Black Forest Gateau – and a half marathon

blackforest gateau

Black Forest Gateau

Black Forest Gateau has always been one of my favourite cakes but I’m not sure that I have made one since I was a teenager in the ’80s…

This week I made one for my friend Magda’s twin daughters, Carmen and Daniela, for their 9th birthday. Last year I made them a disco birthday cake each for their party and a little chocolate cake with a bunny on top each for at home. This year, on the way back from the Royal Parks Half Marathon, Magda asked if I would be able to make them a Black Forest Gateau.

I started running about two and a half years ago and it is definitely not something I am particularly good at. On the other hand, Magda is a seasoned marathon runner and an extremely good one at that. She is training for the New York marathon in November and was doing the half as part of her training, so we went to London and back together and she was kind enough to wait (ages) for me at the end. I’m not entirely sure why I signed up for a half marathon but it seemed like a good idea at the time!

And it’s true, pretty much anyone can do a half marathon or a marathon, it’s just about putting in the training. I printed off a running plan and followed it religiously over the last twelve weeks. The distances built up slowly and the furthest I ran in one go was 10 miles and the most I ran in a week was just over 20 miles. It was a plan for a beginner rather than a plan for a fast time which suited me perfectly.

black forest gateau

Don’t forget carb loading is an essential tool for a runner!

I was very nervous and I am used to running on my own in the park: sometimes I only see a few runners and dog walkers. The Royal Parks Half Marathon had 16,000 people running. The route is fantastic; past Big Ben, round Trafalgar Square, along the Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace and through the London parks. We had a beautiful, warm, sunny day and the route was lined with people so it was a great atmosphere.

Most of the time I felt ok but I really struggled at the half way mark, and then again at about mile 11. I was hoping to finish in 2h15 but didn’t really think I would manage to. I also wanted to do it without walking at all, which I did, even though at times I’m sure I could have walked faster! So I was really pleased to do it in 2h14 and I have to keep reminding myself that just because everyone I know that did it ran it faster doesn’t mean that it’s not an achievement for me.

But back to the cake! The twins asked for Black Forest Gateau because it is their favourite treat at Patisserie Valerie. For years Patisserie Valerie was a mythical London cake shop that I had never visited but now there is one nearby. And although I have only been there a couple of times I have tried their Black Forest Gateau and it is absolutely delicious.

So I was a little concerned about recreating it for the girls, who clearly have excellent taste!

Having looked through my recipe books and checked on the internet, it was clear that it really is as simple as chocolate cake, tinned black cherries and cream. Ideally you need some Kirsch as well but we skipped that on this occasion.

A chocolate victoria sponge makes the perfect base for the cake and I made three layers using three 8″ cake tins and 6 eggs. You can find the basic recipe here if you would like it.

I used most of a 600ml pot of double cream and almost two tins of black cherries to fill and decorate the cake. Firstly I spooned a few tablespoons of the juice over the bottom layer and added a good layer of cream and cherries.

black forest gateau

First layer

Then I added juice and a small amount of cream to the bottom of the second layer and then did the same to the top of the second layer (which I had levelled) and the bottom of the third.

black forest gateau

Three layers of cake, cream and cherries

You could just decorate the top with more cream and cherries if you don’t want to decorate the sides.

I covered the sides in cream and then rolled the cake in chocolate sprinkles so that it would be as much like the Patisserie Valerie version as possible.

blackforest gateau

Chocolate sprinkles to decorate

Then I spread another layer of cream on top and decorated it with more cherries and sprinkles.

Happy 9th Birthday to Carmen and Daniela and thank you Magda for helping make my half marathon experience such a positive one.

And in case any of you are wondering, I still have no desire to ever do a full marathon!

Categories: Baking, Birthday cakes, Cakes, Chocolate, Fruit, Recipes

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful experience and achievement. I sometimes get caught up in the idea of the unachieveable. Thank you for breaking things done and making them accessible. I have always wanted to recreate a real Black Forest Gateau and now I know how to. I also love your approach to running clear and classic. Great, again inspiring through honest simplicity.

  2. It was a beautifully looking and wonderfully tasting gateau! I love the way you wrote the whole story. Thank you so much! Magda

  3. Well done on the half marathon! I think that’s a great achievement. You’ve definitely earned your slice of cake.

  4. Well done for the half marathon! I am yet to get that far…but given your caption about loading up on carbs, maybe I should start running more 🙂

    That cake is stunning! It also made me think of Heston Blumenthal’s black forest gateau from In Search of Total Perfection, minus the spray painting setup….

  5. Your father wants one! Are you surprised?

  6. Well done on the half marathon!!! Woop! I am terrible at running so in my eyes, that’s a fantastic (that needs capitals – FANTASTIC!) achievement. The cake is beautiful too. I’ve never made a black forest gateau but I’ve eaten plenty, and yours is up there with the best of them. Thanks for sharing! xx

  7. Congrats on finishing the half marathon! it’s an achievement! sth that I wish I would do one day!

    I always love having a black forest gateau.. there’s just sth about the kirsch soaked cherries..Beautiful cake! Am sure the twins enjoyed it very much!

  8. congratulations on your run, a brilliant achievement! Cake looks good too 🙂

  9. My birthday’s in March.:)

  10. Congrats on doing a 1/2 marathon — and that cake looks amazing!!!!!

  11. How delicious that cake looks amazing! Congratulations on the run! 😀 That’s great!

  12. Congrats on your half marathon! I am trying to start running and it is proving to be a miserable experience. 😦 Hopefully will get better with time!

  13. Congrats on the half marathon! Beautiful cake 🙂

  14. Beautiful and so delicious looking. I love those sprinkles!


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