RECIPE – Black Forest Gateaux

Nowadays, when you buy a Black Forest Gateaux at the shops, it does not resemble the traditional recipe much.

A proper Black Forest cake should have layers of white & black sponge, sour cherries, cream & chocolate mousse, etc.

Best Black Forest Gateaux I’ve ever had was at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant. You cannot beat that BFG. This recipe is still good, but it’s no Heston. (ED: I have since attempted Heston’s Perfect Black Forest Gaetaux)

This recipe came from SBS Food Safari German food episode with slight modifications – you can find the whole recipe, instructions & video on the SBS site.

Mmm…Tasty Black Forest Gateaux

The layers (Top to bottom):

  1. Chocolate Ganache & other decorations
  2. Chocolate Sponge
  3. Round of chocolate mousse
  4. Butter Sponge
  5. Whipped Cream
  6. Chocolate Sponge
  7. Chocolate Mousse & Sour Cherries
  8. Butter Sponge
  9. Whipped Cream
  10. Chocolate Sponge
  11. Chocolate Mousse & Sour Cherries
  12. Butter Sponge

A bit of overkill? Yes, instead of doing 3 of each sponge layer, I’m sure 2 would work just as well…

Ingredients (In order that they were made):

Butter Sponge:

  • 300g butter
  • 300g sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 300g flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder

Chocolate Sponge:

  • 250g chocolate – broken into pieces
  • 180g butter
  • 6 egg
  • 250g sugar
  • 1.5 cups flour

Chocolate Mousse:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 200 g sugar
  • 100ml milk
  • 150g dark chocolate – broken into small pieces
  • pinch of salt
  • 200ml whipping cream


  • 1 jar of sour cherries (Morello)
  • 1 vanilla bean (substituted with 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Chocolate Ganache (I used another recipe for this & made much more than needed as I was using it for other things – just follow the ratio)

  • 1.4 parts Chocolate
  • 1 part Whipping Cream
  • Optional – A dash of alcohol (Kirsch or if your local bottle-o doesn’t have it, you can use Cointreau/triple sec)

Note: I added the alcohol to the ganache instead of to the cake layers as it’s more kid-friendly (heat of ganache should evaporate most of the alcohol)

Whipped cream layer:

  • 200ml whipping cream which you have whipped


  • Reserve some of the cherries from your syrup mixture
  • Chop some chocolate into forest-like shards
  • Dollop on some leftover whipped cream/etc
  • It’s up to you what you use to make it look pretty


Butter Cake

  1. Cream the butter & the sugar (it’s a GREAT idea to make sure butter is softened to room temperature first – be warned, it will get messy)
  2. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time whilst mixing
  3. Fold in the flour & baking powderNote: Oops, the recipe did say fold in flour but I just beat it in – still turned out fine
  4. Grease/line cake tin with baking paper & bake at 180°C for 55 minutes (mine took a while longer)Note: You only need a circle of baking paper around the base, otherwise the sides of your cake will be crinkled & ugly like mine

Chocolate Sponge

  1. Using a bain-marie (bowl on top of pot of simmering water – make sure the bowl & water are not touching), melt the chocolate & butter & stir until mixed through – set aside to cool
  2. Beat the eggs & sugar together until it has paled & significantly expanded in size
  3. Fold in the flour & cooled chocolate/butter mix
  4. Grease/line cake tin base with baking paper & bake at 180°C for 1 hour (mine took quite a while longer)

Chocolate Mousse –

  1. Beat egg yolks & sugar until stiff
  2. Warm milk gently on low heat on the stove & add in the yolk mixture
  3. Heat on medium until approx 80°C and don’t let it boil – remove from heat
  4. Pour over chopped chocolate & stir until mixed
  5. Add salt & allow to cool
  6. Whip cream & fold into cooled chocolate mixture
  7. Put mousse into a piping back & stick it in the fridge to firm up. I had to improvise for the piping bag…

Cherry layer –

  1. Put all the items EXCEPT the actual cherries in a saucepan & simmer until you have a syrupy consistency
  2. Add cherries & stir until coated

Note: Don’t worry if you have too much syrup, I used this to drizzle over the sponge cake layers instead of Kirsch

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Using a bain-marie (bowl on top of pot of simmering water – make sure the bowl & water are not touching), heat the chocolate & cream & add a dash of alcohol
  2. Mix until combined, don’t forget to taste to see if more alcohol is required. Note: Don’t forget to whip some cream for your whipped cream layer for when you assemble things


  1. Trim your butter/chocolate sponges if required & slice your sponge horizontally depending on how many layers you want to make (we cut the sponges into 3 parts each, 2 would have been enough)Note: My kitchen helper cut the layers unevenly (so I can make it his fault) – I would recommend a little bit more care to make things similar height
  2. Layer a butter sponge slice on your plate & using the chocolate mousse, pipe a ring about 1cm away from the edge and a circle in the middleNote: The chocolate mousse circle in the middle is so when the cake is cut later, there are no cherries there to fall out
  3. Add your cherry layer inside the chocolate mousse wall & drizzle over some syrup
  4. Top with a chocolate sponge layer & cover with whipped cream
  5. Repeat as many times as you’ve decided upon until the last 2 layers
  6. On the final butter sponge layer, do a mousse ring across the whole surface
  7. Top with chocolate sponge layer
  8. Pour over ganache – make it look like it’s dribbling off the cake & delicious
  9. Decorate however you wish
  10. Leave to set for 3-6 hours in the fridge – eat any leftover ganache/mousse/etc while you wait
  11. And then…nom nom nom – chomp it down

Absolutely delicious Black Forest Gateau

A combination of flavours: bitter from the dark chocolate, sour from the cherries, salty from the mousse & of course sweetness from various parts of the cake. 😀

The sponges are quite dense but I actually  like them that way.

Mmmm… chocolatey goodness

This was a wonderful recipe, and I’d be willing to try it again. Maybe I’ll have a go trying to slice the sponge this time round & hopefully the layers will be more even.

If you like this recipe, you may like a few others I’ve tried:


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