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Black Forest Cake

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Black forest cake is a traditional German torte originating from a bakery in the Black Forest. This recipe is a more chocolate-rich version of the original. 

Black forest cake is a traditional German torte originating from a bakery in the Black Forest. * Recipe on

I developed a whole new appreciation for the original fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm last year on our trip to Germany. We drove through part of the Black Forest – the setting for many of the tales. It’s absolutely gorgeous, but a dense forest is not someplace I’d want to be alone after reading the tales! You know what I mean if you’ve read the original and not just watched the Disney movies. On our drive, we stopped in Triberg to hike a waterfall and try Black Forest Cake since that’s where the cake was originally created. No vacation is complete without a little dessert tasting, am I right? Besides, I wanted to know how “real” Black Forest cake tasted. 

Black forest cake is a traditional German torte originating from a bakery in the Black Forest. * Recipe on

And here’s where I might sound a little scandalous… we like this version better! The original has a very mild chocolate flavor, and you all know how I feel about chocolate in my chocolate cake. But it was good, and a few months after our trip I found myself wanting to bake Black Forest cake to pair with a German dinner. That is, as soon as I could find kirschwasser – the cherry liquor used in the cake.

Black forest cake is a traditional German torte originating from a bakery in the Black Forest. * Recipe on

That was an adventure. Lucky you who live in states that don’t have an ABC. The Virginia ABC stores here have the strangest selection, and German cherry liquor (kirsch) for baking isn’t something either of the two local-ish stores carry. So I ended up with some other cherry liquor and results that weren’t quite as good. It’s worth hunting for good cherry liquor. If you can’t find it, or don’t want to use liquor, substitute the syrup from the morello cherries. These are the darker sour cherries (like this), not the bright red ones used for topping milkshakes or pineapple upside down cake. If you can’t find them, sour cherry pie filling is suggested as a substitute.

Black forest cake is a traditional German torte originating from a bakery in the Black Forest. * Recipe on

I hope you enjoy this Black Forest Cake recipe!

Black forest cake is a traditional German torte originating from a bakery in the Black Forest. * Recipe on

Black Forest Cake

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Chocolate and cherries make a lovely combination in this famous German layer cake. This is a delicious black forest cake recipe sure to please!



  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 4 large eggs


  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 12 ounce jar Morello (sour) cherries, My jar was 24.7 oz/700g total weight, 12 oz/340 g drained weight
  • 11/2 tablespoons cherry liquor (kirsch), *see notes
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp cherry juice (from the jar)
  • 6 ounces grated dark chocolate
  • fresh cherries for garnish, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F Grease two 9" round cake pans with butter or nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside
  2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and eggs. Gradually beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate chips and mix just until well blended. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  5. Bake the cakes until a tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto wire cooling racks to cool completely. You may also turn them out onto plastic wrap and wrap well to either freeze for later (thaw in refrigerator overnight) or refrigerate a few hours until well chilled. TIP: Well chilled cakes are easier to level and frost. 

To fill and decorate the cake:

  1. Remove the cherries from the syrup and set aside both the cherries and syrup - you'll need both!
  2. Make the whipped cream. Place the whipping cream in a large bowl and use either the whisk attachment on your stand mixer or a hand mixer to beat. Start at low speed, then work your way up to high, adding the powdered sugar and cherry juice as you mix. Beat on high until stiff peaks form, then stop and set aside. 
  3. Use a long serrated knife or cake leveler to cut each  Place the first layer on a cake board or plate and brush a coating of cherry syrup (or kirsch) over the surface. Spread about a 1/3" layer of whipping cream onto the cake and top with 1/3 of the cherries. Repeat with the remaining layers.
  4. Use the rest of the whipped cream to coat the sides and top of the cake. Decorate with the grated chocolate and fresh cherries (if using). Refrigerate the cake until you're ready to serve. Since this cake uses a whipped topping, it is best served the day it is assembled since the frosting will gradually deflate. 


Adapted from King Arthur Flour.

*Use syrup/juice from the sour cherries as a substitute for the liquor if you can't find it or would like to omit the alcohol. 

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Black forest cake is a traditional German torte originating from a bakery in the Black Forest. * Recipe on


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  • Reply
    December 28, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    I made this cake using a boxed mix which I enriched and then proceeded with the rest of the instructions. Let me tell you, this cake was the crowning glory of our Octoberfest dinner with friends!

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      January 16, 2019 at 3:19 pm

      I’m so glad to hear this! And an Octoberfest dinner sounds like a lovely way to celebrate with friends!

  • Reply
    May 10, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    It says To use two 9 inch round cake pan but in the picture it’s a four layer of the cake am I cutting the cake in half

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 2:33 am

    Hi Mary !!!
    Can I substitute cake flour with all purpose flour
    And if I can how much I will need all purpose flour
    Thank you very much
    The cake looks awesome I can’t wait to make it

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      February 26, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      You can actually make your own cake flour by measuring out a cup of all purpose, removing 2 tablespoons, and adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 13, 2017 at 11:56 am

    You have Kirsch in the recipe but it doesn’t say where or how its used in the instructions
    Is it to soak the cherries in first ?

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      December 14, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      You would use it in place of the cherry syrup in the instructions, so brushed onto the cake layers before adding the filling. I updated the instructions for clarity. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Brenda Predazzi
    February 14, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Hi mary! Is there a good substitute for buttermilk? thank you!

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      February 21, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Regular milk (even nondairy) can work. If you’d like to make a quick buttermilk substitute, add a splash of lemon juice or white vinegar to the milk and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to slightly curdle. That way it’s closer to buttermilk’s thicker consistency.

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