Layered chocolate cake with poached cherries

Layered chocolate cake with poached cherries

A great way to use up the cherries and preserve some for later, is to poach with a cinnamon stick and star anise. They marry beautifully with this layered chocolate cake, my take on a Black Forest Cake, and they go just as well with a Christmas trifle or classic Pav.

For the cake

300g unsalted butter
100g good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
360g caster sugar
400g self-raising flour, sifted.
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 large free-range eggs
1 heaped tablespoon sour cream
50ml vegetable oil

For the ganache

150 ml pouring cream.
150g good quality milk chocolate

To finish

6 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
400ml pouring cream, whipped to soft peaks.
500 g poached cherries, drained.

For the poached cherries

1 cup caster sugar
1 cup water
500g cherries, 3/4 pitted, and stalks removed and 1/4 with pips and stalks left on .
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Poached Cherries

Place the sugar, cinnamon, and star anise in a pan with 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cherries and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove the cherries and keep simmering the liquid for 10 minutes or until it’s a nice syrupy consistency. Put the cherries back and leave to cool.

The syrup can be used for other desserts or cocktails.


Preheat the oven to 170*c.

Grease a 23cm (9inch) round cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Place the butter and 300 ml of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil until all the butter has melted. Set aside.

Sift the cocoa powder into a large bowl. Pour in the melted butter mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the sugar, sifted flour, bicarbonate soda and baking powder and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking week after each addition. Add the sour cream and vegetable oil and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

To make the ganache, pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth and shiny. Let the ganache cool for an hour or so until it is at a spreadable consistency.

To assemble the cake, use a large serrated knife to cut the cake into four even layers.

Place one cake layer on a cake stand or flat plate. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of Kirsh (if using) Spread one third of the whipped cream over then dot with 1/4 of the poached cherries.

Repeat to make another two cake layers, then place the last layer on top.

Using a spatula, spread the cooled ganache over the top layer of the cake and top with the cherries that still have their pips and stalks intact.