Best Ever Black Forest Cake
This Black Forest Cake is a decadent chocolate and cherry cake with Chantilly cream, soaked in cherry liqueur. Topped with ganache and cherries!
My version of this classic German cherry chocolate cake, also known as ‘Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte’ has all the things you love about the traditional cake, except my version is just a little different with even more cherry flavor!
What is a Black Forest Cake?
First off, this isn’t your classic German Black Forest Cake. It’s just my version, but all the elements are there! All the delicious things you love about this classic German Cake, just shuffled around and made a little differently. In my opinion, better!
You get all the things you love about Black Forest cake:
- Chocolate sponge – I worked on developing the softest chocolate sponge cake and I’m super happy to finally share it!
- Chantilly Cream – soft, but stiff enough to pipe and hold the weight of the cake.
- Cherry sauce – instead of soaked cherries. I decided to make this into a sauce because the cherry flavor is stronger. Plus, the texture is really nice.
- Chocolate Sauce – I love the additional of my one-bowl chocolate sauce because it just intensified the rich chocolate flavor of this cake.
- Rich Cherry Flavor – from the cherry sauce, cherry liqueur, and the cherries on top!
Let’s talk sponge cake
I developed this cake over two days. I wanted something really soft, something that worked and something that wasn’t overly sweet but had a rich chocolate, cocoa flavor. 4 batches of testing later and we have a really soft cake that stays soft for days! Especially when it’s soaked with the simple syrup in this recipe. I have a vanilla one coming up, but you can grab it in this Strawberry Cake!
Ingredients You Need To Make Black Forest Cake
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
- Cherries – for this recipe I used a mixture of canned cherries and fresh cherries. I used the canned cherries to make the sauce and used the juice in the jar to make the sauce too. This is different from canned cherries in syrup which I would not recommend using. I used fresh cherries on top. You can use frozen or fresh cherries to make the sauce and you can use maraschino cherries to top this cake. If using fresh cherries, make sure you pit them using a cherry pitter.
- Water – or the juice from the jarred cherries.
- Corn starch – also known as corn flour. This is used to thicken the sauce.
- Sugar – I used granulated sugar for the cherry filling.
- Salt – I used fine salt.
- Kirsch – this is a cherry liqueur. It helps intensify this cake and make it a little naughty. No, you will not get drunk eating this cake but if you don’t want to or can’t use the liqueur, you can leave it out.
This is just made up of kirsch (optional), water and sugar. Boil them together and then cool completely before using.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
- All-purpose flour – I tested this with cake flour, disaster. It needs the strength of all-purpose flour also known as plain flour.
- Cocoa powder – I used unsweetened natural cocoa powder. Make sure you sift your cocoa powder before using.
- Baking powder – helps this cake rise.
- Salt – I used fine salt.
- Eggs – make sure your eggs are at room temperature before using. When separating, make sure you don’t get any egg yolks in the whites. I like to separate them in a small bowl before adding it into the separate mixing bowls.
- Cream of tartare – this is an acidic powder found in the baking isle of your supermarket which helps stabilize your eggs whites as you whip them to stop them from deflating or overwhipping.
- Caster sugar – also known as superfine sugar is the best sugar to use for the cake. It dissolves into the egg whites quicker without overwhipping your eggs.
- Warm water – just warm out of the tap.
- Vanilla extract – don’t use alcohol based vanilla extracts for this recipe as it can cause your meringue and eggs to deflate.
How to make Black Forest Cake!
- Mix the corn starch and 1/2 the cherry juice (or water) together.
- Chop up your cherries.
- Add to a large pot with sugar, remaining water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
- Add corn starch slurry while mixing.
- Mix until the mixture goes clear and thickens. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside and allow to cool.
- Add all the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. When the sugar is dissolved, take off the heat and allow to cool completely.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
- Add the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder to a bowl. Mix together.
- To a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar while slowly adding the sugar.
- Until you reach a thick and glossy meringue.
- In a aspirate bowl add the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract until you reach a nice thick and pale mixture. This will take about 7-8 minutes.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture and fold through gently.
- Add the egg whites in three batches and fold through gently.
- Oil the bottom of your cake tin (not the sides). Line with baking paper.
- Divide the batter between the cake tins. Bake
- Allow to cool in the tins once baked.
- Loosen from the tin using a sharp knife.
- Trim the very tops off the cakes and then trim in half. You’ll have 4 cake layers all up.
- Add some Chantilly cream on the bottom of your serving plate or cake board and spread.
- Add the first cake layer.
- Brush with cooled simple syrup.
- Add a thin layer of cream.
- Pipe a ring of cream on top.
- Fill with 1/3 of the cherry sauce.
- Add the next layer of cake on top. Repeat this until all cake layers are on.
- Cover the top and sides of the cake with cream. Make sure you have enough to pipe swirls on top of the cake.
- Pipe a ring of cream on top to hold the chocolate sauce.
- Cover the sides of the cake with chocolate curls.
- Cover the top with a thin layer of chocolate sauce.
- Add swirls of cream on top of the cake.
- Decorate with fresh cherries or maraschino cherries.
Tips and Tricks For Recipe Success!
- Keep it moist! – keeping your cake layers moist using simple syrup is key to make sure your cake doesn’t dry out, although my chocolate sponge cake is already pretty moist.
- Use high quality ingredients – this cake relies on good quality ingredients for great tasting results.
- Measure your ingredients properly! The best way to do this is by using kitchen scales and not cup measurements. Specifically for the sponge cake! I know I’ve included the cup measurements; I’ve done that purely for people who refuse to use kitchen scales, but if you’re serious about getting the best results, grab yourself a pair of kitchen scales.
- Trim your cakes to get flat, even looking cake layers. I used a cake leveler, but you can use a serrated knife.
- Chill before serving – it’s so nice served chilled and holds it shape much better too. Plus, the cream needs to be kept cold to be safe to eat.
- Make sure the sauce isn’t warm when you put it on top of the cream.
- I wrapped my cake tins in cake tin strips. These help the cake rise nice and flat. You soak them in water and wrap your cake tins with them before adding the batter. Optional, but I like to do it.
- If using fresh or frozen cherries to make the sauce – make sure you pit the cherries. For the sauce, you’ll need to use water. To make the sauce a cherry color, use some food gel coloring. 2 drops of red and one drop of purple. This is optional.
- When preparing your cake tins, oil the bottom only. Not the sides. You want the cake to stick to the side of the tin to retain its shape as it cools.
Frequently Asked Questions about Black Forest Cake
How do I store this?
You can store this in the fridge for up to three days.
Can I use fresh or frozen cherries for the sauce?
Yes! I used canned cherries for the sauce because fresh cherries are super expensive where I am. I bought a small batch of them to top the cake with, but if you have access to lots of fresh cherries you can use them to make the sauce. You will need to pit them using a cherry pitter. You can also use frozen cherries to make the sauce too. No need to thaw them. However, because of the added moisture level, you may need to add a tbsp extra of corn starch.
Why is the sauce thickened using corn starch?
I decided to use corn starch, also known as corn flour to thicken the sauce to make it spreadable. In my opinion, the sauce gives the cake a stronger cherry flavor than adding soaked cherries. Without the corn starch, the sauce will not thicken. Alternatively, you can skip making the sauce and make this cake in the traditional way: Soaked Cherries.
- 3 cups (600g) fresh or canned cherries, pitted
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp kirsch (cherry liqueur)
- To prepare the cherries you’ll need a cherry pitter. Make sure your cherries are washed and dried, then pit them using a cherry pitter. Place into a large mixing bowl along with the sugar and kirsch and fold through. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
- Once soaked, add the soaked cherries to the cake once the cream has been added in each layer.
Is this cake gluten free?
No. This cake has flour. I haven’t tested it using gluten free flour, but if you do, let me know how it went and I’ll add notes to this section!
How long does this cake last for?
This cake lasts for 3 days in the fridge.
Can I freeze Black Forest Cake?
Technically, yes, but the problem is the cream. Cream doesn’t freeze and thaw well. It will likely split which is why I wouldn’t recommend freezing this cake. You can certainly freeze the cake if you’re making it ahead of time. Wrap each cake tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw completely before using.
Can I make a non-alcoholic version of this cake?
Yes! This cake is loaded with Kirsch, a cherry liqueur to intensify the cherry flavor but you can leave it out altogether.
Here’s some of my favorite cake recipes!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @thescranline on Facebook and Instagram!
Black Forest Cake
- 2 cups (400 g) jarred cherries in juice (not syrup) pitted and chopped
- 1 cup (250 ml) water or jar juice divided
- 8 tbsp corn starch/flour
- 1 1/2 cups (315 g) granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 3 tbsp kirsch cherry liqueur
- 1 drop purple food gel optional
- 2 drops red food gel optional
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) boiling water
- 1/2 cup (105 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp kirsch
Chocolate Sponge Cake
- 1 cup (150 g) all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 1/2 cup (50 g) cocoa powder sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 10 large eggs room temperature and divided
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup (210 g) caster sugar divided
- 3 tbsp warm water just above room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 12 fresh cherries or maraschino cherries to decorate
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) heavy cream cold (see notes)
- 1/3 cup (65 g) powdered sugar sifted (see notes)
- 1 1/2 cups (375 g) mascarpone cheese
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract see notes
- 1 tbsp kirsch
- 1 cup (200 g) chocolate shavings (see notes)
- 1/2 batch Chocolate Sauce
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup(125ml) of the cherry juice or water and corn starch and use a whisk to combine. Set aside. If using water, add the food color (optional) at this point and mix until evenly mixed in.
- Chop the cherries into small pieces and add half to a large saucepan along with the sugar, remaining cherry juice (or water), lemon juice and salt. Set the other half aside for later. Stir continuously and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Then lower to medium heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
- Add the corn starch mixture, purple and red food gel (optional) and stir through until the mixture turns glossy and thickens. Stir for another 2 minutes then turn the heat off and add the remaining cherries and the kirsch. Stir through and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool at room temperature. This mixture can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the fridge.
- Add the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, take off the heat and add the kirsch. Mix and set aside to cool completely before using.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
- Preheat a fan forced oven to 150C / 300F (conventional oven to 170C / 340F). Spray only the bottom (not sides) of two 8-inch cake tins with oil spray and line the bottom with baking paper.
- To a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- To a separate large bowl add the egg whites and cream of tartar. Use an electric hand beater to whisk until frothy. Slowly add 1/2 cup (105g) of the sugar while the mixer is on high speed. Once all the sugar has been added continue mixing for 90 seconds. The mixture will thicken and become glossy. Take care not to overwhip the mixture otherwise it will result in large air bubbles in your cake.
- To a separate bowl, add the egg yolks, remaining sugar, water, and vanilla extract and use your electric hand mixer to whip until pale, thickened, and creamy, about 5 minutes. The mixture should fall off in ribbons when you lift the beaters.
- Sift 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture and use a spatula to fold through. Then repeat with another 1/3 of the dry ingredients until all of it is combined. Take care not to overmix.
- Add half the meringue and gently fold through with a spatula. Then add the other half and repeat.
- Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake in the middle rack of your oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once baked, allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before carefully running a knife around the sides to release them. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Add all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (glass or metal, not plastic) and use an electric hand mixer fitted with beaters or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to whip until you reach stiff peaks. This usually takes about 3 - 4 minutes to achieve. What you’re looking for is a smooth but stiff whipped cream, not one that looks split. If it looks split or separated, congratulations, you’re on your way to making butter! Once finished, fold through the kirsch (optional)
Let’s build and decorate!
- Add your first layer of cake to your serving plate. Brush with simple syrup and add about 1/4 cup of Chantilly cream. Fit the end of a piping bag with an open star tip and pipe a tube of frosting around the top of the cream. Add 1/3 of the cherry mixture and spread evenly using a spoon. Then add the next layer of cake and repeat until all cake has been laid on.
- For the top of the cake repeat this process but add chocolate sauce instead of cherry filling. Coat the sides of the cake with cream. You should have cream left over to pipe on top of the cake. Spread the cream around the sides of the cake as evenly as you can. Stick the chocolate shavings around the sides of the cake.
- To finish, pipe swirls of cream on top of the cake and add cherries on top.