Black forest gateau

Black forest gateau inside

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’ve been a bit slack recently when it comes to blogging, but be assured that the baking certainly hasn’t suffered because I’ve been busy. Just the writing about it. So what better way to return to the blog than with a gateau…gateaux…gattoe…a black forest gateau to be precise. Is there any other kind?

Dictionary definitions of a gateau include a cake or pastry, especially a light one filled with custard, fruit, or nuts…an elaborate cake, usually layered with cream and richly decorated…a very rich, fancy cake, especially one with cream in it. I like to describe a gateau as a cake I want to put my face in.

With this recipe you’ll want to do just that. It has multiple layers of sponge, but not just any old sponge. This is the lightest sponge I have ever made. So light that it was actually quite difficult to cut in half because it was so delicate. Each layer of sponge is filled with double cream and cherries, then topped with chocolate and more cherries. It’s more time consuming than technical, but a pretty good way to spend your time I say.

Black forest gateau Mum bday 2013 (1)


For the cake:

  • 75g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 eggs

For the filling and topping:

  • 75-90ml Kirsch (cherry liqueur) – I didn’t have any so I used raspberry liqueur instead (Chambord), but the gateau would work without it
  • 600ml double cream
  • 425g can black cherries, drained, pitted and chopped – fresh or frozen ones would work too

For the decoration:

  • 225g plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • cherries


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking paper.
  • Melt the butter over a low heat and leave to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk for about ten minutes, or until the mixture is thick and pale and leaves a trail when the beaters are lifted.
  • Sift together the flour and cocoa powder, then sift again into the whisked mixture. This helps make it really light. Fold in gently using a metal spoon.
  • Add the cooled, melted butter and fold in gently.
  • Divide the batter between the tins and make sure it’s level. Bake for 30 minutes until the sponges are springy to touch. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Peel off the baking paper.
  • Cut each cake in half horizontally. This was the tricky bit! Then sprinkle each layer evenly with liqueur.
  • Whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks. Transfer two thirds of the cream to another bowl and stir in the chopped cherries.
  • Now you can start assembling the gateau. Place a layer of cake on a serving plate, spread one third of the filling on top, add another sponge and continue layering finishing with cake on the top. Use the remaining whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with chocolate curls and cherries.

How to make the chocolate curls…

  • Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water.
  • Spread the melted chocolate onto a baking sheet and put it in the fridge until it sets.
  • Using a sharp knife, scrape along the surface of the set chocolate to make thin curled shavings




Chocolate hazelnut cake

I baked this because I really wanted to eat a chocolate cake. A pretty sound reason if you ask me. Light chocolate sponge topped off with layers of chocolate ganache with lots of hazelnuts throughout and sweet sticky hazelnuts on top. Mmmmmm. I shared it with people at work, so that I didn’t eat the whole thing. Because I could have. It went down pretty well if I do say so myself. It involved a slightly different to normal method of making a sponge, whisking egg whites until stiff (which always makes me sigh a little bit when I see that in a recipe), melting chocolate (but that’s always fun) and making ganache, but it is definitely worth it and this is what you’ll get…


Here’s what you’ll need and how to do it (including a few little tips)…


For the cake:

  • 70g whole hazelnuts
  • 175g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
  • 175g butter, diced
  • 4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the ganache:

  • 150ml cream
  • 225g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Recipe said 1 tbsp cognac, but I didn’t have any so used brandy instead

For the topping:

  • 50g sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 100g roasted whole hazelnuts (I used pre-chopped ones)

How to bake it:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/Gas 6 and lightly grease the cake tin. The recipe said to use a 10″ cake tin, but I used an 8″ one (square shaped and loose bottomed… what a rebel).
  • Lightly toast the 70g of whole hazelnuts in a frying pan (no oil needed) until you can smell them and set aside to cool. Grind them down until finely ground (I didn’t have a snazzy food processor so used ones of those things called a knife, and chopped them).
  • To make the cake, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the butter.
  • Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until the mixture is very creamy. I used a hand-held electric whisk.
  • In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they are stiff (egg whites are the divas of the baking world and will need to be mixed in a glass or stainless steel bowl not a plastic one. Never a plastic one for egg whites). Again, the electric whisk was handy here.
  • Mix together the flour, salt, hazelnuts you have just roasted and the baking powder.
  • Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, then add the flour mixture and beaten egg whites, and carefully fold them in.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean). Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin.
  • For the ganache, put the cream into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Boil it for one minute then remove it from the heat.
  • Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it has melted. Stir in the butter and cognac/brandy and leave it to cool and thicken. Whisk the ganache lightly.
  • Once the cake is cool take it out of the tin and spread the ganache all over the top and the sides. (I improvised with my own cake decorating turntable – although it didn’t turn – and kept the cake on the bottom of the cake tin, having removed the sides of the tin, and balanced it on a largeish plastic container so that it was raised, which made it easier to spread the ganache around it. You’ll need to taste the ganache throughout this process, just to make sure it’s okay of course.)
  • For the topping, put the sugar in a pan and melt it over a low heat, without stirring. Add the butter and stir until it is a light brown colour. Add the hazelnuts, stir briefly and scatter all over the top of the cake. Leave to cool completely.
  • EAT IT! With cream or ice-cream for extra yumminess.

(recipe courtesy of Cake Decorating, issue number 25)




Tiramisu (decaff!)

For the pregnant, breastfeeding, or those of you with a nervous disposition, I present a decaff Tiramisu. This was a request from my breastfeeding buddy. T’su is her fave, caffeine, however, is not. Easy you say. Just swop to decaff coffee. Well yes, it really is that easy. BUT, it’s hard to find decaff espresso. And even harder if you don’t have a cafetiere. Which I don’t. I found the decaff eventually in some obscure unknown shop called Tesco, ahem. I steeped the espresso in hot water and strained through a sieve lined with kitchen roll. But even though I had let it infuse for ages, the coffee flavour really wasn’t that strong. So in the end I just used instant. It tasted stronger and was less of a faff. I guess if I made t’su regularly I would consider investing in a cafetiere, but I don’t, and I rarely drink coffee. So there.


I took the recipe from Carluccio and adapted it a bit. I’ve made his before and he does it for individual portions. I do it in a massive dish so it requires more of the mascarpone mix than he suggests (which you can never have enough of quite frankly). He uses espresso, like I said I used instant. For 400ml of water I added about 2 heaped tablespoons of coffee. I guess you could add more to taste. I tasted it… it was bitter… like nothing I’ve ever tasted before… I will never attempt to taste such strong coffee again. I have to admit, there wasn’t a very strong coffee flavour in the end. I guess that’s why espresso is used. You win some etc etc.

My buddy was most pleased with her decaff t’su. Especially as I covered it in glitter (any opportunity to cover food in glitter and I do it). Whilst scoffing I heard lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and ‘mmmm’s’. So I think I did my job well. In fact I know i did, for I was making those noises too.


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Few drops of good vanilla essence
  • 500g mascarpone cheese
  • 100ml single cream
  • 400ml strong coffee
  • 4 tbsp Kahlua or Tia Maria
  • Savoyard biscuits (or ladies fingers) (orig recipe says to use 18, I used about 30!)
  • Some bitter cocoa powder, to dust


  • In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks, 80g of the caster sugar and the vanilla essence together.
  • In a second larger bowl, mix the mascarpone with the cream to make it thinner. Mix the mascarpone with the egg. Should the mixture be too dense, add a few drops of milk.
  • Mix the coffee, chosen liqueur and remaining caster sugar together in a third bowl. Dip the biscuits briefly into the coffee, I used tongs (don’t let them absorb too much liquid), and use to line a dish. Mine was about 15 x 20cm. Put in a thin layer of the mascarpone mixture, then top with some more biscuits, finishing with a thick mascarpone layer on top.
  • Chill until ready to serve, preferably overnight. Dust with a little cocoa powder just before serving. Otherwise it goes all wet looking.

P.S. You will notice the photo is of an individual portion and I have been waffling on about using a large dish. Well as I was transporting the tiramisu some distance I constructed it in tupperware. Tupperware does not make for an attractive photo… So I made a small individual one to look pretty for the blog. And it also meant I could have a cheeky taste of it!

Sasa x



Lemon panna cotta

lemon panna cotta

I had never even tried a panna cotta before but was asked to make one by a couple i know so jumped at the chance. I am now converted. They are simply scrumptious. I made the sugar decoration just for texture (and some added snazz) and the berry compote to cut through the lemon of the PC. Before making all this I knew I wanted the sugar decoration so decided I should put some practice in. I went for the dome shape thinking to place it over the PC. It went really well, see:

spun sugar

I was all prepared to create it again for my friends. However after a few glasses of wine, I just wasn’t getting it right. I guess also constant nattering whilst trying to make said sugar didn’t really help. The consistency was all wrong. In the end I just poured it onto a board and dragged a fork through it to make random shapes. I think you’ll agree it turned out rather nice in the end! The compote complimented the panna cotta so well. The textures all worked together fantastically. I really couldn’t have been more pleased (smug) about this dessert. Will definitely make it again.

I got the panna cotta recipe from the BBC Good Food website:


  • 3 leaves of gelatine (see tip at bottom of page)
  • 600ml double cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 200g caster sugar
  • zest and juice 2 lemons
  • zest 1 lime


  • For the panna cotta, put 6 small pudding moulds (about 120ml each) on a baking tray. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of very cold water (see tip, below) and set aside.
  • Put the cream, milk and sugar into a large pan and bring slowly to the boil. When the cream is boiling, add the lemon juice and the lemon and lime zest and whisk well. Simmer for a few mins until reduced slightly, then turn off the heat.
  • Scoop the softened gelatine out of the water and squeeze off any excess water. Stir into the hot cream, leave until just warm, then strain the cream into a jug. Carefully pour the mix into the moulds and place in the fridge for at least 5 hrs until completely set – overnight is ideal.
  • To unmould the panna cottas, run the tip of a knife around the edge of the mould. Dip the mould briefly into hot water until the filling just comes away from the sides. Use your fingers to gently loosen the panna cotta away from the edges of the mould. When you are confident that it will turn out, reverse the mould onto a serving plate and gently lift off, releasing the contents.

For the sugar I looked on youtube. The compote I made myself. I bought a bag of frozen mixed berries and cooked them down with sugar which I gradually added until it tasted right.

Sasa x