How to Make an Authentic German Black Forest Cake with Cherries and Kirsch?

The Black Forest Cake, known in Germany as ‘Schwarzwalder Kirschotter’, is a delightful dessert that stands tall amongst other famous cakes. This layered chocolate cake is generously filled with whipped cream and cherries, with an added adult kick of Kirsch. This delectable dessert perfectly combines the robust flavor of chocolate with the lightness of cream and the tartness of cherries. Under the following sections, you will learn about the ingredients needed and steps to follow to make this cake.

The Essential Ingredients for Black Forest Cake

Before you start your journey in making this delicious dessert, it’s important to gather all the necessary ingredients. Let’s break it down for you.

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For the Cake:

  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of boiling water

For the Filling and Topping:

  • 1 cup of cherry syrup
  • 2 cups of pitted black cherries
  • 3 cups of heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of Kirsch
  • Chocolate shavings

The Procedure for Making Black Forest Cake

The first step in making an authentic Black Forest Cake is to prepare the chocolate cake layer. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Then, in a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients, and mix until smooth. Gradually add the boiling water and continue mixing until the batter is smooth and well combined.

Divide the batter equally among three 9-inch round cake pans that have been greased and floured. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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While the cakes are cooling, prepare the cherry filling and whipped cream. In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries and cherry syrup over medium heat. Cook until the cherries are soft and the syrup has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream until it begins to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Once the cakes and cherry filling have cooled, it’s time to assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on a serving plate, and brush it with a generous amount of Kirsch. Spread a layer of whipped cream over the cake, then spoon half of the cherry filling on top. Repeat with the second cake layer, Kirsch, whipped cream, and the remaining cherry filling.

Top with the final layer of cake, and cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate with chocolate shavings and additional cherries if desired.

Tips for a Perfect Black Forest Cake

While the recipe may seem straightforward, making a Black Forest Cake can be a bit tricky. Here are some tips that will come in handy.

Use quality ingredients: This is not the time to skimp on ingredients. Use high-quality cocoa, pure vanilla extract, and fresh cherries for the best results.

Chill your cream: Ensure your heavy cream is well chilled before whipping. This will help it whip up properly and hold its shape when spread on the cake.

Don’t rush the cooling process: Allow your cakes and cherry filling to cool completely before assembling. This will help the whipped cream stay in place and prevent the cake layers from becoming soggy.

A Brief History of Black Forest Cake

Not many know that the Black Forest Cake is named after the specialty liquor of the region in Germany, known as Schwarzwalder Kirschwasser. This clear, colorless fruit brandy made from sour cherries is responsible for the distinctive flavor of the Black Forest Cake.

The cake became popular in the United States in the 1960s, with recipes appearing in popular women’s magazines and cookbooks of the time. Today, it is a beloved dessert worldwide, known for its rich chocolate flavor, creamy whipped cream, and tart cherries.

Serving and Storing Your Black Forest Cake

After you’ve assembled your Black Forest Cake, it’s time to think about how to serve and store it.

When it comes to serving, this cake is truly a show-stopper. It is perfect as a birthday cake or for a special celebration. You may choose to add some additional cherries or chocolate shavings on top for a festive touch. Cut it carefully with a long serrated knife to ensure neat slices.

As for storing, this cake is best eaten fresh due to the whipped cream. However, if you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Make sure to let the cake sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving, as this will enhance its flavors.

Keep in mind that the cherries in the filling may release juices over time, which could make the bottom cake layer a bit soggy. To prevent this, consider storing any leftover cherry filling separately and adding it just before serving.

Black Forest Cake Variations Around the World

Interestingly, the Black Forest Cake has inspired a variety of adaptations across the globe. The key components of chocolate, cherries, and whipped cream remain constant, but there’s room for creativity.

In the United States, some bakers opt for a chocolate sponge cake instead of the traditional German recipe. They might also replace the cherry syrup with cherry pie filling for a sweeter, more intense cherry flavor.

In Japan, their version of the cake, called "Black Forest", uses dark, sweet cherries instead of the sour cherries traditionally used in Germany. They also commonly use a whipped cream frosting, as opposed to the heavy cream used in the classic recipe.

No matter the variation, this beloved dessert continues to delight with its harmonious blend of flavors.


The Black Forest Cake is a testament to German culinary skills, showcasing a perfect balance of contrasting flavors and textures. Its rich history, coupled with its mouthwatering taste, make it a dessert worth mastering. Remember, using quality ingredients, taking your time, and not rushing the cooling and assembling processes are key to a successful Black Forest Cake. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or venture out with your own twist, this cake is sure to impress. Enjoy the process of making it, and even more, the pleasure of savoring your homemade Black Forest Cake. Happy baking!