A rich, dark and indulgent Black Forest Cake with three layers of chocolate sponge laced with kirsch. Each luscious layer is enveloped in sweetened double cream and cherries. Topped with a deliciously dark chocolate ganache, this incredible cake makes a divine showstopper.
My husband has been asking me to bake his favourite Black Forest Cake for months and months! Finally his cake dreams came true when I decided it was high time I added this beauty to my website.
Chocolate sponge cake
The chocolate cake part of this recipe is based on the sponge I used for my very popular Kinder Cake. I've been told that it's the best chocolate cake people have ever baked and I'd have to agree.
It's so chocolatey, very rich and fudge-like and is the perfect texture for lacing with kirsch. The sponge holds up really well when stacked and filled.
Granted, there is a bit of extra work that goes into making the chocolate sponge. This is by no means an all-in-one bowl recipe. The extra effort will be so worth it, you won't want to make chocolate cake any other way!
To go straight to the recipe scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Why is it called Black Forest Cake?
Time for a history lesson!
Black Forest Cake originated in Germany but is not named after the Black Forest Schwarzwald mountain region, rather, it gets its name from kirsch alcohol made from Black Forest sour cherries, known as Schwarzwälder Kirsch or Kirsch Wasser: cherry firewater.
You can expect a Black Forest Cake or Black Forest Gateau to be compiled of chocolate sponge sandwiched with cream and cherries soaked in Kirsch.
The Black Forest Cake became very popular in the UK in the 1970s and the name seems to be interchangeable between cake and gateau. Either way, it's a classic and iconic bake - I'm sure a Black Forest Cake adorns many dinner tables as a showstopper centrepiece dessert, especially around Christmas time.
Over the years there have been many iterations of the traditional dessert ranging from very light and moist sponges covered in piped cream and chocolate shavings to richer, denser versions just like the recipe I'm sharing with you today.
Cream and cherry layers
The baked chocolate sponges are pricked and soaked with the kirsch from the jar of cherries. Do this as soon as the cakes come out of the oven so that they drink up the liquor and take on its flavour.
Between each cake, add a thick layer of double cream mixed with icing sugar.
The icing sugar helps to thicken the double cream and stabilise it. Put a layer of deliciously sweet Kirsch soaked cherries on top of the cream so that each forkful contains a heavenly mixture of chocolate cake, cream and boozy cherries.
Dark chocolate ganache
Instead of chocolate shavings, I've taken a more indulgent approach to this Black Forest Cake and smothered the top with a dark chocolate ganache. You could absolutely omit the chocolate ganache topping if you don't fancy it but I do think it works perfectly with this type of opulent cake.
Step by step photos
Top left: Add the cooled melted chocolate to the creamed butter and sugar.
Top right: Mix until combined.
Middle left: Adding ⅓ of the flour and mixing to combine.
Middle right: Adding ⅓ of the milk and mixing to combine.
Bottom left: Add the whipped egg whites a tablespoon at a time.
Bottom right: Fold together gently taking care not to deflate the egg whites.
Left: Add a layer of sweetened double cream.
Right: Add a layer of cherries soaked in Kirsch.
Left: Add the hot double cream to the chopped chocolate. Leave to sit for a few minutes.
Right: Stir until you have a thick, glossy, pourable chocolate ganache.
How to make the dark chocolate ganache
Don't be put off by the posh chef-y sounding name of this ridiculously simple topping!
Making ganache is so easy. Just follow these steps:
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add them to a bowl.
- Heat the double cream in a saucepan set over medium heat until it's almost at boiling point.
- Pour the double cream over the chopped chocolate.
- Wait a few minutes.
- Stir together until you have a thick, glossy, pourable chocolate ganache.
Yes, this cake contains Kirsch which is a type of cherry brandy.
Any cherry-based liquor would give a similar flavour profile as Kirsch.
You can use cherry juice as a non-alcoholic alternative to Kirsch.
If you can't find a jar of cherries in Kirsch you can use cherry pie filling as an alternative.
You can use fresh cherries instead of cherries soaked in Kirsch. If you are using bottled Kirsch in the cake, you can soak the fresh cherries beforehand.
This Black Forest Cake has fresh cream and should be stored in the refrigerator. It will taste better when brought to room temperature before slicing and serving.
You can freeze the baked chocolate sponges however as this has a whipped cream filling, the finished cake will not hold up well in the freezer.
More cake recipes to try
- 230 g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
- 170 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 350 g light brown soft sugar
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 370 g plain flour, sifted
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 500 ml milk, semi or full fat is fine
- 500 g jar of cherries in Kirsch
- 500 ml double cream
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- 100 ml double cream
- 100 g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa
- 1 small handful fresh cherries
- 1 small handful fresh blackberries
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 160ºC Fan/ Gas 4/350ºF. Line the bottom of 3 20cm (8 inch) springform baking tins with baking paper.
- Melt the dark chocolate in short 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring each time. Set aside to cool.
- Cream the butter and sugar until lighter in colour and smooth.
- Beat the egg yolks until they've doubled in volume.
- Gradually add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar, beating well.
- Add the cooled chocolate and beat well to combine.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- Add a third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well, then add a third of the milk and beat. Repeat adding a third at a time with the remaining flour and milk.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks then fold the egg whites into the cake batter. Fold very gently so you don't knock the air out of the mixture!
- Divide the mixture evenly between your tins. Bake for 28 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Leave to cool before filling.
- Whisk the double cream and icing sugar until it's softly whipped.
- Place one of the sponges on a cake board or serving plate and spread over one third of the whipped cream. Add half of the Kirsch soaked cherries on top of the whipped cream. Repeat for the second layer. Add the final cake layer on top.
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put it into a heatproof bowl.
- Add the cream to a small saucepan set over a medium heat. Take the pan off the heat just before it reaches boiling point and pour the cream over the top of the chocolate. Leave it to sit for a few minutes.
- Beat the cream and chocolate together until you have a smooth, glossy, pourable dark chocolate ganache. Leave it to cool for a few minutes.
- Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and use a palette knife to spread it over the top. Don't worry if some drips down the sides of the cake.
- To decorate, add a small handful of fresh cherries and blackberries on top of the cake.
- If you can't find cherries in Kirsch you can substitute for the same weight of fresh cherries, tinned cherries or cherry pie filling. I do not recommend you use frozen cherries.
- An alternative to Kirsch would be any cherry based liquor or brandy.
- For a non-alcoholic cake you can sue cherry juice.
- Icing sugar is the equivalent of powdered sugar or confectioner's sugar in the US
- Double cream is the equivalent of heavy cream or whipping cream in the US (look for cream with a high fat content above 40%)
- Cream whips easier when it is cold straight from the fridge.
- You can bake this recipe in 2 x 8 inch tins and then slice the baked cakes in half (although you will end up with 4 layers so you will have to adjust the amount of filling in between each layer.)
- Storage: As this cake has fresh cream it needs to be refrigerated. It will keep for 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. You can freeze the baked chocolate sponges for up to 3 months but a decorated cake will not freeze well.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 851Total Fat: 53gSaturated Fat: 32gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 180mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 85gFiber: 5gSugar: 47gProtein: 10g