Giovanna's Favourite Torta Foresta Nera


  • 265g Caputo plain flour

  • 400g Geber caster sugar

  • 65g Geber unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Pan Degli Angeli baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon Geber bicarbonate of soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon Sale di Sicialia salt

  • 3 Legbar eggs

  • 240ml Whole Milk milk

  • 120ml oil

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 3 (425g) tins Fabbri black cherries in syrup

  • 200g Geber caster sugar

  • 4 tablespoons Spadoni cornflour

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 750ml Halta Panna Vegetale whipping cream

  • 5 tablespoons icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease and flour two 23cm (9 in) round cake tins and cover the bottom with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract and beat until well blended. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tins. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Cool in tins on wire racks for 10 minutes. Gently loosen edges and to lift out the cake and put on the wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cherry filling, drain the cherries but make sure you reserve 125ml of the syrup. Combine the syrup, cherries, sugar and cornflour in a 2 litre saucepan. Cook over low heat until it thickens. Stir constantly. When it has thickened, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Cool the cherry mixture.

To make the icing, combine whipping cream and icing sugar in a chilled bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

With a long serrated knife, split each cooled cake layer horizontally in half. Break one split layer apart into crumbs and set aside. Reserve 1/4 of the whipped cream icing for decorating. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands.

To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread with whipped cream icing, and top with 1/3 of the cherry topping. Top with second cake layer and repeat layers of whipped cream icing and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer and ice the side of cake. Pat reserved crumbs onto icing on side of cake. Spoon reserved icing into pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake and serve.


If you love chocolate, you can buy some delicious dark chocolate in the deli, and cover the sides in grated chocolate instead of cake crumbs. This will make the cake extra luxurious for a special occasion.