“In Germany, you can’t become a master pâtissier until you can make a Black Forest gâteau correctly. For me, it’s all about the chocolate, cherries and the kirsch.”

Paul Hollywood Black Forest Gateau recipe

Black Forest Gateau
Serves 12

For the sponge
200 g (7 oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200 g (7 oz) caster sugar
6 large eggs, separated
130 g (4½ oz) self-raising flour
70 g (2½ oz) cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons milk

For the filling and topping
3 Tablespoons kirsch
4 Tablespoons cherry jam
900 ml (32 fl oz) double cream, whipped
400 g (14 oz) tin pitted black cherries, drained and halved

To decorate
60 g (2¼ oz) dark chocolate (60% to 70%)
A handful of fresh cherries

Heat your oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease a 23-cm springform cake tin and line the base with parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, using an electric whisk, until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into another bowl, then fold into the whisked mixture. Finally, fold in the milk. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually fold into the chocolate mixture until fully mixed. Pour this into the prepared tin and gently level the surface. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. To assemble, carefully cut the cake horizontally into three even layers (see tip below). Place one sponge on your serving plate and sprinkle evenly with 1½ tablespoons kirsch. Spread half of the cherry jam over the sponge then apply a layer of whipped cream on top, and spread it out with a palette knife.

Scatter over half of the cherries. Place another sponge on top, sprinkle with the rest of the kirsch, then repeat the jam, cream and cherry layers. Place the last sponge on top. Load a palette knife with cream and spread it all over, covering the entire cake in a thin layer of cream. Press finely grated chocolate around the sides and top. Pipe rosettes of cream around the edge and sit whole cherries on them.

Excerpt from A Baker’s Life: 100 fantastic recipes, from childhood bakes to five-star excellence by Paul Hollywood (Bloomsbury, 2017).