Black Forest Cake has a decadent chocolate cake that’s filled with an authentic cherry filling and topped with sweet homemade whipped cream! This classic German dessert bakes in just 25 minutes!
This Black Forest Cake traditionally consists of layers of chocolate sponge cake sandwiched together with whipped cream and a cherry filling. The cake is brushed with kirschwasser, a cherry liqueur for added moisture – and in Germany, the law mandates the liqueur be present for it to be a true Kirschtorte!
Also known as a Black Forest gateau, this cake is based on the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cherry-torte. This cake is not actually named after the south-western Germany Black Forest mountain range, but after this revered spirit that is distilled from tart cherries in that area.
This cake is a holiday favorite in our house, but is actually a perfect summer dessert too! The whipped cream keeps the light sponge cake from forming that all too familiar dessert-shaped brick in your belly after a big meal.
Cherry season just happens to fall in the warmer months in North America, and the lovely ruby gems look so pretty on the finished dessert! Luckily, this cake is easy to devour – the tart cherries are a wonderful contrast to the rich cake.
You actually might find yourself going after a second slice before the night is over!
This German Black Forest Cake Recipe has three very delicious parts. The moist chocolate cake, tart cherry filling, and the sweet whipped cream, all of which are homemade!
The chocolate cake ingredients consist of all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, dutch-process cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and eggs. Once the batter is ready it will fill two 8″ round cake pans.
For the cherry filling, you’ll need fresh cherries, kirsch, granulated sugar, water, and cornstarch. If fresh cherries are nowhere to be found, a jar or two of tart Morello cherries will make a fantastic (and actually more traditional) substitute. Just don’t forget the kirsch!
Last up is that perfect light and fluffy homemade whipped cream that’s made of only two ingredients; heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar. Then garnish the cake with grated dark chocolate and fresh cherries!
How To Make Black Forest Cake
- Grease and line round cake pans with parchment paper.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- Combine the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a seperate bowl. Then gradually beat these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- Beat the eggs in one at a time. Afterward, divide the batter into the prepared pans.
- Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Leave them to cool in the pans before transferring them onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
- Prepare the cherry filling by soaking the cherries in kirsch. Then drain the cherries, reserving the kirsch.
- Whisk cornstarch and water together in a small bowl.
- Boil the soaked cherries, sugar, and water together. Next, stir in the cornstarch and water.
- Cook until the mixture thickens then remove from heat. Cool completely.
- Prepare the whipped cream by whipping the cream until soft peaks form. Then slowly add the sugar in, whipping until stiff peaks form.
- Assemble the Black Forest Cake by first trimming each cake to create even layers.
- Place the first layer on a serving plate and brush with the reserved kirsch. Then spread a layer of whipped cream onto the cake and top with 1/2 cup of the cherry filling.
- Repeat the process with the next layer then top it with the final layer of the cake. Brush the top with kirsch.
- Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of whipped cream and chill the cake.
- Spread the remaining whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate the sides with chocolate shavings.
- Pipe dollops of whipped cream on top of the cake and garnish with fresh cherries. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Store
Store this cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Can I Use A Boxed Cake Mix Instead Of Making This A Homemade Cake?
Absolutely! Just substitute the water the boxed mix calls for with buttermilk. I would also recommend adding in some vanilla extract and/or espresso powder to enhance the chocolate flavor of the cake mix!
Can I Just Use A Can Of Cherry Filling In This Recipe?
Yup! Before using it just mix in 1 teaspoon of kirsch.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Find Any Fresh Cherries?
If you can’t get your hands on any fresh cherries just grab a jar of tart cherries. Then drain them and soak them in kirsch for at least an hour, then proceed with the filling recipe.
Is There A Way I Can Make This A Poke Cake?
Yes! Pour the batter into a 9×13 cake pan and poke holes in it after it has been baked. Then brush it with kirsch and spread the cherry filling over the top.
Finish it off with whipped cream and chocolate curls!
Could I Just Use Store Bought Whipped Cream Instead?
You sure can! A store-bought tub of whipped cream is a great substitution for homemade whipped cream when you’re in a pinch.
This Black Forest Cake does a wonderful job hitting the spot when I’m craving something with chocolate! Here are more of my favorite chocolate desserts I also make when my sweet tooth is in full force!
- Chocolate Guinness Cake – Rich, tender chocolate cake made with a smooth stout, filled with chocolate ganache, and covered in Irish Cream Frosting
- Black Magic Chocolate Cake – Three layers of moist chocolate cake that are frosted with Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting!
- German Chocolate Poke Cake – Chocolate cake gets soaked in sweetened condensed milk and topped with chocolate ganache and Coconut Pecan Frosting!
- Chocolate Cookie Butter Cake – Dense chocolate cake layered with cookie butter frosting and chocolate ganache, only 30 minutes of prep time!
- Brown Sugar Bacon Chocolate Cake – Delicious candied bacon makes this the perfect sweet and salty cake!
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This recipe was originally published in June 2018 and was updated in September 2021 with step-by-step photos and clearer instructions.
Black Forest Cake
- 1½ pounds fresh cherries pitted
- ½ cup kirsch
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon water divided
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Grated dark chocolate for garnish
- Fresh cherries for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line with parchment paper three 8" round cake pans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Gradually beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating until well blended and smooth. Divide the batter into the prepared cake pans.
- Bake 22-28 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then flip them onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
- Soak cherries 2 hours or overnight in the kirsch. Drain cherries through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the kirsch. Whisk cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water together in a small bowl.
- Bring the soaked cherries, sugar, and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the cornstarch & water and stir to combine. Cook 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then slowly add the sugar on low speed until incorporated. Whip until stiff peaks form.
- Trim each layer to create even layers. Place the first layer on a cake board or plate and brush reserved kirsch over the surface.
- Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on the cake, then top with 1/2 of the cherry filling. Repeat on the next layer. Top with the final layer of cake, brushing the top with kirsch.
- Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of whipped cream, then chill it for 30 minutes.
- Ice the cake with the remaining whipped cream to coat the sides and top of the cake. Decorate the sides with the grated chocolate. Pipe dollops of whipped cream on top of the cake, then garnish with fresh cherries.
- Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve, up to a few hours. The cake will hold in the fridge for about 3 days.
- Store this cake in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- If you can’t get your hands on any fresh cherries just grab a jar of tart cherries. Then drain them and soak them in kirsch for at least an hour, then proceed with the filling recipe. You can also use canned cherry filling mix in a tablespoon of kirsch.
- In a pinch, you could use thawed whipped topping on this cake, but canned whipped cream won’t work since it isn’t stabilized and deflated quickly. Homemade is truly best if you can spare the time.