Black Forest cake aka Black Forest gateau is one of the most popular cakes in Germany. The delicious "Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte" was invented around 1915 and became one of the most famous cakes in the world.
The cake consists of decadent delicious moist chocolate cake layers spiced up with Kirschwasser (German cherry brandy) and is filled with Morello cherries and a luxurious amount of whipped cream. The dark chocolate shaving decoration and the cherry garnish on top of the cake give the cream cake it´s signature look.
How Is Black Forest Cake Called in German?
Black Forest Cake is called "Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte" in German. "Torte" is the German name for cakes with cream fillings.
How To Pronounce Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte?
Kirschwasser - The Secret Cake Ingredient
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte: Who doesn’t know it? Creamy and fruity with a wonderful fluffy base – this dream cake makes many people swoon. Next to the cuckoo clock and Black Forest ham, it is the beloved showpiece of the Black Forest.
Its distinctive, unique taste of Black Forest cake is created by adding “Kirschwasser”. Kirschwasser is a strong German cherry brandy. The kirsch does moisten the chocolate layers and/or flavor the cherry filling. If you find a Black Forest cake recipe that calls for cherry liqueur or simple syrup stay away as it has nothing to do with the original recipe.
Black Forest Gateau - History
According to legends there are many versions of how the cake got it´s name and who invented it.
Why is it called Black Forest Cake
These three theories of the origin of the cake recipe name are the most popular ones:
- The dark chocolate shavings led to the name, because they remind you of a dark forest.
- The ingredient Kirschwasser led to the name, because the famous cherry brandy was primarily made in the Black Forest.
- The name of the cake could also be a nod to the well known traditional female costume from the Black Forest. The dress is black like the chocolate shavings, the blouse is white like the cream and the "Bollenhut" (traditional Black Forest hat for women) is decorated with red balls, that the cherries resemble.
Who invented the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte?
People from the Black Forest are obviously certain, that it was created somewhere in the hills of the Black Forest. The most delicious cherries grew there, from which the amazing Schwarzwälder Kirsch cherry brandy is made. The combination of cherries, cream and kirsch was known since many centuries in the South of the Black Forest, but not in the shape of a cake, but as a dessert. Boiled cherries were served with cream and sometimes kirsch was added as a flavoring.
According to research conducted by the city archivist of Tübingen Udo Rauch circumstantial evidence points towards the fact, that a baker from Tübingen Erwin Hildenbrand created the Black Forest Gateau in early 1930 in the Café Walz in Tübingen. A photograph with the date of 1936 written on it shows the baker baking the Black Forest gateau.
In 1934 the Black Forest Gateau was mentioned in writing for the first time. At this point it was already well known, especially in Berlin, as well as in fancy cake shops all over Germany. In 1949 it was only on place 13 of the most well-known cakes in Germany. After that its popularity levels increased rapidly. Today it is the most well known cake from Germany and is famous almost everywhere in the world. But some countries exchanged ingredients and replaced the alcohol.
How To Make The Famous Cake
If you look at the layers and the decoration you might be a bit intimidated if you are not an experienced baker. But I can assure you, the cake is way easier to make than you might think. Check out these tips before you start with the recipe.
Chocolate Cake Layers
A little trick is, like with all cream cakes, to bake the cake layers the day before you want to assemble the cake. This gives you the peace of mind that the chocolate cake layers will have cooled completely before filling. This also guarantees that you will not stand in the kitchen for several hours on one day and makes the cake creation an easy experience.
Whipped Cream Frosting
The secret ingredient for the whipped cream frosting is the cream stabilizer. It makes sure that your cream frosting holds up for several days. You can find the cream stabilizer in most German delis or online.
Traditionally dark Morello cherries are used. The slightly sour taste harmonizes perfectly with the chocolatey cake base. Even fresh cherries look the nicest on the cake, traditionally canned Morello cherries called "Sauerkirschen" in Germany were used for the cake.
Many bakeries in Germany also use Morello cherries for the filling but cocktail cherries for the decoration on top of the cake as these cherries keep better for presentation purposes.
You might be surprised about the amount of sugar used in the recipe. The whole cake only calls for 1 ½ cups of sugar in total which is less than you might be used to in American recipes.
Authentic German Black Forest Cake Recipe
Black Forest Cake - Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte
- 5 eggs
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract or powder
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 3 tbsp. corn starch
- 3 tbsp. cocoa powder unsweetened
- 1 glass 26 oz. tart/sour cherries (i.e. Morello cherries)
- ⅔ cup corn starch
- ¼ cup sugar
- 6 tbsp. Kirschwasser cherry brandy
- 34 fl.oz. heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 5 pouches whip it cream stabilizer
To Moisten the Cake Layers (optional)
- 3.5 fl. oz. Kirschwasser alternative cherry juice or cherry jam
- 4-6 oz. dark chocolate high quality
- 14-16 cherries
- Grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan and preheat the oven to 350F.
- Separate the eggs into two bowls.
- Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
- Beat egg yolks with sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy.
- Place egg yolk mixture onto the egg whites and fold in.
- Combine flour, baking powder, corn starch and cocoa powder and sift on top of the egg mixture.
- Pour mixture into the springform pan and bake for 20-30 min.
- Remove the ring from the springform pan. Turn cake on a with parchment paper lined cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- Place the bowl and the whisk that you will use for whipping the cream into the freezer and chill for about 15 min. before you will start with the cherry filling.
- Drain cherries and reserve the cherry juice.
- Mix corn starch and sugar with ¼ cup of the cherry juice.
- Bring ¾ cup of cherry juice to a boil. Add the corn starch mixture and simmer lightly for a couple of minutes while stirring.
- Place cheries into a bowl, let cool for a bit and stir in the Kirschwasser.
- Beat heavy cream with sugar, vanilla sugar, and cream stabilizer until stiff peaks form. Preferably you do this in 2-3 batches.
- Cut the cake twice horizontally to get three equal sized cake layers.
- Place one cake layer into the springform pan.
- Brush or sprinkle with Kirschwasser. (optional)
- Top with the cherry filling and a ⅓ of the cream filling. Usually Black Forest Cake has only 1 layer of cherry filling.
- Place the second cake layer on top. Brush or sprinkle with Kirschwasser (optional).
- Place about ¾ cup of cream into a piping bag and place into the fridge.
- Spread half of the remaining cream topping on top of the cake layer.
- Place remaining cake layer on top. Place cake for about 15-30 min. into the fridge.
- Prepare chocolate shavings
- Cover cake with cream on top and the sides.
- Garnish with cream tuffs on top of the cake and place a cherry on each tuff.
- Cover top and sides with chocolate shavings.
in the fridge without a plastic cover.
Use white chocolate for a modern, festive variation of this cake for weddings or other celebrations.
Black Forest Cake FAQ
What is the difference between chocolate cake and black forest cake?
Even both cakes have usually chocolate cake layers they have very different fillings and frostings. The chocolate cake usually is filled and frosted with chocolate buttercream frosting. Black Forest cake is a layered cake that is filled with a special cherry filling and a whipped cream frosting.
What is the taste of Black Forest cake?
Black Forest cake tastes like the perfect combination of chocolate, cherries and whipped cream. The traditional addition of kirsch gives the cake a boozy flavor.
Does Black Forest Cake have alcohol in it? Can You Make Black Forest Cake Without Kirsch?
Traditionally Black Forest cake is made with Kirschwasser, a strong German cherry brandy. But you can make the cake without kirsch and switch the kirsch of cherry juice. Usually German cakes don´t add simple syrup to their cakes.
What country is Black Forest Cake from?
The cake got invented in Germany. Black Forest is a region in the Southern part of Germany, called Schwarzwald in German.
What Can I Use instead of Cherries in Black Forest Cake?
Even cherries are the traditional choice for the cake, strawberries and raspberries are a wonderful swap for cherries.