Fear not, for you can do this. In Patisserie Maison, Richard Bertinet shows you a path to dessert elegance. This classic recipe is deceptively easy, especially if you already have on hand some chocolate genoise sponge cake. A bakery shop make components, like sponge cake, and then uses them to compose a complete dessert.

And that is what you can do, too. Have a spare rainy afternoon? Take a little time. Make a sponge cake and freeze. It will keep for a few weeks, but, knowing that asset is in your freezer, I suspect you’ll be tempted to use it quickly.

This combination of cherries and chocolate is famous, beautiful and actually quite simple to construct. Not a cherry fan? Well, substitute raspberries or peach slices that have been drowned in a syrup of rum and sugar. Experimentation is welcome and rewarding.

Patisserie Maison is an excellent tutor for us mere mortals. You can see my book review right here.

Black Forest Gâteau

Yield: one 12” cake


For the cake:

  • 7 ounces cherries in syrup
  • 4 tablespoons kirsch
  • 1 quantity chocolate genoise sponge, recipe follows
  • 1 cup whipped cream flavored with a teaspoon of vanilla and two tablespoons of sugar
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 14 ounces heavy cream
  • 2 ounces liquid glucose or simple syrup
  • 17 ½ ounces good quality dark chocolate
  • 3 ½ ounces butter


Drain the cherries, reserving the syrup, and mix this with the kirsch.

Cut the cherries in half if they are large.

Line a 12-inch-long terrine or bread tin with cling film to overhang the edges.

Cut the sponge into three strips that will fit inside the mold. Lay the first strip in place and brush liberally with the kirsch syrup so that it is well soaked.

Spread with half of the whipped cream. Push in half of the cherries as evenly as you can. Lay the next layer of sponge on top and brush with syrup as before.

Spread with the rest of the whipped cream and push in the rest of the cherries. Finish with the remaining layer of sponge and press down gently. Fold the cling film over the top.

Put in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set.

Meanwhile, to make the ganache, heat the cream and glucose in a pan until just below the boil, pour onto the dark chocolate and whisk or use a hand blender to emulsify all together. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes then whisk in the butter.

Take the gâteau from the fridge and open the cling film. To turn out, place a cake board on top of the terrine or bread tin and, using both hands, firmly grip both and turn over together. Remove the cling film.

Pour half of the ganache over the top and sides of the gâteau and smooth it a little with a palette knife. Put into the fridge to set for at least half an hour, then take out and pour over the rest of the ganache, smoothing it well with a palette knife so that it is even. Put back into the fridge and chill for a further 2 hours at least before serving. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired.

Genoise Sponge

Yield: two 10” X 14” layers


  • 4 ½ ounces or 125g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 4 ½ ounces or 125g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 ounce or 25g butter, melted
  • A little butter for greasing the tin


Put the sugar and eggs in a bowl (use the bowl of your food mixer if you have one), and stir with a whisk, then put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water).

Whisk for about 3—4 minutes, until the mixture is foamy and has tripled in size.

Transfer to a food mixer with a whisk attachment, or use a hand-held one, and whisk at high speed for about 4-5 minutes until the mixture has cooled down and clings easily to the whisk, which will leave ribbon patterns in the mixture as you lift it.

Very gently fold in the flour a little at a time with a metal spoon – you want to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.

Then, again very gently, fold in the melted butter.

With a spoon, turn the mixture into your trays and tilt it so that it spreads into the corners.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until golden and the center is springy to the touch. With shallow tray sponges like this you can tell easily when they are done, so there is no real need to do the skewer test — though you can, if you prefer.

When the sponge is baked, turn out onto a cooling rack. Now the sponge is ready to use in your chosen recipe. Or to freeze, leave the sponge on its greaseproof paper, put another layer on top, and wrap well in cling film before putting into the freezer, where it will keep for around three months.


  • For chocolate genoise sieve 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder with the flour.
  • For coffee genoise, sieve 1 tablespoon of very fine instant ground coffee with the flour.
  • For vanilla genoise, add either 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, or the seeds of one vanilla pod to the mixture with the egg and sugar.
  • For orange genoise, add the grated zest of one orange, and a drop of orange essence or orange flower essence to the mixture before folding in the flour.
  • For lemon genoise, add the grated zest of one lemon and a drop of lemon essence to the mixture before folding in the flour.

Source: Patisserie Maison by Richard Bertinet [Ebury Press, 2015]