The chocolate sponge in this Black Forest gateau recipe has just the right texture for absorbing a drizzle of kirsch, which keeps it delectably moist.
For the chocolate sponge:
125g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa powder
5 large eggs, separated
200g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp cooled espresso or strong coffee
100g dark chocolate (minimum 65% cocoa solids), melted in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water
For the filling and topping:
500g ripe cherries
60g caster sugar
75ml kirsch or cherry brandy
550ml double cream
1-2 tbsp icing sugar, to taste
4-5 tbsp good-quality cherry compote
Grated chocolate, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 150ºC/Gas 2. Butter, line and butter again the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together and set aside.
In a large grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks using an electric beater. Beat the butter and sugar in another mixing bowl until pale and light. Beat in the yolks one at a time, then fold the espresso through, followed by the melted chocolate.
In several batches, fold the sifted flour mixture and the beaten egg whites alternately into the butter mixture. Spread the combined batter over the base of the prepared tin and level with a spatula.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake emerges clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment.
Remove the stems and pit three-quarters of the cherries, leaving the stems on the remaining cherries to garnish. Put all the cherries, the sugar and kirsch in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the cherries are just soft, giving them an occasional stir. Tip the cherries and kirsch syrup into a bowl and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, whisk the cream and icing sugar into soft peaks.
Using a long, sharp knife, halve the cake horizontally. Drizzle each half with the kirsch syrup from the cherries to moisten. Place the bottom half on a cake stand and spread over half the whipped cream. Arrange the stemmed and pitted cherries over the cream, then spoon over a layer of cherry compote. Top with the upper half of the cake. Spread the remaining cream on top. Sprinkle over a little grated chocolate, then garnish with the whole stemmed cherries.