When we started German at school, for some reason one of the first things we learnt was 'Schwarzwalderkirschtorte', Black Forest cherry gateau. I think we probably thought that all Germans ate that every day, in the same way that we had a hazy notion that French people lived on croissants for breakfast and then baguette for lunch before snails and frogs' legs for dinner (I didn't - I spent enough time in France to know better - but those language textbooks were really peddling a certain culinary image of the countries whose languages they were teaching - and that image was really quite convincing). To be honest, 80s Black Forest cherry gateau stands as an emblem of all the desserts I used to hate - oozy, creamy, fruit in it, all in all a bit messy, really. I always liked cake and flapjack, but not the oozy icing in a Victoria sponge, or anything squidgy, in terms of dessert; I would never have eaten this dish, in times gone by. I am, however, a reformed character prepared to boldly go where never I went before, and thus I set to making this swiss roll version of a Black Forest cherry cake, cheerfully dismissing any lurking phobias that might have raised their ugly heads in the process.
My cooking began badly - I lost the cocoa powder. Our kitchen is small - large enough for a table and four chairs, but hardly enormous - and I have a lot of kitchen equipment and even more food and baking ingredients. I still haven't found the cocoa powder that I am sure is there (unless the kitchen gremlins got it - they seem to haunt my kitchen) but Simon graciously, or rather a tad grumpily, went off to Tesco and replenished my supply. I then set to whisking together eggs and caster sugar with my little hand held electric whisk. Jamie said that after 2-3 minutes the mixture would have tripled in size and a dripping beater would leave ribbons of eggy foam visible on the surface after 10 seconds. Hmm. Mine had expanded but not to triple its size and drips from the beater disappeared instantly into the mix, after 3 minutes. I continued until mine did what it was supposed to, but it took time. Then I whisked in melted butter and folded in sifted plain flour and cocoa before scooping it onto a swiss roll tin lined with greaseproof paper. I baked for 15 minutes until the sponge sprang back and then removed it from the oven and tin but, keeping it on the greaseproof, put it on a rack to cool.
To make the filling, I heated orange zest and juice with caster sugar in a saucepan until the sugar had dissolved. I added cherries and cooked until softened. (I used cherries in Kirsch, and then used the Kirsch later). I turned off the heat and added 2 'good splashes' of Kirsch from the cherry jar, cooled, then strained through a sieve, reserving cherries and syrup.
To make the chocolate cream, I heated 1/4 of the total amount of double cream until it bubbled then removed from the heat and mixed in Green and Blacks sour cherry chocolate. I whipped the rest of the cream until it formed stuff peaks.
Finally - assembly time! Keeping the cake on the greaseproof paper, I brushed the cake with cherry syrup and then spread it with chocolate cream, then the whipped cream, then the cherries. At this point I had to roll it up but as I tried, the cake stuck scarily to the greaseproof paper and I panicked - I have always used greaseproof from Lakeland, but it had run out and this was from Tesco, which led me to start blaming Tesco for my failing dessert. (I like to blame Tesco. They can cope with a bit of bashing from me, since their profits are phenomenal and they are known for ruthless trading. Heaven forbid a mistake should come from me, when there is Tesco around as a useful scape goat). The sous-chef, however, managed to roll the cake while prising it awkwardly from its greaseproof coating and it worked, to my complete amazement. We wrapped it not in the over-sticky greaseproof but in cling film and stuck it in the fridge to set.
I forgot to trim the ends and scatter chocolate shavings over, or to dust it with icing sugar. I think that was because by then I had more reason to curse Tesco - the butternut squash I bought there yesterday was off when I cut into it, and by then all the shops were closed. The air was turning slowly blue. Anyway I think the roll looks okay despite my failure to dress it up suitably.
This dessert was much harder for me than the chocolate tart, which was actually quite easy once you got past the idea that you were making chocolate pastry. I'd never made a swiss roll before and the rolling part spooked me a bit, not to mention my eggs and sugar taking forever to whisk together properly. That all said, this is really nice - not too claggy, not too heavy, not any of those things I have always associated with Black Forest cherry gateau. In fact, it is quite delicate somehow - and thoroughly delicious.
Somehow I don't think I'd win a talent contest with the appearance of my roll - which is more flat than roll-like - but I really don't care about that. I am really proud that we managed to make this work and it tastes really good; it's the sort of thing you actually want to eat. Cherries, chocolate, sponge and booze- as Jamie says, a match made in heaven - even if it does make you feel like you've returned to what Lindsay Bareham and Simon Hopkinson are calling 'the prawn cocktail years'. What was wrong with the prawn cocktail years, anyway?