This year, my course lets me pick what I want to make, and I've decided to go retro -to try to, maybe not perfect, but to do my best to recreate some of the great classics of les pâtisseries.
One of my favourite of les grandes classiques is, and probably always will be, the gâteau fôret noire. Black forest cake is quite simple: three layers of chocolate sponge (I used chocolate genoise) soaked with a kirsch syrup, filled with one layer of cherries soaked in kirsch, and filled and covered with kirsch-flavoured chantilly cream. It sounds like a lot of kirsch, -and yes, it can be, but the trick is to not use so much that the gateau becomes unpleasant.
The base flavour of the gateau, the way that I think of it, is kirsch. The other flavours serve to enhance that flavour. The chocolate sponge adds cool richness and texture, also adding sweetness in that it has been soaked with a kirsch-flavoured syrup. The kirsch-mascerated cherries add another burst of flavour and texture that, for me, really make the gateau.
I was running a little bit short on time when it came to decoration, but I still wanted to use dark chocolate, and wanted something quite effective.
I piped a chocolate design onto a piece of greasproof paper, and peeled it off once set. I repeated the design and stuck it to the side of the gateau. I piped another simple design and fixed that on top of the gateau, feeling that I could not leave it plain.
I love classic gateaus like the Black Forest, and I'd love to hear which other of the grandes classiques people have fallen in love with!