chocolate walnut and sour cherry cake 

Recipe from Eva Grinston 

This recipe is easy and delicious, a festive cake from Eva's Granny’s cook book, which she found in the basement of her family home in Bratislava at the end of World War Two, after she returned from the concentration camp.

This cookbook is one of Eva's main links to her past, and this cake was Eva's grandmother's favourite. It's the cake that Eva has baked for all her grandchildren's birthdays. 

It's especially good because the sour cherries balance the chocolate, and cut the cake’s sweet richness. It is also gluten free, and suitable for Passover. 

In Czechoslovakia, they picked the sour cherries off the tree. In Australia, Eva buys them, imported from Europe. The best ones, she says, are in a jar, not a tin. Sometimes, when she can’t find sour cherries, she uses tinned pineapple instead!


  • 200 gram / 7 oz butter
  • 200 gram / 7 oz sugar
  • 200 gram / 7oz good dark chocolate, melted
  • 7 eggs, large best
  • 200 gram / 7 oz grated walnuts or almonds - both work well
  • 4 tablespoons self raising flour/ matzo meal during Passover. It is also possible to omit both altogether.
  • 400 g jar of pitted sour cherries, drained

This cake always works well. The main unknown is whether the egg whites will consent to be whipped up into firm peaks – which is what gives the cake its airiness. Once you've done that, it's almost foolproof!


1.    Cream butter, egg-yolks, sugar, till light and fluffy
2.    Add melted chocolate
3.    Whip egg whites to a stiff meringue. Sometimes adding ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar helps this process
4.    Carefully fold whites into the chocolate mixture, alternating with nuts and flour 
5.    Butter a large rectangular tin, 15 inches/37 cm long, 11 inches/ 27 cm wide. Spoon some flour into buttered tin, then tilt, and spill out any surplus.
6.    Spoon chocolate mixture into tin, smooth it down
7.    Once you've drained the juice from the cherries, sprinkle them evenly over the cake mix in the tin
8.    Bake in medium oven, 180 degrees, for 30 minutes. Less if it’s fan forced; test by inserting a toothpick, which should come out dry. 


You can serve as is, cut into squares, or dress it up with a ganache for a special occasion. (200 g dark chocolate melted in the top of a double boiler, with 100 ml cream beaten into it.)  It looks irresistible with sour cherries and pomegranate seeds piled on top of the ganache. 



For a less glamorous occasion, like a picnic, or if you want to leave everyone to have a sweet taste rather than a whole piece of cake, tiny cup cakes are a great option! One batch of cake mix makes lots - more than 60



One of our test cooks, Judy Ingram, baked the cake for Passover, without flour or matzo meal, and using fresh figs, which she also says worked well. She forgot the butter, so in effect she baked a chocolate mousse which she says also worked so well, she might always bake it butter-free from now on!