In Donal's own words, 'I’m a self taught home cook who writes and photographs food for a living. I’ve been cooking from an early age ...
6 large eggs
150g (5 oz) castor sugar
50g (2 oz) sifted cocoa powder
25g (1 oz) sifted self-raising flour
300ml (½ pint) double cream, whipped
1 level tablespoon castor sugar
1 × 450 g (1lb) tin black cherries, stoned
50g (2 oz) dark chocolate
1 tblsp rum or kirsch
fresh cherries, to decorate
Oil two 20cm (8in) sandwich tins and line the base with oiled greaseproof paper. Separate the eggs: yolks in one bowl, whites in a larger one. Whisk the yolks with the 150g (5 oz) sugar until pale and thickened slightly, then fold in the cocoa and sifted flour.
With a clean whisk, beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Stir a heaped tablespoon of egg white into the cocoa mixture, then gently fold in the rest using a metal spoon. (Do it very gently.) Divide this mixture between the tins and bake near the centre in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for about 15-20 minutes.
They may not appear fully cooked but should be set and slightly puffy. They will shrink quite a lot, which is normal. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins but turn out while still faintly warm and strip off the papers.
Now whip the cream with the 1 tablespoon of sugar until floppy but not too stiff. Empty the can of cherries into a sieve over a bowl. Then mix 2 tablespoons of the juice with 1 tablespoon rum or kirsch and sprinkle this over the cake layers.
Using a palette knife, spread about one-third of the whipped cream over one cake. Take any stones from the cherries and arrange the cherries over the cream on the cake. Put onto a serving dish. Carefully lift up the other layer and put on top. Cover the entire cake with the rest of the cream using a palette knife.
Arrange the fresh cherries around the edges, or make a pattern, and finally grate the chocolate over the top and sides of the cake. Do not move the cake from the surface it is on and keep covered loosely with paper in a cold place.