Sunday, 9 August 2015

GBBO Week 1: Black Forest Gateau

So it’s back!!! The Great British Bake Off :D As the title credits rolled, I was literally bouncing around my room in excitement.

The first challenge was the simple madeira cake – I for one never realised there had to be a crack in the cake! I really liked the simplicity of some of the bakes – Marie’s cake for instance, was a simple zesty cake that Mary and Paul loved. I was also intrigued by the gin and tonic cake made by Mat – sadly there wasn’t enough of a gin kick, but it was one I’d love to experiment with.

The second challenge was a frosted walnut cake, which was a sponge filled with walnuts, and topped with an interesting white frosting. Ugne got first place with an immaculate cake, and even had time to do extra caramel decorations! She is definitely by favourite baker so far (and not just because she is a cool bodybuilder!) Although the walnut cakes looked great, and I will try out the recipe in the future, I turned my attention to the third challenge, the showstopper.

The third and final challenge was the black forest gateau. I was massively impressed by Flora’s cake, where she used cherry powder to get two layers of pink cake, between two layers of the standard chocolate cake. I also adored the look of Nadiya’s cake, where she used a fancy mirror glaze to give the cake a real sheen. Another advantage to trying out one of these bakes was that I wanted to practice my tempering technique. The bbc website had Nadiya’s recipe online, so I decided to experiment with that.

The un-altered recipe is here

Getting the Ingredients...

Normally I wouldn’t need to have a section on this…but I felt it important to mention some of the ingredients I couldn’t get.
I couldn’t get hold of any black cherries in syrup in my local supermarket…I thought to look for kirsch (a cherry liqueur commonly put in black forest gateaux) but they didn’t sell this either. They also, unsurprisingly, didn’t see the chocolate and cherry syrup or cherry essence. Therefore we bought cherry jam, and for the syrup, tried melting some of the jam down and spreading it on the cake. HOWEVER, this made the cake much more delicate, which I will come on to later.

Here is my slightly adapted recipe.

Makes one huge (4 tier) 20cm cake


For the cake:
  • 225g plain flour
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 85 cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 2 tsp icing sugar
For the filling:
·         One jar (354g) cherry jam

For the chocolate mirror glaze:
  • 10g powdered gelatine
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • 125ml glucose syrup
  • 50g cocoa powder
For the chocolate buttercream:
  • 50g dark chocolate 
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 200g icing sugar
For the chocolate ganache:
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 200ml double cream
For the whipped cream:
  • 400ml/14fl oz double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp cornflour, sifted
For the chocolate decorations:
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • Clear plastic wallets or acetate


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins.

2.For the cake, do an all-in-one mix, where you put all of the ingredients except the icing sugar and boiling water into a bowl and stir until just combined. Add the boiling water and stir again. 

3. Pour into the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Before baking

After baking
4. Once cooked, cool in the tins for 10 minutes, before turning the cakes out onto a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar and dusting lightly with icing sugar. Leave to cool, then cut each cake horizontally to make four layers.

5. For the chocolate mirror glaze, mix the gelatine with 3 tablespoons water leave to dissolve. In a saucepan, bring a mixture of the double cream, sugar and 6 tablespoons of water to the boil. 

6. Remove from the heat and add the glucose and cocoa powder. Stir in the gelatine, mix well and strain through a fine sieve. Leave to cool.

7. For the chocolate buttercream, melt the chocolate in a microwave (on short bursts to prevent the chocolate burning). Add the softened butter and icing sugar to the same bowl, and cream together (this is different to the bbc recipe – I found it better as it softened the butter quicker). Add a dash of milk to loosen the buttercream, to allow spreading around the cake later.

8. For the chocolate ganache, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Gently heat the cream in a saucepan until it just comes to the boil, and then pour it over the chocolate. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted. Set aside in a cool place (the ganache will have a spreadable consistency when it’s cool). If you didn’t heat the cream to a high enough temperature, so not all the chocolate melts, don’t worry. Just place the cream/chocolate back into a pan and VERY GENTLY heat until the chocolate melts.

9. For the whipped cream, whisk the double cream until it reaches soft peaks. Then add the icing sugar and cornflour. In our attempt, we slightly over whipped the cream…but the end result was still awesome.

10. For the chocolate decorations, melt 100g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Heat until the temperature reaches 55-58C, at which point take the bowl off the pan, and add the remaining 50g dark chocolate. Constantly stir until the temperature drops to 27-28c. Place into a piping bag.

11. On a piece of paper draw out the shapes you want to create. Place the paper in a plastic wallet. Pipe the tempered chocolate into the shapes, and set aside to allow the shapes to set.

12. When assembling the cake, I had a big disaster. The combination of too syrupy cake and cream meant that the four layer cake had to turn into a two layer job, so be careful! Make sure the cakes are completely cool before assembling, and don’t over-soak the sponge. After doing the recipe I would recommend using either the syrup from a jar of canned cherries, or kirsch, to slightly soak each of the four sponges.

13. Place the first layer of cake onto a serving plate. Spread a layer of chocolate ganache then a layer of whipped cream. Spoon over some cherry jam. Repeat with two more layers of cake and place the final layer on top.

14. Cover the whole cake in butter cream. Pour the chocolate mirror glaze over the top of the cake. Decorate with your chocolate shapes (in our case, we made trees and rabbits).

15. Enjoy!

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