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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.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Decorating: 20 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
Serves: 12 servings
Calories: 149kcal


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


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 won't be as strong.

How to Make Chocolate Genoise Cake

  • In a separate bowl, melt the butter until warm, but not hot. Set it aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
    TIP: This aerates the dry ingredients 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 it's 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 the 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.
    Make sure to whip for long enough, there is no leavening agent in this cake, so the egg volume will help our cakes rise.
  • Sift 1/3 of your flour mixture 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 them 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 temperature 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 fitted with the whisk attachment attached until it begins to get thick and foamy.
  • Add in your powdered sugar and continue mixing on medium speed until you start seeing lines beginning to form on the surface of the whipped cream (medium peak stage), and reduce the speed to low.
  • Add in your vanilla.
  • Slowly drizzle in the gelatin mixture and continue mixing until stiff peaks form 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, don't forget the side of the cake!
  • 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 more fresh cherries and shredded chocolate. You could also use maraschino cherries if you'd like.


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.
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 


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%)