Black Forest Cake

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Photo of Black Forest Cake

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cake has become one of our favorite staples for birthdays and other celebrations.

Invented in Germany in the early 20th century, this layer cake is made from layers of chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream and a cherry filling with Kirschwasser. The cake is moist and very flavorful.

While quite a bit of work to prepare, I think it's definitely worth the effort.


Chocolate Sponge Cake

  • 3 oz / 90g all-purpose flour
  • 1.75 oz / 50g pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 oz / 30 g cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 oz / 170g granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 oz / 60g melted butter

Cherry Filling

  • 1 lb / 450g canned morello cherries, drained (keep the juice)
  • 2 oz / 60ml kirschwasser
  • 4oz / 125g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp / 7g pectin powder
  • 1.5 oz / 45g cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water

Black Forest Cake

  • 2 cups / 500ml whipping cream
  • ¼ cup / 60ml simple syrup
  • 1/3 cup / 80ml kirschwasser
  • 1 cup / 250ml whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • chocolate chips
  • shaved dark chocolate


Chocolate Sponge Cake

  1. Grease a 10 in / 25cm spring form or use pan spray.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and cocoa powder
  3. Combine eggs, sugar and salt. In a mixing bowl, whisk constantly over a hot water bath until the temperature has reached about 110°F / 44°C.
  4. Whisk on high speed until the mixture has cooled, is foamy and has turned pale yellow.
  5. Incorporate the flour-cocoa mixture. Be careful to deflate the foam as little as possible.
  6. Incorporate the melted butter. Pour into spring form. Bake at 400°F / 200°C until done, usually about 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool, remove from form.

Cherry Filling

  1. Combine cherries with kirschwasser. Let soak for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Drain the cherries, retain the liquid.
  3. Set aside 14 nice cherries to place on top of the cake (optional).
  4. Add cherry juice to the liquid so that you get about 10 fl oz / 300ml of liquid
  5. Combine sugar and pectin powder.
  6. Dissolve the cornstarch in water.
  7. Stir sugar, pectin powder and cornstarch slurry into the cherry liquid. Set over medium heat and carefully bring to a boil. The mixture should thicken rapidly. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Carefully stir in the cherries. Let cool and refrigerate.

Assembling the Cake

  1. Cut the chocolate sponge cake into 3 layers of equal thickness.
  2. Combine kirschwasser and simple syrup.
  3. Combine about one third of the syrup-kirschwasser mixture with 2 cups / 500ml of whipping cream. Whisk to stiff peaks, reserve (refrigerate if necessary)
  4. Combine the remaining syrup-kirschwasser mixture with about ¼ cup of cherry juice (optional).
  5. Brush the bottom layer with a generous amount of syrup-kirschwasser-juice mixture.
  6. Using a pastry bag with a large plain tip, pipe a thick ring of whipped cream around the edge of the sponge. Pipe another concentric ring about halfway between edge and center. Pipe a bit of whipping cream in the center.
  7. Fill the spaces between the rings with half of the cherry filling.
  8. Place the second sponge layer on top of the first, press on gently. Again, brush generously with the syrup-kirschwasser-juice mixture.
  9. Repeat piping on the cream and adding the filling.
  10. Put on the top layer, brush with the remaining syrup-kirschwasser-juice mixture.
  11. Combine 1 cup / 250ml whipping cream with 1 tbsp of sugar. Whisk to stiff peaks. Spread evenly over top and sides of the cake so that the sponges are fully covered.
  12. Top the cake with cherries, shaved chocolate and chocolate chips.

The cake tastes best when prepared a day in advance and refrigerated overnight. For the best look, assemble the cake up to step 10, refrigerate overnight and finish the next day a few hours before serving.

Photo of Whole Black Forest Cake

This recipe follows the wonderful Black Forest Cake recipe in


Your thoughts on making the Black Forest Cake

Hi there, your Black forest looks wonderful. Did you try the Chocolate sponge cake in the Professional Pastry Chef first and then modify it? I am wondering if you tried it made with cornstarch and what you thought of it. Also did you use dutch process or alkalized cocoa? The cornstarch in the cherry compote seems to be quite a bit, does it taste like cornstarch and is it very thick?
Thanks for sharing some more insites into your experience making this cake.

Flour, Cornstarch, Cocoa

Hi Judi,

I have tried - and not been very successful in making sponges with pure cake flour, the seem to lack stability and volume. I have not experimented with cornstarch-all-purpose flour mixtures (should do that!), but in my German baking books they use 3 parts of flour (Type 405 which is roughly equivalent to pastry flour) and 1 part of cornstarch.

I am usually using dutch process cocoa.

The cornstarch amount in the cherry filling is OK, just make sure to boil the mixture for a little bit (1-2 minutes). It does not taste starchy but gets quite thick when cooled, which is good because it adds stability to the cake.