The Almighty Black Forest Cake

When you think German food, the Black Forest Cake is probably one of the first things that springs to mind. It has become THE international symbol of German cake culture par excellence.

Black Forest Cake Recipe |

But what makes it so popular?

Perhaps it’s the wonderful combination of fruity cherries, a soft chocolate sponge cake, and whipped cream – they’re just meant to be together.

Although these cakes may be chock-full of calories, you really should enjoy at least one piece to reward yourself for your baking talents.

As this delicacy tastes best when prepared over a period of two days, you will have enough time left for a little workout between baking and eating it.

Slice of Black Forest Cake |

Actually, there are a few similar German recipes that are quite older, but not as famous as the Black Forest cake. Its worldwide fame had its start in the 1930s, when it was first mentioned in print.

There are several theories about where the cake got its name. They range from the look of a traditional women’s dress in the Black Forest region to a previous variation of a cake recipe from Switzerland.

As no one seems to know exactly where it came from, different people have also claimed to have invented this particular gateau.

Well, let’s not worry about who baked it first, but rather treat ourselves to a homemade version!

Black Forest Cake Cupcakes |
This recipe can also be adapted to make cupcakes!

The last time I baked it  was for my father-in-law’s birthday, because he is crazy about Black Forest cakes. Whenever he gets the chance to order it in a pastry shop, he’s going to try it out.

Over the years, he has developed a sophisticated taste concerning this type of cake, which put me under pressure to bake an extremely good version of it.

And what can I say? This recipe made his day! Try it out yourself to treat your family to this popular cake.

Note: Ideally, you should try to bake the sponge two days before it’s needed. One day after baking, you can cut it much more easily since it won’t be as crumbly. On that day, prepare the filling and assemble, then let the finished cake develop its full flavor for one more day.

If you don’t have that much time to wait for it, you can also get a ready-baked sponge cake from your grocery store or bakery as an alternative. Or, if you’re in the mood for a less complex dessert to make in general, we’ve got another simple German-inspired two ingredient cake recipe that’s just for you, as well as a classic vanilla butter cake recipe you’re going to love.

Want another chocolatey German inspiration? Give this elaborate baumkuchen tart a try.

The recipe is for a 9″ springform baking pan, and you also need a cake ring. A stand mixer would also be helpful, but you could mix it yourself using good old elbow grease if you have to.

Ending up with a flat, deflated cake? Don’t worry, we’ve got some great creative fixes for cakes that won’t rise.

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Black Forest Cake Recipe |

Black Forest Cake

  • Author: Nina-Kristin Isensee



For the sponge

  • 5 eggs
  • 5 oz sugar
  • 5 oz plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 oz cocoa powder

For the filling

  • 1 1/2 lb sour cherries (either freshly defrosted from a jar)
  • 3 tbs cherry brandy (stay alcohol free with cherry juice if you like)
  • 3 tbs cherry jam
  • 9 fl oz whipping cream
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 2 sachets fruit tart glaze

For decorating

  • 18 fl oz whipping cream
  • 2 sachets vanilla sugar
  • 3 1/2 oz grated chocolate
  • 12 cherries


  1. Preheat the oven to 355°F (180°C). Grease or line the baking tin with parchment paper.
  2. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites until stiff and keep cold. Whisk the egg yolks with 2 tbs water. Slowly and gradually, add the sugar and keep whisking until the mixture is thick and fluffy. Put the egg whites onto the yolk-cream.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Sift over the egg whites.
  4. Now, gently fold everything into the yolk-cream.
  5. Bake for approx. 25 minutes. Get the sponge out of the baking tin and let it cool on a rack.

– At this point it would be ideal if you wait for one day to proceed –

  1. Cut the sponge twice horizontally so that you have three layers. Sprinkle each layer with some of the cherry brandy. Put a cake ring around your lowest sponge.
  2. Warm up the cherry jam and spread the bottom layer with it.
  3. Whisk the cream with vanilla sugar until stiff and spread over the jam. Take your second sponge and put on top.
  4. Bring the cherries and the sugar to boil. Blend the fruit tart gaze with 3 tbs water and thicken the cherries with it. If you have a jar of cherries, measure up 18 fl oz of the juice and thicken with the fruit gaze. Then stir in the cherries.
  5. Spread the thickened cherry-mix on the second layer. Put the last sponge on top and gently press on. Keep cool.

For the decoration

  1. Whisk the cream and the vanilla sugar until stiff. If you have a star-shaped nozzle, fill in 1/3 of the cream.
  2. Loosen the cake ring and (with the help of a palette knife) spread the cream on the cake, starting on top until fully covered with cream.
  3. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate on top and gently press it onto the edges with the help of a dough scraper or the palette knife.
  4. Garnish every piece of cake with a spot of cream from your star-shaped nozzle and a fresh cherry on top.


Black Forest Gateau |

About Nina-Kristin Isensee

Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.

27 thoughts on “The Almighty Black Forest Cake”

  1. Almighty indeed. You don’t know how much I love a good Black Forest cake, especially on birthdays. I always ask for one whenever it’s my birthday. My wife loves to bake for me so she always tries her hand at baking these. I distinctly remember teaching her how to bake this particular cake a decade ago, but she swears she looked for the recipe herself and perfected it.

  2. Wait, black forest cakes are from Germany? That’s new. Before this I just thought it was an American invention. While I was in Berlin, I only saw a couple of bakeries and didn’t really notice that they were selling these. In my defense, I was too busy eating currywurst, lol.

    Anyway, black forest isn’t really my cup of tea, I’m not a huge fan of putting liquor into sweets, nor am I a fan of sweet cherries. Is there maybe an alternative to these ingredients?

    • You might replace the liquor and use fruit juce or syrup instead, that will work as well. I havent’ tried but concerning the cherries, you could have a try with berries or peaches and use the according jam.

  3. I can well remember many a black forest gateaux being eaten whilst I was living in Germany. It was one of my favourite desserts after straight chocolate ice cream. I loved it and ate it as only a teenager could. The one thing I do remember is the wonderful morello cherries and cherry liquor in the gateau itself. Absolute heaven.

    Thank you for rekindling old memories. I suspect, though, my waist line would not manage the quantities I used to eat it in!

  4. This was a real favourite in the UK back in the 80s. We don’t see it as much these days but it’s still a fantastic dessert! The sponge is so moist yet remains firm underneath all the cream. I am reminded of Rum Baba – another favourite from that era!

  5. I agree… Lets not worry about who baked it first. I’m going to concentrate on who bakes it Friday,lol. I have never tried it, baking or eating. The picture makes me really want to, though! It looks so yummy and the recipe looks like something I can handle.

    • I was just thinking that this recipe looks a lot more do-able than what I expected. I always thought these cakes were so pretty, but I just figured it would be difficult to make. This definitely looks like something I could handle though. I hope my finished product is as impressive as the photos. Beautiful.

      I’d love to serve up something so pretty and tasty for a special occasion. I better make a practice one first. *wink*

  6. There is something superbly fascinating about black forest cake that i really go gaga about, the way it melts in the mouth, leaving you craving for more and more, oh, the whipping cream, yes, the grated chocolate, the cherries, the chocolate vermicelli, i could go on and on about how this cake captivates me, my whole being, my, the weaknesses of a chocoholic 😉 …anyway, snap! I always thought its mighty hard to make/bake this cake but now the truth is clearer…with a recipe in hand and a will/can-do-attitude, i can conquer mountains in the kitchen 🙂

  7. I cannot wait to try out this recipe. The pictures have my mouth watering! Forget calorie counting on the day it’s ready to eat. I’ll worry about that another day!

    • You got me stifling giggles with that catch, “forget calorie counting”….i stopped calorie counting a long time ago, with a sweet tooth, how on earth can you count calories?!…its a lost cause 🙂 …. indulge and live guilt-free, especially where that black forest cake is concerned 😉

      • From another person with a ridiculously persistent sweet tooth, I agree Diane. I do have to try to watch what I eat, especially the older I get, but some days… you just have to say “what the heck.”

        I don’t see myself virtuously smiling and turning down a piece of cake that looks this incredible. Haha. I’m laughing at the thought. Gimme!

        • @Zyni, sometimes i think i have a type of addiction where sweet stuff is concerned but i have no regrets whatsoever, a trick i use after indulging in too much, {Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in water…i hope am not living a lie with that} and of course brush my teeth and another guilt free day flies by 🙂

  8. The cupcake version looks much more appetizing to me. It might just be the use of the fresh cherry & the size alone that does it for me. I’m not the biggest fan of cakes & frosting. If I’m going to have a cake I like it naked as the day is long. No frosting for me, thank you.

  9. This… looks so amazing. I’m now craving Black Forest Cake (but my local bakeries don’t actually sell it! so your recipe will probably be tested soon!)

    I’m actually thankful to see your advice about waiting days. I tried different recipes with biscuit and the biscuit never came out quite the way I hoped it will, and the only time it was better was with leftovers which had soaked the cream in, like you mention about the third day. It was unplanned for, but now I have reference for it, and if I have space in my cooler, I’ll for sure wait the amount of time you suggest!

  10. Wow….You’ve made it sound really do-able! I’ve always wanted to make a Black Forest cake, but every other recipe I looked at seemed to be overly complicated. Yours is explained well, and I feel confident in giving it a go.

    I like that you can make the sponge ahead of time – definitely a labour saving tip for when you’re rushing to get ready for guests. And what a sharp intake of breath there will be at the table when I produce this beauty!!

    Thank you so much for this simple recipe.

    • Thank you, I am happy that you are going to give it a try! I hope it will work out fine and you can impress your guests with this recipe 😉

  11. Oh my god, this looks absolutely delicious! I never tried to make a cake similar to this and I actually never tried the German cuisine. If they have desserts like this I guess I should expand my knowledge more!
    Thank you for the recipe, looks really delicious!

  12. I can tell you there are lots of dessert like this, we have wonderful dishes that are definitely non-suitable for counting calories 😉 This one is a real classic, so you should have a try and indgule yourself!

  13. Man, just looking at that makes me want to cheat on my diet so bad! I remember when Haagen Daaz used to have an ice cream flavor named after it that was all the rage. Is it possible to substitute other fruits in for the cherries like raspberry and what not? Not that I hate cherries, it’s just that I has way too much as a kid and now, I can’t stand the flavor in my food, even if it is in desserts.

    • Wow, a Black-Forest-ice-cream sounds delicious, I would like to try that.
      Sure, you can replace the cherries if you like to, I haven’t tried this yet but I suppose other berries will work as well, like strawberries or blackberries, maybe blueberries. They’d make a nice substitute 🙂 So good luck when preparing your own Berry-Black-Forest cake!

  14. This indeed is the mighty black forest, the first time around i tried making a black forest cake it didn’t turn out quite right but thankfully your instructions especially with the decorations will be very helpful.

  15. I had no idea this was a German recipe. I love Black Forest cake. Never really thought about making it myself though. I always buy it at the bakery.

    • I can imagine that bakeries make wonderful cakes. Still, I hope that you try this recipe someday, too. It is not too hard if one takes enough time for preparation and stays patient. I’m sure it will taste excellent. However, enjoy this piece of German culture either way 🙂

  16. What a classic – I saw this being baked by competitors in “The Great British Bake-Off” last year and it seems very complicated.

    • Oh really? How great that this was being baked in a show like that. I would be interested in how it differs from the versions I know. But indeed, it needs a certain amount of preparation, but from time to time, it makes fun to create something special like this – I think it’s a good choice to show some skills in a TV show 😉

  17. I am half-German and it is a family tradition to make this cake for family gatherings or other similar celebrations.
    My mother used to make it but I have not tried it yet because I always think it would never taste or even look like it supposed to. Now looking how simple the recipe is I feel encouraged to try it myself.

    • That’s great, I always like the idea of having traditions like those, and making the same treats every time. If you plan on preparing it, I wish you good luck, and let’s know how it turned out!


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