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By Eric Lanlard (photos by Kate Whitaker). Published by Mitchell Beazley, 2013.


What can I tell you? I love chocolate; I love Eric Lanlard: this book was just meant for me. And, I can't help feeling, for you, too. I drooled over every page, but in the end, after much gratifying deliberation, I settled on this retrofabulous recipe. You know it makes sense.


Proper Black Forest Gateau

I know this cake has got a bit of a kitsch reputation but when done properly it is extremely delicious and light, and will take you on a trip down memory lane.

Serves 10
Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking time: 30–35 minutes

150g (5oz) block of dark chocolate
3 tbsp raspberry preserve
40 black cherries, pitted (or tinned cherries, drained)
icing sugar, for dusting

For the sponge
150g (5oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g (8oz) golden caster sugar
50g (2oz) cocoa powder
100g (3½oz) plain flour

For the syrup
200ml (7fl oz) water
175g (6oz) golden caster sugar
2 tbsp kirsch

For the kirsch cream
750ml (1¼ pints) whipping cream
75g (3oz) golden caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp kirsch

First make the sponge. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C)/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease 3 x 22cm (8½in) diameter sandwich cake tins and line the bases with baking paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla and sugar together using an electric hand whisk until thick and the whisk leaves a trail when lifted above the mixture. Sift the cocoa powder and flour together, then fold in.
Stir in the melted butter.
Divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins and bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, shave the block of chocolate either by using a potato peeler or by carefully scraping the blade of a large kitchen knife across the surface of the chocolate. Leave the chocolate shavings in the refrigerator until required.
To make the syrup, put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then boil for 5 minutes. Leave to cool, then add the kirsch.
To make the kirsch cream, whip the cream and sugar to firm peaks, then fold in the vanilla and kirsch.
To assemble the cake, level the tops of the sponges, if necessary, using a sharp knife. Place a little kirsch cream on a serving plate and secure one of the sponges on top. Brush the sponge with some of the syrup, then spread over the raspberry preserve. Sandwich together with a second sponge and brush again with the syrup. Spread over a thick layer of the kirsch cream, about 1cm (½in) deep. Cover with the cherries, reserving 8 for decoration.
Spread a little more cream over the cherries to secure them, then top with the final sponge, upside down, to give an even, flat surface. Brush with the remaining syrup.
Spoon a quarter of the cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and set aside. Using a palette knife, cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream. Carefully stick the chocolate shavings all over the sides of the cake with the palm of your hand. Pipe around the edge of the cake and 8 swirls in the middle, then place the reserved cherries on top of the swirls. Serve dusted with icing sugar.