Writers Who Bake: Katherine Tweedle


Long story short, the Great British Baking Show is sometimes the only thing that helps me knock off at night; sometimes, those creations look so freakin’ yummy I stay awake dreaming about them. I first made this for my hubby’s birthday; I used four or five recipes simultaneously and spent the whole day making two batches of cake that were flat and hard as leather. The third bake was the charm. My bro said it tasted like a sugar-free cake . . . I guess ‘cause he prefers the thrill of diabetic shock offered by store-bought cakes iced with sugar-glue. Rude. This black forest gateau recipe has been tried and workshopped by a baker with delicate tastes—who hates cake—and it is bangarang. Adjust sugar to taste.


• 24–30 oz. dark, pitted, tinned cherries

• 1/2 C +1 tbsp. flour
• 1/2 C +1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/3 C (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter
• 6 large eggs
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 C confectioner’s sugar

• 4 C (2 pints) heavy cream
• 5 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• Optional: 3 tbsp. kirsch

• 1 C water
• 3/4 C granulated sugar
• 1/4 C kirsch—OR—cheat and use approx. 1/2 C juice from the tinned cherries

• A chocolate bar for making chocolate curls or shavings or whatever


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Drain cherries, but save juice if not using kirsch in this recipe.

2. For genoise sponges: prep two 9-inch round cake pans—
a. trace bottom of cake pans onto parchment paper, cut out 1 round per pan,
b. cut 4 strips of parchment, approx. 2 in. high, and
c. line pans with parchment, overlapping strips on either side, OR
d. do the easy thing: spray pans with cooking spray. I hear this works, anyway.

3. Set up double-boiler (supposedly this is a thing people own, but not this chick, so: prayerfully balance a glass bowl atop a pan of simmering water) and continually whisk eggs in top bowl while water below barely simmers, until eggs reach room temperature. Do not stop whisking—if you stop, your sins will be passed on to your childen’s children to the third and fourth generations . . . I joke. Maybe. Rly tho, don’t stop whisking.

4. Mix in 1 C confectioner’s sugar and transfer to stand mixer and beat ‘em up for approx. 10 minutes, until they reach “au ruban” stage—like a continuous flat ribbon when dripped from the beater or a spoon. I will describe this texture as “froofy”: like marshmallow fluff, but not icky-sticky.

5. While eggs are being punished, melt butter in small saucepan, then add 1 tsp. vanilla. In another small bowl, mix together flour and cocoa.

6. When eggs reach au ruban, gently fold cocoa mixture into eggs in three additions. Gently, like when you gotta break it to your girlfriend that pumpkin spice season is over.

7. Transfer melted butter into bowl that previously held dry cocoa mixture and pour in 1 ½ C of cocoa-egg mixture; mix gently until butter is fully incorporated. Transfer this butter mixture back into egg mixture on stand mixer and gently fold it in. Note: It will be difficult to get the dry mixture to incorporate fully. Don’t work this too long; the structural integrity of the sponge depends upon dem bubbly eggs. Take it from me; ain’t nobody wanna be chewing leather.

8. Pour batter, equally divided, into cake pans lined with parchment. Allow to sit for a minute or two, so batter settles evenly—you don’t want sloping sponges.

9. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes until top of sponges resist a little when pressed with your fingerpads. Cool sponges in pans until parchment can be peeled away, then cool sponges on wire racks.

10. For moistening syrup: gently heat sauce pan with water, granulated sugar and kirsch/juice until sugar is dissolved—set aside. For a good time, add more kirsch.

11. For whipped cream: smack around the heavy cream with a hand mixer, adding 5 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar and vanilla (optional: add kirsch) until it becomes thick and ridges form.

12. Assemble cake: brush top and bottom of first sponge with moistening syrup, spread a bigass dollop of cream on top—then a bigger-ass dollop (this part takes, like, 1/3 of the cream), then spread cherries in a layer on top, reserving 9 voluptuous beauties for decoration. Moisten top and bottom of second sponge, place this sponge atop cherries, and smear top and sides of that bad boy with another monstrous dollop of cream. Cream solves everything: hide the imperfections.

13. For decoration: Load remaining cream into plastic sandwich bag, snip a bottom corner, and pipe nine large rosettes, topping them with each of the 9 plump cherries.
Optional decoration: press chocolate curls (or just shavings if you’re clumsy me) into the sides and between the rosettes. I’ve no freakin’ clue how to shave a chocolate bar into cute li’l curls, but maybe you can. Or don’t. I don’t care.

• Take heed. This recipe uses a genoise sponge, which means it has no leavening agent other than the bubbles in the eggs. The world will end if the eggs aren’t beaten enough or if they’re overworked when folding in the other ingredients.
• Probably not a good idea to substitute granulated sugar in place of confectioner’s in this recipe; then again, some may prefer flat cakes with gritty icing. I don’t know.
• The moistening syrup can be made ahead of time to apply when cool.
• The cream should be thick enough not to run when applied to the sides of the cake.
• Too much syrup will make the sponge leak and drip into the cream.
• If your cake looks cuter than mine, I’ll kill you.

Katherine Tweedle writes sleep stories, literary fiction, and fantasy and copyedits just about everything. She and her husband minister to the youth in north Philadelphia. Follow on Twitter @KMillTweed or at katherinetweedle.com.

6 thoughts on “Writers Who Bake: Katherine Tweedle

  1. It looks beautiful, but probably nothing I’d ever make. Thanks for sharing though Charlotte and Katherine, “while eggs are being punished. . .” 🤣
    I guess Katherine’s in my area of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE this one! In fact, I just watched the episode last night where Mary Berry sent a guy home for covering his Black Forest gateau with fluffy, white icing. Mmmmmmmm!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lose no sleep over mine looking better than yours. (If I manage to fix my stand mixer. of course. I just broke the damn thing this morning. If I can’t fix it, forget baking anything elaborate.) My baking tastes good but looks like I used my feet to assemble it.

    Liked by 1 person

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