Traditional Black Forest Cake Recipe

Kirsch soaked chocolate genoise layered with sweet whipped cream and Kirsch soaked cherries. This traditional German cake always impresses with its combination of chocolate, cherry and cream.
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 45 mins
Serves: 12 servings
hand pulling a slice of black forest cake from the whole cake

Everything about this rich black forest cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) is mouthwatering. Three light and fluffy layers of genoise sponge cake, similar to a roll cake, are soaked with a kirsch cherry liqueur, layered with sweet whipped cream, and covered in Kirsch-soaked cherries and chocolate shavings.

hand pulling a slice of black forest cake from the whole cake

The black forest cake is probably Germany’s most well-known contribution to the cake world. It’s a beloved dessert that is widely admired all over the world and has become an iconic cake. Keep reading to learn how to recreate a traditional black forest cake from scratch.

Traditional Black Forest Cake Ingredients

black forest cake ingredients

These are some important ingredients to note that you may not have on hand.

Kirsch Cherry Liqueur – This somewhat spicy and fiery liqueur is what the black forest cake is named for! It gives it its distinctive flavor. You can omit the liqueur if you desire and use an extra Tablespoon of sugar in your cherry syrup.

Cake Flour – This flour can typically be found in most grocery stores in the baking aisle. Cake flour is a soft flour with a lower protein content than all-purpose flour resulting in very soft and delicate sponge cakes.

Dutched Cocoa PowderThis cocoa powder is different than a natural cocoa powder such as Hershey’s. It has been alkalized so the flavor of the cocoa powder is much smoother and richer. Typically you cannot switch out cocoa powder without changing the rising agents but since genoise doesn’t have any rising agents, you can switch the cocoa powder to any brand with no issues.

How to make Kirsch soaked cherries

close up of kirsch soaked cherries in a glass bowl

I like to make the Kirsch soaked cherries a day or two in advance but really you can make them as far in advance as you want and just store them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. The sugar and alcohol will preserve the cherries and the flavor just gets better and better.

  1. If your cherries are fresh, go ahead and pit them and set them aside. Make sure you reserve 8 cherries for the decoration of the cake later. You can also use frozen or canned cherries. If you use canned cherries in syrup then use the syrup as the water and omit the sugar from the recipe. pitting fresh cherries into a bowl
  2. Combine the water, sugar and cherries in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.making kirsch soaked cherries in a pink saucepan
  3. Once the sugar granules have dissolved (after about 1 minute) then remove the mixture from the heat.
  4. Add in your Kirsch and stir to combine. adding kirsch to cherry mixture
  5. Transfer the cherries and syrup to a covered container and place it into the fridge. The longer it sits, the more the flavors will develop. If you’re in a rush you can use them right away, the flavor just wont be as strong.kirsch soaked cherries in a mason jar

How to make chocolate genoise cake

Genoise is a very light sponge cake with no leavening. It gets all its lift from how well you whip the eggs and how delicately you mix in the flour. Kinda like making french macarons, you don’t want to mix too much or too little. Genoise is also very dry so you’ll want to make sure you give it a really good soak with that kirsch cherry juice!

Depending on how well you folded your batter, your cakes may be very tall or very short. If your layers are shorter, don’t despair! They will still taste delicious.

How to make the stablized whipped cream filling

I love to use my stabilized whipped cream to frost and fill this cake because once it sets up, it’s much easier to cut without the whole cake falling apart.

  1. In a seperate bowl, melt the butter until warm, but not hot. Set it aside.
  2. Sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder and salt. This aerates the flour so it’s easier to fold into the egg mixture later and avoid getting flour lumps. sifting dry ingredients for genoise
  3. Place the eggs, sugar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the mixture until its slightly warm, around 100ºF. I just feel the mixture with my fingertips, if I can’t feel any grains of sugar I know its ready.hand rubbing egg mixture between fingertips
  4. Whip egg mixture on high for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture triples in volume. The batter will make a “ribbon” when the whisk is lifted. If the ribbon sits on top of the mixture for a few seconds before melding back in, the mixture is ready.close up of egg mixture at the ribbon stage
  5. Sift 1/3 of your flour mix into the egg mixture and fold to combine. Try to deflate the mixture as little as possible. Sift and fold in another 1/3rd of the mixture and then finally the last portion. Make sure no lumps remain.folding in sifted flour and cocoa
  6. Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a seperate bowl and fold the butter into it. This will make it easier to add the butter to the rest of the batter without deflating it.
  7. Add the butter mixture and vanilla to the egg/flour mixture and fold together carefully. adding vanilla to genoise batter
  8. Coat three 6 inch cake pans with cake goop. Some people also like to put parchment circles on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.applying cake goop to cake pans
  9. Divide the genoise batter evenly between the 3 pans.pour genoise batter into a cake pan
  10. Bake the cakes at 350ºF for 25 minutes or until the center of the cake is set. Try not to open the oven to look at the cakes until after 20 minutes of baking as the movement and temp change can cause the cakes to fall.
  11. Let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes and then gently loosen the edges of the cakes from the pan with a knife and turn the cake out onto a cooling rack to cool fully before frosting.close up of genoise on a cooling rack
  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it bloom for 5 minutes.sprinkling gelatin over water to bloom
  2. Melt the gelatin in the microwave for 10-15 seconds or until you no longer see any granules and the mixture looks clear.
  3. Add the Tablespoon of cream to the gelatin and stir to combine.
  4. Begin whisking your heavy cream in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment attached until it begins to get thick and foamy. adding heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer
  5. Add in your powdered sugar continue mixing on medium speed until you start seeing lines begining to form in the surface of the whipped cream (medium peak stage) reduce the speed to low. whipped cream whipping in the bowl of a stand mixer
  6. Add in your vanilla.
  7. Slowly drizzle in the gelatin mixture and continue mixing until you reach firm peaks that hold their shape but do not over-mix. stabilized whipped cream

How to assemble the black forest cake

  1. Trim the bottom and top of your cakes with a serrated knife to make them level and for them to be easier to soak with the syrup. trimming genoise cake layers
  2. Place your first cake layer onto a cake cardboard or onto a cake platter. Soak the layer generously with the kirsch syrup. soaking a genoise cake layer with syrup
  3. Add a thick layer of your whipped cream and spread it evenly.
  4. Place some of your cherries onto the layer of whipped cream. Make sure the whipped cream and cherries are level with each other. adding cherries to whipped cream on a cake
  5. Place the next layer of cake on top and continue with this process a second time. soaking genoise with kirsch syrup
  6. Cover the whole cake in a layer of whipped cream and then freeze the cake for about 20 minutes. crumbcoat on genoise cake
  7. Then cover the cake in your final layer of whipped cream and make it smooth or leave it rough if you like a rustic look. smoothing genoise with whipped cream
  8. Cover the bottom of the cake with some chocolate shavings. I use a vegetable peeler and a block of chocolate. shaving chocolate with a vegetable peeler
  9. Make your ganache drip by combining the chocolate and cream and mixing until smooth. Wait until it cools to 90ºF and then pipe the drip on top of the cake. piping ganache onto the top of the genoise
  10. Cover the top of the cake with the leftover ganache and smooth it out. covering the cake with ganache
  11. Finish the cake with some rosettes of whipped cream and some more fresh cherries and shredded chocolate.adding cherries to the top of the genoise cake

Why is it called black forest cake?black forest cake

Black forest cake actually gets its name from a distinctive and fiery kirsch alcohol made from Black Forest sour cherries, known as Schwarzwälder Kirsch or Kirsch Wasser (cherry firewater). It is very strong tasting on its own but in the cake, you can barely taste it. Although you can make this cake without the Kirsch, you can’t technically call it a black forest cake but if want to, don’t worry, I won’t tell on you :D.

The Black Forest Cake, which is thought in some circles to have been created in its modern form by patissier Josef Keller in 1915, is legally protected. It was granted protected status in 2013 by the European Commission when it decided that any dessert taking the name had to use the cake’s original ingredients, including Kirsch, a brandy made from the fermented sour cherries that grow in the region. black forest cake slice

What’s the difference between black forest cake and chocolate cake?

You can’t just bake up any old chocolate cake, add some cherries on top and call it an authentic black forest cake. Now really, there isn’t any black forest cake police roaming around ready to arrest you for your transgression but technically, a black forest cake is made with chocolate sponge cake soaked with a simple syrup made from Kirsch, Kirsch soaked cherries, layered with whipped cream and topped with more cherries and shaved chocolate.

If it falls outside of those specifications, it’s a chocolate cake which is also delicious!

FAQ

Why are my layers so flat?

Depending on how well you mix your genoise, your cake layers’ height will vary. Try not to over-mix.

Why is my whipped cream so soft

You may have under-whipped the cream. Make sure you reach firm peaks.

Do I have to use alcohol (Kirsch)?

A traditional black forest cake uses Kirsch in the syrup and the whipped cream but you can leave it out and replace it with more cherry juice if you want.

More Cake Recipes

Authentic Red Velvet Cake

Stabilized Whipped Cream

Cherry Filling

German Chocolate Cake

Coconut Pecan Filling

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
hand pulling a slice of black forest cake from the whole cake

Traditional Black Forest Cake Recipe

Kirsch soaked chocolate genoise layered with sweet whipped cream and Kirsch soaked cherries. This traditional German cake always impresses with its combination of chocolate, cherry and cream.
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Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Decorating: 20 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Serves: 12 servings
Calories: 149kcal

Ingredients

Chocolate Genoise

  • 2 ounces (57 g) melted butter, warm not hot
  • 2.5 ounces (71 g) cake flour
  • 2 ounces (57 g) dutched cocoa powder
  • 6 large (6 large) eggs
  • 7 ounces (198 g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Kirsch Soaked Cherries

  • 3.5 ounces (99 g) sugar
  • 4 ounces (113 g) water
  • 2 ounces (57 g) kirschwasser
  • 12 ounces (340 g) cherries, dark sweet or tart

Stablized Whipped Cream

  • 24 ounces (680 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces (113 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin I use KNOX brand
  • 3 Tablespoons cold water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Drip

  • 6 ounces (170 g) semi-sweet or milk chocolate
  • 4 ounces (113 g) heavy whipping cream

Instructions

How to Make Kirsch-Soaked Cherries

  • If your cherries are fresh, go ahead and pit them and set them aside. Make sure you reserve 8 cherries for the decoration of the cake later.
    TIP: You can also use frozen or canned cherries. If you use canned cherries in syrup then use the syrup as the water and omit the sugar from the recipe.
  • Combine the water, sugar and cherries in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
  • Once the sugar granules have dissolved (after about 1 minute) remove the mixture from the heat.
  • Add in your Kirsch and stir to combine.
  • Transfer the cherries and syrup to a covered container and place it into the fridge.
    TIP: The longer it sits, the more the flavors will develop. If you're in a rush you can use them right away, the flavor just wont be as strong.

How to Make Chocolate Genoise Cake

  • In a separate bowl, melt the butter until warm, but not hot. Set it aside.
  • Sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder and salt.
    TIP: This aerates the flour so it's easier to fold into the egg mixture later and avoid getting flour lumps.
  • Place the eggs, sugar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the mixture until its slightly warm, around 100ºF.
    TIP: I just feel the mixture with my fingertips, if I can't feel any grains of sugar I know it's ready.
  • Whip egg mixture on high for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture triples in volume. The batter will make a "ribbon" when the whisk is lifted.
    TIP: If the ribbon sits on top of the mixture for a few seconds before melding back in, the mixture is ready.
  • Sift 1/3 of your flour mix into the egg mixture and fold to combine. Try to deflate the mixture as little as possible. Sift and fold in another 1/3rd of the mixture and then finally the last portion. Make sure no lumps remain.
  • Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a separate bowl and fold the butter into it.
    TIP: This will make it easier to add the butter to the rest of the batter without deflating it.
  • Add the butter mixture and vanilla to the egg/flour mixture and fold together carefully.
  • Coat three 6 inch cake pans with cake goop.
    TIP: Some people also like to put parchment circles on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.
  • Divide the genoise batter evenly between the 3 pans.
  • Bake the cakes at 350ºF for 25 minutes or until the center of the cake is set.
    TIP: Try not to open the oven to look at the cakes until after 20 minutes of baking as the movement and temp change can cause the cakes to fall.
  • Let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes and then gently loosen the edges of the cakes from the pan with a knife and turn the cake out onto a cooling rack to cool fully before frosting.
    TIP: Depending on how well you folded your batter, your cakes may be very tall or very short. If your layers are shorter, don't despair! They will still taste delicious.

How to Make the Stabilized Whipped Cream Filling

  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it bloom for 5 minutes.
  • Melt the gelatin in the microwave for 10-15 seconds or until you no longer see any granules and the mixture looks clear.
  • Add the Tablespoon of cream to the gelatin and stir to combine.
  • Begin whisking your heavy cream in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment attached until it begins to get thick and foamy.
  • Add in your powdered sugar, continue mixing on medium speed until you start seeing lines begin to form in the surface of the whipped cream (medium peak stage) reduce the speed to low.
  • Add in your vanilla.
  • Slowly drizzle in the gelatin mixture and continue mixing until you reach firm peaks that hold their shape but do not over-mix.

How To Make The Ganache Drip

  • Combine the cream and chocolate and microwave or heat over a double boiler until melted. Stir until smooth. Pipe at 90ºF onto a chilled cake.

How to Assemble the Black Forest Cake

  • Trim the bottom and top of your cakes with a serrated knife to make them level and for them to be easier to soak with the syrup.
  • Place your first cake layer onto a cake cardboard or onto a cake platter. Soak the layer generously with the kirsch syrup.
  • Add a thick layer of your whipped cream and spread it evenly.
  • Place some of your cherries onto the layer of whipped cream. Make sure the whipped cream and cherries are level with each other.
  • Place the next layer of cake on top and continue with this process a second time.
  • Cover the whole cake in a layer of whipped cream and then freeze the cake for about 20 minutes.
  • Then cover the cake in your final layer of whipped cream and make it smooth or leave it rough if you like a rustic look.
  • Cover the bottom of the cake with some chocolate shavings. I use a vegetable peeler and a block of chocolate.
  • Make your ganache drip by combining the chocolate and cream and mixing until smooth. Wait until it cools to 90ºF and then pipe the drip on top of the cake.
  • Cover the top of the cake with the leftover ganache and smooth it out.
  • Finish the cake with some rosettes of whipped cream and some more fresh cherries and shredded chocolate.

Notes

Depending on how well your fold your genoise batter, your cake layers will be taller or shorter. If they are shorter, don’t despair! They will still taste delicious.
I like to make the Kirsch soaked cherries a day or two in advance but really you can make them as far in advance as you want and just store them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. The sugar and alcohol will preserve the cherries and the flavor just gets better and better.
Genoise is a very light sponge cake with no leavening. It gets all its lift from how well you whip the eggs and how delicately you mix in the flour. Kinda like making french macarons, you don’t want to mix too much or too little. Genoise is also very dry so you’ll want to make sure you give it a really good soak with that kirsch cherry juice!
If you don’t want alcohol in your black forest cake you can omit the Kirsch and use more cherry juice.
FAQ
Why are my layers so flat?
Depending on how well you mix your genoise, your cake layers’ height will vary. Try not to over-mix.
Why is my whipped cream so soft?
You may have under-whipped the cream. Make sure you reach firm peaks.
Do I have to use alcohol (Kirsch)?
A traditional black forest cake uses Kirsch in the syrup and the whipped cream but you can leave it out and replace it with more cherry juice if you want.
Caraway pans ► https://ap.carawayhome.com/sugargeekshow10 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 149kcal (7%) | Carbohydrates: 29g (10%) | Protein: 3g (6%) | Fat: 2g (3%) | Saturated Fat: 1g (5%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 82mg (27%) | Sodium: 129mg (5%) | Potassium: 37mg (1%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 25g (28%) | Vitamin A: 119IU (2%) | Calcium: 14mg (1%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)
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