Jordy Houtman’s Pitch Black Forest Gateau
History of this family cake and why it’s so special
This family cake is a combined recipe from two families. One is English, the other one Dutch. The Dutch family loves a good rich chocolate cake with cherries.. and liqueur. The English side of the family loves their victoria sponge cake. Everyone loves both. This recipe is the result of different practices of a few cakes in the family. This cake reminds us of our grandmothers who both make their special cakes for birthday and seasonal festivities. To celebrate a year of multiple anniversaries, we decided to make each others cakes into one ‘celebrational’… and this has become a firm family favourite – on both sides of the family.
It’s also the favourite cake in particular of both my girlfriend and grandma, so I can please two of the most important ladies in my life with one cake!
This recipe described is fairly elaborate, since the original recipe was simple. To share this recipe properly, we’ve rewritten it to make sure everyone can make this lovely, rich, luxurious chocolate and cherry cake.
This cake can be baked with the basic kitchen utensils; an electric whisk (that kitchen aid machine could be awesome here now 😉 ) , some metal bowls (for au-bain-marie), cutting board, a cake tin (we prefer a silicon one, because it is easier to handle chocolate, and it never really sticks).
To torte the cakes, we use a good bread knife, but there are some other ways to do it.
• 150g unsalted creamy butter, diced
• 150g caster sugar
• 110g self-raising flour
• 40g good quality cocoa powder (Droste if available)
• 3 medium sized eggs
• half Madagascar vanilla pod, use seeds if available (otherwise just 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
• 100gr Mexican single origin chocolate (very rich, goes perfect with cherries)
• 95ml whipping cream
• Pinch of table salt
• 20g unsalted butter, diced
• Cream (as much as you want, … we use 500 ml)
• 2 full tbsp. Icing sugar
• (Amarena) cherries, depitted (canned also does the trick)
• 1 tsp rose water
• Sugar (to taste)
• 2 tbsp Kirsch (or cherry liqueur)
Soft honey base
• 50g unsalted butter, diced
• 1 medium egg
• 30g Acacia honey
• 60g self-raising flour
• 30g icing sugar, sifted
• tsp (5g) baking powder
• Pinch of table salt
• 15ml whole milk / uht milk
Extra: Chocolate top layer and sides
• More Mexican chocolate (we use 200 grams)
• Edible gold powder
• Clean small paint brush
• Long strip of greaseproof paper, around 5 inch wide, and long enough to cover the entire side of the cake tin.
• Apricot jam
HOW TO MAKE IT
Gently heat the cream and salt. Break the chocolate into a bowl, then stir in the warm cream. When the chocolate has melted entirely, add the butter and stir until that too has melted. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and place it in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.
Soft honey base
Heat the oven to 200C. Line a cake tin (same size as which you use for the victoria sponge) with greaseproof paper or a little butter.
Melt the butter over a low heat, then leave to cool a little.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg and honey together for 5 minutes, or until white and thick. A food mixer with a paddle attachment is ideal for this job.
Gradually add all the dry ingredients, then the cooled butter and finally the milk. Mix until they are just combined. Do not overbeat.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a pale golden brown.
Turn the oven down to 100C. Use an oven thermometer to check this.
Bake in the low oven for 20 minutes, until deep golden brown and crisp. Leave to cool, then, lift it out of the tin and place on a baking tray. (The base will be trimmed later when assembling)
Put the cherries in a sauce pan with the sugar and if necessary, some water (if you do not use cherry syrup/water). Boil it down until the syrup is thick enough, so that it won’t be runny when cooled down. Add the rosewater and kirsch while it’s still warm. This should do the trick.
The Victoria sponge
The nice addition of using a victoria sponge recipe instead of a fluffy gateaux one, is that the cherry sauce makes the sponge nice and moist and results in an amazing rich chocolate-cherry cake.
To make the sponge do the following: Heat the oven back to 180 C.
Whisk the butter with the sugar until it gets creamy, then add the vanilla extract.
Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, add the eggs and mix until the mixture is completely combined.
You can divide the mixture between three cake tins if you have more. It’s easier to cook it that way,… but we like to tort it instead. Place the cakes into the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until cakes have risen and are springy to the touch.
Take the cake(s) out of the oven and let them cool completely
Tort it into three layers (make sure you have a good bread knife). If you are using a chocolate top layer, then you might want to have one cake part completely flat on the top as well.
Start with the soft honey base. Make sure you put it on a platter which is easy to handle. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam (not too thin, it has to stick) and add the first cake part on top of it.
Add a thin layer of ganache. Then add half of the cherries, and half of the cream.
Close the cake with the last cake layer. If you do not use a chocolate top layer, you can always sprinkle some icing sugar, or cocoa powder over it.
An example of layers are as following (top down):
[cherries + sauce]
[cherries + sauce]
Extra: Chocolate top layer & sides.
To make the chocolate top layer it is best to do it when the cake is already assembled. If it is assembled, cover it with cling film. (This can be annoying with the cream).
Grab the cake tin (preferably silicon). Use a brush and edible gold powder and sprinkle it on the flat side of the cake tin. Make patterns in the way you want.
Now, melt 60% of the chocolate in a bain-marie. When all chocolate is melted, take the bowl off the heat and add the remaining 40%. Make sure everything is dissolved. If it will not dissolve, just turn it back on the steaming pan. Make sure to take it off straight away when all the chocolate has melted. Keep stirring! (This way, you will get a nice shiny chocolate layer, and makes it extra crunchy! A sort of cheat’s way to temper chocolate)
Pour two thirds of the chocolate into the cake tin and put in the fridge to cool down. Say about 20 minutes. When it’s cooled down, try to get the chocolate circle out and turn it with the gold side up (or shiny side). Glue it on top of the cake with some apricot jam.
Grab a big strip of baking paper, long enough to cover the complete circumference of the cake tin. Make it around 6 inches wide. Use the rest of the chocolate to cover the complete strip and stick it against the side of the cake. The ends on the top, you can fold towards the middle (for the result, see picture). Now put the whole cake in the fridge. After 20-30 minutes, you can remove the baking paper. Voila, done