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Here’s a holiday treat that is sure to please the eye and the tastebuds! This creative and enticing recipe comes from The Great British Baking Show judge Mary Berry. The black forest gâteau is a mountain of chocolate, whipped cream, and black cherry decadence all in one perfectly crafted cake. PBS Food makes it easy to achieve this attractive dessert, which makes an excellent winter centerpiece.

6 large eggs
5.5 oz caster or superfine sugar (about 0.75 cup)
3.5 oz self-rising flour, sifted (about 0.75 cup)
1.75 oz cocoa powder, sifted (about 0.5 cup)

For filling and topping:
1 lb., 2 oz (drained) black cherries in kirsch
2 heaping tbsp. cornstarch
1 pint whipping cream

For decoration:
5 oz. white chocolate
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
Chocolate-covered cherries


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake tins and line the base with greased non-stick baking parchment.
  2. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and whisk until mixture is pale and thick enough to leave very soft peaks when the whisk is lifted out of the bowl (we recommend using an electric mixer and lots of patience). Carefully fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder. Turn mixture into prepared cake tins.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sponges are well risen and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool, and peel off the parchment.
  4. Make the filling. Drain the jars of cherries, reserving the juice. Chop the cherries roughly into quarters. Measure the cornstarch into a small saucepan, make a paste with a small amount of the reserved juice, then stir in the remaining juice. Place over a medium heat and bring slowly to a boil, stirring until thickened, then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cherries, and leave to cool. Refrigerate until quite firm.
    If you can’t find cherries soaked in kirsch, you can also make your own filling from canned bing cherries in syrup and kirsch. Combine 2 tbsp kirsch (a cherry liqueur) with cornstarch, stir, then add 3 tbsp cherry syrup from the can and 4 tbsp more of kirsch. Place over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil, stirring until thickened, then simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat, add the cherries, and leave to cool. Refrigerate until quite firm.
  5. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Divide the cream in half, setting aside one half for the sides and top of the cake.
  6. For the decoration, melt the white and plain chocolate in 2 separate bowls set over 2 pans of gently simmering water. Spoon the melted chocolate into 2 separate disposable piping bags. Draw a tree on a piece of paper to use as a template. Lay a sheet of non-stick parchment paper over the template. Snip off the tip of the plain chocolate piping bag (start with a very small tip). Pipe 12 (plus a few spare in case they break) chocolate tree shapes onto the non-stick parchment – we did the semisweet chocolate first, then outlined in white chocolate. Leave to harden and set.
  7. Cut each sponge into two layers using a long sharp knife. Divide the cherry mixture into thirds. Spread one third of the cherry mix over the sliced sponge. Divide one half of the cream into thirds and spread one third over the cherry mix. Top with another sponge layer and continue until you have three layers of cherries and cream. Top with the final sponge layer.
  8. Spread half of the reserved whipped cream around the sides of the cake. Place the chocolate trees around the sides of the cake, gently pushing them against the sides, into the frosting. Mary Berry recommends topping this cake with chocolate-covered cherries; we topped ours with fresh blackberries and raspberries.

Need more Mary Berry and The Great British Baking Show? Watch masterclass episodes online with Mary and Paul Hollywood, or try one of these contestant recipes for your winter gatherings. (See even more recipes from The Great British Baking Show at PBS Food.) And remember Paul’s advice to contestants before baking: Read the recipe all the way through!

Hazelnut and Orange Biscotti – The perfect companion to coffee or tea, for breakfast or dessert
German Sticky Buns (Schnecken) – Fruits, nuts, and brown sugar make for a tasty filling
Ginger and Treacle Spiced Traybake
 – This moist, wintery cake is a tasty alternative to gingerbread
Pesto Pinwheel Bread – Try this pull-apart recipe as the centerpiece for a party
Spanikopita – Get the low-down on the classic appetizer with Paul Hollywood’s own recipe

Happy baking!


Impress Your Relatives this Holiday Season with a Black Forest Gâteau