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Black Forest Gateaux recipe

Black Forest Gateaux recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Cake
  • Classic cakes
  • Layer cake

The classic chocolate and cherry cream cake! Chocolate sponge cake is soaked in Kirsch syrup, then layered with buttercream, cherries and cream. It's super-indulgent and perfect for special occasions.

7 people made this

IngredientsServes: 12

  • For the Cake
  • 100g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 10g vanilla sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 100g baking chocolate, melted
  • For the Syrup
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • For the Buttercream
  • 50g butter
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • Other
  • cherries in syrup or in alcohol
  • 2 teaspoons icing sugar
  • 250ml double cream
  • chocolate shavings to decorate the cake (you can do it with a peeler)

MethodPrep:3hr ›Cook:30min ›Extra time:1hr chilling › Ready in:4hr30min

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C / Gas 5.
  2. For the cake: In a large bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into the melted chocolate.
  4. Choose a mould like a souffle dish, coat with flour and pour in the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes (a knife should come out clean). Remove from dish and cool.
  5. For the syrup: Add sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a saucepan. Heat until it starts to bubble. Stir in Kirsch and leave for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
  6. Slice the cake into three horizontal pieces using a large serrated knife. Separate the pieces and soak each piece in 1/3 syrup. Let cool.
  7. For the buttercream: Beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs yolks and Kirsch. Beat until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  8. In another bowl, whip double cream with 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside.
  9. To assemble: Transfer one slice of cake to a serving plate. Spread with 1/2 buttercream. Layer 1/2 cherries on top, then cover with 1/3 sweetened cream.
  10. Arrange the second sponge cake layer on top. Spread with remaining buttercream. Layer cherries on top, then with 1/3 cream.
  11. Arrange the third sponge cake layer on top. Spread remaining sweetened cream on top. Decorate with cherries and chocolate shavings. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or maximum of 48 hours before serving).

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(4)

German Black Forest Cake

Authentic German Black Forest Cake or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. This is the best-known German gateau there is. Three layers of chocolate sponge filled with cherries, Kirsch, and whipped cream, and garnished with chocolate shavings. Amazing!

THE cake when it comes to German baking. The famous Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cake. Everybody in Germany knows its name, everybody ate it, many people have baked it as well. Despite its impressive looks, the black forest gateau is easier to make at home than you might think.

Just bake one chocolate sponge cake and fill it with a thickened cherry and Kirsch sauce and whipped cream. Sprinkle the sides with chocolate shavings. That&rsquos pretty much it! Compared to the Dobos Torte or the Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake, this black forest gateau is really easy.

Ingredients and How to Make Black Forest Cake

This is what you’ll need to make the most delicious and simple black cherry forest cake:

  1. Chocolate cake – I bake the batter in two 8-inch pans, then cut each cake layer in half to get a total of 4 layers.
  2. Cherry syrup to soak the cake layers, and cherries to add between the layers. The syrups makes the cake ultra moist – my favorite part of this recipe.
  3. Whipped cream – to frost the cake and layers.
  4. Chocolate shavings – I used this method to make chocolate shavings. You can use store-bought ones, although they’re usually quite expensive. If you find this part hard, you can grate chocolate using a microplane or vegetable peeler and cover only the top of the cake with chocolate.

What goes in Black Forest Cake

1. Chocolate cake layers

Here’s what you need to make the three cake layers:

Nothing groundbreaking here! Just a note on a couple of things:

Eggs – Make sure they are what’s sold as “large eggs”, which are 55 – 60g / 2oz each. These are industry-standard sizes in Australia and the US. If your eggs are significantly larger or smaller in size, just weigh different eggs and use 330 – 360g / 12 oz in total (including shell) or 300 – 325g / 11 oz in total excluding shell (this is useful if you need to use a partial egg to make up the total required weight. Crack eggs, beat whites and yolks together, THEN pour into a bowl to measure out what you need).

Use at room temperature – Eggs need to be at room temperature and not fridge-cold, because they aerate better when beaten. This is particularly important for Black Forest Cake because the sponge layers rely solely on the eggs to make them rise they do not use baking powder or baking soda like other cakes do. A quick way to warm up fridge-cold eggs: Place eggs in a large bowl, cover with warm tap water (just warm, not hot) and leave for 5 minutes. Wipe dry (to avoid residual water dripping into bowl), then use per recipe and

Cocoa – Use Dutch process cocoa powder if you can because the colour and flavour is more intense than regular cocoa powder. Regular, unsweetened cocoa powder can however be used here instead – there’s plenty of other flavours going on so it won’t compromise the outcome!

2. Cherry layer and syrup

Black Forest Cake is sandwiched with cherries, and the cake layers are also soaked with cherry syrup which imparts flavour and moisture to the sponge layers which are often (sadly!) too dry otherwise. Here’s what you need:

Just a note on a couple of items:

Morello / sour cherries in a can or jar, in syrup or juice – Yes, jarred not fresh cherries! I’ve tried this cake with fresh cherries and although lovely when summer cherries are in their prime, the cake just isn’t the same. Canned fruits are softer and juicier, and just make more sense here. Even when fresh cherries are cooked down to make a sauce (like I do with blueberries) the texture just wasn’t as good. So, canned cherries it is!

Also, we use the flavoured syrup from the jar as the base for the cherry syrup used to brush the cake layers.

Can’t find canned cherries? Use frozen pitted cherries + cherry juice instead. Thaw completely (reserve liquid). Top up using cherry juice to make up the cherry liquid called for in the recipe

Kirsch or cherry liqueur – This is a German-origin, cherry-flavoured brandy. Authentic Black Forest Cake uses it in the cherry syrup. If you prefer not to use alcohol, just substitute with more reserved cherry juice.

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 50g good-quality cocoa powder, sifted
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 1 x 425g tin pitted black cherries in fruit juice
  • 2tbsp kirsch or cassis
  • 2tbsp good-quality black cherry jam
  • 200ml whipping cream
  • Handful fresh cherries to decorate, if available

Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F/Gas Mark 4. Lightly butter 2 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins and line the base with baking parchment.

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, whisk for 3–4 minutes, until pale and slightly thickened. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the cocoa powder and 25g chocolate, roughly chopped.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add 1 spoonful to the chocolate mixture to loosen slightly, then carefully fold in the rest using a large metal spoon. Divide the chocolate mix between the cake tins and bake in the middle of the oven for 18 minutes, until the sponges are no longer wobbly in the middle when you shake the tins gently. They will be puffed up when you take them out of the oven and will sink a little during cooling.

Leave the cakes to cool in their tins, then slide a palette knife around the outside of each to ease from the tins. Discard the baking parchment and place 1 cake on a serving plate.

Drain the cherries, reserving the juice. Mix 2 tablespoons cherry juice with the kirsch or cassis and drizzle over the cake on the plate. Evenly spread the jam on top. Softly whip the cream and spread half of it over the jam. Cut two-thirds of the cherries in half and place on the cream. Finely grate the remaining 25g chocolate and sprinkle half over the cherries.

Top with the second cake and spread the rest of the cream on top. Place the reserved whole cherries around the top edge. Scatter the remaining chocolate in the middle and arrange the fresh cherries in the centre.

I love the cherry filling in a Black Forest Cake, normally there is only one layer of the filling but because it is my family’s favorite part I double it. Some recipes just use whole cherries instead of the traditional cherry filling that you usually find in Germany, I prefer the cooked filling because it holds up longer and doesn’t bleed into the cream.

Steps to assemble a Black Forest Cake

  1. First cake layer: Use the layer that was the top while baking. This way you can use the bottom that is more even on top. Put a cake ring (or the ring from the springform pan) around the cake to make assembling easier and assemble the cake on a cake platter because transferring it would be difficult.
  2. Drizzle with cherry juice or kirsch and top with half of the cherry filling: Leave a 1-inch border to the edge of the cake so the cherries don’t ooze out.
  3. Top with 1/4 of the whipped cream: Use an offset spatula to smooth out the cream
  4. Repeat Steps 1., 2., and 3. Use the middle cake layer in the middle
  5. Top with the cake layer that was the bottom while baking, smooth side up and spread 1/3 of the remaining whipped cream on top
  6. Remove springform ring and spread the remaining cream with a spatula around the sides of the cake until completely covered in whipped cream.

What is Black Forest Cake?

This is my rendition of the traditional German black forest cake aka Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Today’s towering beauty has 4 parts:

  1. My go-to chocolate layer cake
  2. Dark sweet cherries
  3. Fluffy vanilla whipped cream
  4. Dark chocolate ganache

Black Forest Gâteau

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan) mark 4. Brush a little of the melted butter over the base and sides of a 20.5cm (8in) diameter, 9cm (3½in) deep cake tin. Line the base and sides of the tin with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, cornflour, cocoa powder, coffee powder and baking powder together three times - this helps to add air and makes sure all the ingredients are well mixed.

Put the egg yolks, sugar and 100ml (3½fl oz) cold water into a freestanding mixer and whisk for 8min until the mixture leaves a trail for 3sec.

Add the rest of the melted butter, pouring it around the edge of the bowl so the mixture doesn't lose any air, then quickly fold it in, followed by the sifted flour mixture in two batches.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold a spoonful into the cake mixture to loosen. Carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites, making sure there are no white blobs left. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45-50min until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Leave the gâteau in the tin for 10min, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

When the cake is cold, trim the top to make a flat surface. Turn over so the top becomes the base. Carefully cut into three horizontally with a long serrated bread knife. Drain the cherries, reserving 250ml (9fl oz) of the syrup. Put the syrup into a pan and simmer to reduce by half. Stir in the kirsch. Brush the hot syrup on to each layer of the cake - including the top - using all the liquid.

Lightly whip the cream with the icing sugar. Spread one third over the bottom layer and cover with half the cherries. Top with the next cake layer and repeat with another third of the cream and the remaining cherries. Top with the final cake layer and spread over the remaining cream. Decorate with fresh cherries, chocolate scrolls and a dusting of cocoa powder.

Making the Cherry Filling:

  • I used regular red cherries because they’re widely available. But sour cherries will work if you’re able to find them! I don’t suggest using maraschino cherries.
  • Fresh OR frozen cherries will work for the filling. Using frozen will also save you time since they’re almost always already pitted. I strongly suggest using fresh cherries for the decorating! If you can’t find them, simply leave them off.
  • Kirsch is a cherry liqueur that’s made of cherry juice, cane sugar, and brandy. The brand I use is Schladerer schwarzwalder.

Lottie’s Black Forest Gateau

This gâteau is a retro family favourite in our house. It is an intensely chocolatey cherry combo that seems to please all demographics, from the ‘I-remember-these-from-the-70s’ types to the ‘I-hate-cherries-but-this-is-all-right’ types. Just make sure to serve with a fork to hand it tends to be too messy for fingers.


For the soured-cream sponge:

100g light muscovado sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the whisked sponge:
For the filling and sides:

390g jar of cherries in kirsch

200g 54% dark chocolate, very finely grated

To decorate:


You will need:

20cm round cake tins x 2, greased, then base-lined with baking paper

1 large piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle

1 baking sheet, lined with baking paper

2 small paper piping bags

Buy the book

This is a recipe is taken from The Great British Bake Off: Love to Bake.


Step 1
Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4. First, make the soured-cream sponge. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, both types of sugar, and the cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl until combined.

Step 2
Using an electric hand whisk, whisk the eggs, soured cream and vanilla in another bowl until fluffy. Using the same hand whisk, mix the sunflower oil into the cooled butter, then whisk in 300ml water to form an emulsion. Gradually pour in the egg and soured-cream mixture, whisking until smooth.

Step 3
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk again until smooth. Divide the mixture equally between the lined cake tins and level with a palette knife. Bake for 40-45 minutes until risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean.

Step 4
Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make the whisked sponge. Grease and re-line the cake tins. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, on high speed for about 10 minutes, until thick and mousse-like and the mixture leaves a ribbon trail when you lift the whisk.

Step 5
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold this into the egg mixture, taking care not to knock out the air. Gently pour the cooled melted butter down the inside of the bowl and carefully fold in.

Step 6
Divide the mixture equally between the lined tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until springy to the touch. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the jam in a small pan until melted. Drain the cherries (reserving the juice), chop them a little and stir into the jam. Set aside to cool completely.

Step 7
Pour the juice into a small pan and bring to the boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, or until the syrup is reduced to about 4tbsp. Brush 1tbsp of the syrup over the top of each cake. Whip 550ml of the cream with the icing sugar to soft peaks. Place 1 soured-cream sponge on a plate, spread with jam and a little cream, then top with a whisked sponge and repeat the jam and cream. Place the second soured-cream sponge on top and repeat, finishing with the last whisked sponge (use the most attractive, flattest cake for the top).

Step 8
Using a palette knife, spread the remaining whipped cream around the sides, but not the top of the cake. Place the finely grated chocolate on a dinner plate. Carefully, holding the top and bottom of the cake, lift it and roll the sides in the grated chocolate until coated. Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks. Spread a little on top of the cake to cover and spoon the remainder into the piping bag with the star nozzle. Pipe rosettes of cream around the top edge.

Step 9
To decorate, melt the white and dark chocolates separately in small heatproof bowls set over small pans of barely simmering water. Dip half the cherries in white chocolate and half in dark. Place on the lined baking sheet and chill for 5 minutes, until set. Pour the remaining melted white and dark chocolate into separate paper piping bags and snip off the ends. Drizzle the white chocolate cherries with the dark chocolate and the dark chocolate cherries with white chocolate. Chill for 10 minutes, until set, then arrange on top of the cake.


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