Black Forest Cake with Mary Berry’s Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake

sliced cake

This is a beautiful, impressive cake, easily assembled for a special occasion or just a Sunday night dinner. Many recipes for black forest cake will tell you to use a packet-mix cake but I feel this has neither the flavour nor the satisfaction of making Mary Berry’s Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake.

In the original recipe, Mary sandwiches the cakes together with ganache and then ices it with the same. While I did use ganache to ice the cake, whipped cream, cherries and kirsch are a very easy way to turn this, admittedly already delicious cake, into a black forest cake.


Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake:

  • 50g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons boiling water
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g butter, melted and cooled
  • 50ml milk
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 200ml thickened cream (to sandwich together)
  • 4 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 30ml Kirsch (cherry liquor)

Cherry filling:

  • 1 x 400g jar of pitted cherries, drained and ½ cup of liquid reserved.
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (or more to taste)

Ganache (to ice only):

  • 100g chocolate (dark is best but milk is equally yummy)
  • 100ml thickened cream

The cake:

Firstly, pre-heat your oven to 180º and then put the cocoa and boiling water in a mixing bowl and mix with a tablespoon to make a paste.

Now pour in the milk and stir well, ensuring there are no lumps of cocoa powder. Next add the eggs, sugar and butter and mix well.

Sift the flour and baking powder together over the mix and stir in. Briefly beat on high-speed (with your electric beaters) for about 1 to 2 minutes, to give a little air to the mixture and take care of any lumps.

Divide the batter between two round 20cm cake pans (greased and bases lined) and slide into the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. When the cakes are done, allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

The ganache:
Meanwhile, heat the cream in a small pan over a medium heat (be sure not to burn it!) and add the chocolate (broken into squares) as it heats. Once the chocolate starts to melt significantly, turn the heat down to low and give it another minute before removing the pan from the heat entirely and stirring briskly to blend the cream and chocolate well. Once a smooth consistency has been reached, set the pan aside to cool to room temperature and then place it in the fridge to finish cooling.

The filling:

While the cakes cool, you can assemble the cherry mixture.

In a small pan, place the cornflour, sugar and about half of the reserved cherry syrup. Stir the mixture with a silicon spatula to make a smooth mixture, especially ensuring you get rid of any cornflour lumps. Add in the remaining liquid and the cherries, stir and place over a high heat to bring to a boil.

Once boiling, turn the mixture down to a simmer and let it bubble away for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it starts to thicken, remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. If you need to assemble the cake in a hurry, pour the mixture out onto a lipped baking tray and pop into the fridge to cool. The cherry syrup will thicken significantly when cold.

To assemble:

Invert one of the cakes onto your serving plate (so that the cake is upside down) and make a few pricks in the cake with a fork. Slowly pour the kirsch all over the base, distributing it evenly.

When the cakes and cherry filling are absolutely cool, beat the cream until soft peaks are formed and then briefly beat in the icing sugar, just enough to mix it through; don’t over beat it.

cherries on the cake

Spread the cold cherry filling over the base, trying to keep a small margin from the edges. I have found that, when you go to cut the cake, the pressure will push them out of the cake if there is no margin. Blob the cream on top, being gentle so the cherries are no disturbed. Again, try to leave the same margin as the cherries.

Now gently place the second cake on top of the cream. Remove the ganache from the fridge and blob it over the top of the cake, gently spreading with a spatula to spread it evenly. It will probably drip a little down the sides; that’s all part of the charm. If you wish to decorate it further, a crushed flake sprinkled over the top is always welcome, or glace cherries would look equally kitsch. I usually serve it without any further decoration; the dripping ganache speaks for itself I feel.

To serve this cake I highly recommend bringing it whole to the table, for everyone to admire, before cutting everyone a generous slice to enjoy!

Deeply chocolate without being sickly sweet, the Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake is a very enjoyable moist and fluffy sponge. I can highly recommend this as a chocolate cake for an afternoon tea or for dessert as a Black Forest Cake.

iced cake

One word of advice with this cake; it does not travel well once assembled; the cherries and cream in the middle seem to be especially slippery. I have gotten around this by bringing the cakes, ganache, cherries and cream separately and carefully assembling them upon arrival. The added benefit in this is that this cake really seems to assemble best when the cakes and cherries are at, or below room temperature.

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