcohol, not the mountain range. Personally, I’ve never understood why it has such a devoted following. But, I’ve never tasted the real thing, and have never been keen on frozen gateaux with soggy crumbs and mushy fruit.

First of all I wanted to have a go at making the real thing, but it seemed a bit of a faff, lots of steps and advanced techniques ( I can do it, I just don’t want to); so, instead here’s a homage to Black Forest gateau that anyone with a roasting tin and a whisk can make in a matter of minutes. You can use cherries in syrup, tinned cherries or even cherry pie filling if that’s all you can get. The cherry liqueur is optional, but does improve the flavour.

Black Forest Pudding serves at least 6

For the chocolate muffin base:

  • 250g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp of cocoa powder (I like Green & Black’s)
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 8 floz buttermilk (or milk, or natural yoghurt)
  • 3 floz vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp cherry liqueur (if you can’t get any, use juice or syrup from the cherries)

For the sauce and toppings:

  • A jar of cherries in kirsch syrup (or alternative)
  • A bar of dark chocolate
  • A jar of cherry conserve or jam
  • 200ml double/whipping/heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • Cherry liqueur (optional)

Method:

Grease and line your tin. A deep sided tray or roasting tin about 30cm x 20cm will do nicely. Or a square casserole dish, or cake tin, would be fine.

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cocoa powder, into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

2. In a separate, smaller bowl, beat together the egg, oil, buttermilk, and liqueur.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir, NOT beat, with a fork until only just combined. Muffin batter does not need to be smooth and aerated like sponge cake batter.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 180c/160 fan/gas mark 4. It will be firm to the touch, and a knife poked in the middle will come out clean.

5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

While it cools down, whip the cream and icing sugar until it’s nice and thick. Chill in the fridge.

6. When the cake has cooled down cut it into chunks. I cut mine into 35 chunks, there’s plenty left to nibble on.

7. Set out your serving dishes. Put a tbsp of syrup/juice/liqueur in the bottom of each dish. Add a heaped teaspoon of cherry conserve to each one and mix well.

8. Using 3 or 4 chunks of cake per person, depending on size and appetite, dip the cut edges in the syrupy jam, and pile into the dish.

9. Top with a generous blob of cream, some grated or chopped chocolate, and some cherries from the jar.