Cakes/ Chocolate/ Classic Desserts/ Dessert/ Fruit Desserts/ Layer Cakes

Black Forest Cake

June 13, 2018

This is my favorite recipe for German black forest cake for so many reasons: The chocolate layers are so moist, they will melt in your mouth, the combination of chocolate, cherries and soft whipped cream is to-die-for, and although it takes a few steps to make, each step is easy and simple to follow.  

Black Forest Cake

When I was a kid I was reluctant to try black forest cakes, thinking that cherries and chocolate was an odd combination, but boy was I wrong! Along with whipped cream, this is a delightful treat. Ever since I tried it in Germany, I couldn’t stop eating it again and again. You won’t understand how good this is until you try it. Trust me.

This is an easy black forest cake recipe made with 4 layers of moist chocolate cake soaked in cherry syrup, cherries, and whipped cream. The classic cake is decorated with chocolate and fresh cherries.

Black Forest Cake

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.

Black Forest Cake

Cherries

I use canned cherries because it makes the process easier, and because they are available throughout the whole year unlike fresh cherries. Also, the juice from the can adds more cherry flavor, and the cherries are already pitted and soft, so they don’t need to be cooked. I like to use sour cherries, but sweet cherries work too.

Black Forest Cake

Kirsch

If you’re looking for the classic recipe, I highly recommend using Kirsch because it gives the best cherry flavor. Without it you’ll only get a subtle cherry flavor. Still delicious cake though. If you want to leave it out, replace it with more cherry juice.

Black Forest Cake

4.95 from 38 votes
Black Forest Cake
Black Forest Cake Recipe
Prep Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
YIELD: 8 -inch cake
 

Ingredients
Chocolate Cake:
  • cups (250 g/8.8 oz.) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • cup (65 g/2.3 oz.) natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (400 g/14 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (120 ml) neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot water
Cherries and Cherry Syrup:
  • 1 cup drained, canned cherries
  • ¼ cup Kirsch, or another cherry liqueur
  • cherry juice from canned cherries (drain cherries and reserve the juice)
Whipped Cream Frosting:
  • 3 cups heavy cream, cold
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
Optional Decorations:
  • 200 g/7 oz. chocolate shavings
  • Fresh whole cherries
Instructions
  1. To make the chocolate cake: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Generously butter two 8-inch cake pans that are at least 2-inches high, and dust with cocoa powder, tapping the ramekins slightly to remove any excess.

  2. In a large bowl, place flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Mix until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, oil, vanilla, buttermilk, and water (pour the water slowly so it won’t cook the eggs). Whisk until smooth. Add egg mixture into flour mixture and mix until smooth. Don’t overbeat – batter will be lumpy at first, but mix gently and eventually stir with a whisk just until smooth. The batter will be thin and liquid. That's ok.
  4. Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake cakes for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven - this might take longer), or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before unmolding, then let cakes cool completely on a wire rack. I recommend wrapping the cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze them for several hours before cutting them. Cut each cake layer in half horizontally.
  5. To make the syrup: place drained cherries in a medium bowl, and add to the bowl ¼ cup Kirsch and ½ cup cherry juice from can. Leave to soak at room temperature for 30 minutes or more, then drain cherries in a sieve over a bowl, keeping both the cherries and syrup. Add more cherry juice to the syrup to get 3/4 cup syrup (you won't need the rest of the juice, discard it or save for another use). This will be the soaking syrup for the cake layers.
  6. To make the whipped cream: Using a stand mixer or hand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Read more about making perfect whipped cream here.
  7. Assembly: Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate and brush with 1/3 of the cherry syrup. Cover top with a thick layer of whipped cream frosting (about 1 cup) and top with 1/3 of the cherries. Repeat twice more with remaining layers and top with the last cake layer (there’s no need to soak the top layer with syrup). Frost the top and sides of the cake with whipped cream. If you want, reserve some of the whipped cream, about 1½ cups, for decorating the top. Use a pastry bag with a large flower tip, and pipe rounds around the top. Top with whole cherries. Cover the sides and top with chocolate shavings, if desired. Store cake in the fridge, covered, for up to 4 days.
Super moist and flavorful black forest cake made with 4 layers of chocolate cake, cherries, and whipped cream.

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70 Comments

  • Reply
    Kim is High on Cake
    June 21, 2018 at 9:48 am

    I love Black Forest Cakes and this one looks amazing! I need to try this recipe. Besides the pictures are mouth-watering. Thank you very much for sharing!

  • Reply
    Ronalyn Tindugan
    July 10, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Hi shiran! What is the alternative for cherry liquor?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 11, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Hi Ronalyn, you can leave it out, and replace it with more cherry juice. You can read more about it at the above post.

  • Reply
    Barb
    October 10, 2018 at 11:38 am

    looking for German dessert recipe for Oktoberfest dinner party and stumbled across your recipe. What do you mean by neutral oil? Have you ever tried using coconut oil?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 14, 2018 at 7:49 am

      Hi Barb, you can use canola, vegetable, or safflower oil. I haven’t tried it with coconut oil.

  • Reply
    AL
    November 10, 2018 at 3:31 am

    From the first try , it became fantastic! Thanks for the recipe! and I was using a peanut oil )))

  • Reply
    Sherry
    December 2, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    I made this cake and it turned out fabulous!!!
    This is a definite keeper and will make it again!
    Thank you for sharing this 5 Star Black Forest cake!

  • Reply
    Chloe
    December 10, 2018 at 12:46 am

    Does this cake freeze well?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 10, 2018 at 7:17 am

      Hi Chloe, I usually don’t recommend freezing whipped cream frosting, but I did freeze a few pieces of this cake myself and they kept well. I recommend freezing only leftovers, and then thaw overnight in the fridge.

      • Reply
        jess
        December 21, 2019 at 10:24 pm

        substitutes for all purpose flour

  • Reply
    Ash
    December 14, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Is it compulsory to add buttermilk?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 15, 2018 at 5:45 am

      You can also use milk, but buttermilk gives the best result and makes the cake moist.

    • Reply
      Melanie Hill
      January 20, 2019 at 9:47 am

      You can make your own buttermilk. One cup of milk to one tablespoon of vinegar. It will curdle the milk and you have buttermilk. Easier to make your own.

      • Reply
        Bambino
        June 27, 2020 at 5:32 pm

        Best black forest ever…very rich and moist. Thank you for sharing the recipe. i nailed it. For the buttermilk I used one cup of milk and added a table spoon of lemon juice.

  • Reply
    Sonali
    December 18, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    Wonderful recipe! Very excited to try it! I was wondering what kind of canned cherries are best to use : cherries canned in water or cherries canned in heavy syrup? Thank you!!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 21, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      Both can work but I like to use the one in syrup for more cherry flavor.

  • Reply
    Liliana
    January 10, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    I never attempt to make Black Forest cake . It has been always my son favorite and I used to buy at a very good bakery close to me until we moved . Then I try others and was akways disappointed. So this year I will try your recipe for my son 35th birthday. For what I read in comments yours really seams worth the try. I just wondered if I can replace the Kirsh with something else. Thank you Shiran! I will be posting a comment after January the 18.

    • Reply
      Megan
      April 19, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      Love to try this recipe. But wondering if I can use only a 8” high cake pan Instead of 2 x 8”? Please advice ! Thanks !

      • Reply
        Shiran
        April 20, 2020 at 2:41 am

        Hi Megan. It might be a little small for all the batter, but as long as you don’t fill the pan more than 3/4 full, you should be ok. Baking time will be longer.

  • Reply
    Anisa
    January 12, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    I need to make this cake for tomorrow afternoon. can I bake the cake tonight and put in fridge until tomorrow? Or will it become too hard? I’m not going to decorate it until tomorrow so the whipped cream doesn’t become too hard. Also, I only have a 9 inch pan! Could this recipe work with a 9 inch?

    • Reply
      Eclipse
      January 20, 2019 at 7:58 pm

      I have done a recipe that has requested to do it with an 8 inch pan, but I did it with 9. It is not this recipe, but from my experience, if you use an 9 inch pan it will not be as moist and will be more on the dry side. If you want it to be more on the moist side, use the 8 inch pans. I hope this helps.

    • Reply
      Tammy
      January 25, 2019 at 4:12 pm

      I am wondering that as well as I need to do that too, can you advise?

      • Reply
        Shiran
        February 6, 2019 at 5:36 am

        Yes, it can be made a day ahead. You can use a 9-inch pan, the cake will be a bit shorter.

    • Reply
      Jo.
      May 22, 2019 at 5:04 pm

      I only had a 9-inch pan and I ‘padded’ it out with foil, then lined with a sheet of foil to make it smaller. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but it worked great. I wanted to make sure the cakes were thick enough to slice otherwise I would probably have gone ahead with the 9-inch pans that I had.

  • Reply
    Cam San
    January 19, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    SOOOOOO F***ING GOOD, (doing an ice cream cake version of it now 😉

  • Reply
    Laurie
    January 21, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Wonderful recipe! Thank you. It was easy and quick to assemble. A bit hit with everyone at our dinner party.

    • Reply
      Simone
      April 24, 2020 at 11:39 pm

      Best ever Black Forest cake!!! So easy, thank you. Made it twice now & everyone loved it. My colleague at work wants it for her 30th Birthday.

  • Reply
    Bill M
    January 21, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    We made this cake last weekend- it was terrific! A couple of comments:
    1. We didn’t have 8 inch cake pans- and could not find 2 inch high ones anywhere. If you don’t have those, you can use standard 9 inch diameter, 1.5 inch high pans— they are very close in volume . ( I did the math- they are both around 100 cubic inches!). The cake came out fine.
    2. Next time, we are going to double the number of cherries (2 cans) — as is you don’t get many cherries between the layers in each slice.
    And there will be a “Next time”!!!

  • Reply
    Emily Zastrow
    January 26, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    This cake is amazing. It wasn’t too sweet, which was perfect. I couldn’t find the Kirsch due to lack of time (I planned to make this in 2 days before actually making it for a party.. talk about stress) and that I’m only 19 and can’t purchase alcohol, even without the Kirsch it was great! Definitively will be making this cake again for my uncles birthday since he requested it today.

  • Reply
    Emma
    February 1, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    How many servings does this make?

  • Reply
    Sally
    February 6, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    I made this amazing easy cake yesterday. We devoured it with love. Mmmm.
    I used morello cherries from a jar and used its syrup as i prefer to kirsch. I didnt have sour cream so soured the milk as said . I cant fault this cake. A good tip was to get cake cold before decorating. I didnt cream all over either as enough in the middle. Sprinkled top with soft icing. Looked and tasted amazing. Highly reccomend you try this. Friends said they were at a high tea. Very pleasing.
    Girgot to rate it too.

  • Reply
    Sandra woods
    February 18, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Is this plain or self raising flour

    • Reply
      Shiran
      February 20, 2019 at 7:25 am

      Plain flour.

  • Reply
    Lindz
    February 25, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    I tried this recipe and the outcome was so wow I don’t even know how to explain it.thank you very much for the recipe. How I wish I shared aome with you. It was indeed nice

  • Reply
    Leema
    February 27, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Where I live, Kirsch is not available or too popular. In this case how do I do the syrup?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      March 5, 2019 at 3:45 am

      You can replace it with more cherry juice from the canned cherries.

      • Reply
        Eve
        July 21, 2019 at 6:56 am

        Can I bake in a high cake tin rather than 2 as my oven is not wide enough for 2 tins. Or should I bake 2 one after another ? Can the batter wait 35 minutes.

  • Reply
    Prescott
    March 11, 2019 at 5:30 am

    What decorations do you suggest

  • Reply
    Connie Gulliford
    March 27, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Has anyone tried this cake with 1 to 1 gluten free flower?

  • Reply
    Rena
    April 1, 2019 at 6:44 am

    Hi, please advice if I can be sure that 1 cup is 240ml? For canned cherries, juice and whipped cream. Since there are grams for everything except these ingredients. tnx.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 1, 2019 at 6:53 am

      Yes, 1 cup = 240 ml

  • Reply
    Rio
    April 18, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Hi Shiran 🙂 this recipe looks fab and I am wanting to make a rectangular version of it. Would it be wise for me to double the recipe if I wanted to split it between two 14×11 inch pans? (approx length can’t remember exactly haha)

    Thankyou in advance 🙂

  • Reply
    Payel
    April 21, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    If I don’t use butter milk…then what will be the recipe… Plz suggest….and how to make buttermilk…

  • Reply
    Maharookh Daver
    June 7, 2019 at 3:25 am

    Thank you so much . I made it for my daughters birthday and it was just amazing – even though I left the sides of the care bare

  • Reply
    Zeenath Azeeza
    September 24, 2019 at 7:51 am

    I can’t find buttermilk.. if I use whole milk, is that ok? If I use whole milk, is that compulsory to use hot water??

    • Reply
      Shiran
      September 27, 2019 at 2:21 am

      You can use a buttermilk substitute. To make 1 cup of homemade buttermilk: take a measuring cup and pour in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Add milk until it reaches one cup. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes (it will look curdled and that’s fine), then use in the recipe.

  • Reply
    Chadwick J Clark
    October 14, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Made it last night (more like all of yesterday!), and everyone loved it for dessert last night. I added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the cream, but not sure that was noticeable. Two issues I had: I could not cut my cakes in two. Perhaps I didn’t bake them quite long enough because they would have crumbled had I cut them in two. The toothpicks came out PRETTY much clean. So I made it in just two layers. The other thing I couldn’t figure out is HOW do you get the chocolate shavings onto the SIDE of the cake???

    Excellent cake, and I want to try to actually make it with the FOUR layers next time.

  • Reply
    Aine
    October 27, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    I baked this for a family gathering, it was large enough for everyone to have a piece, thats 15 people! Looked and tasted amazing. Having another get together tomorrow for the bank holiday and this has been requested. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  • Reply
    Cherry
    November 10, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    I must say this is a stunning cake!!! Very moist and fluffy! This is my first try at it and am thrilled with the outcome!!! Thank you very much! The kirsch gave it a wonderful lift!!!

  • Reply
    Yame
    November 21, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Can I make this cake without eggs??

  • Reply
    Aine
    December 26, 2019 at 5:44 am

    Im making this for the fifth time for St Stephens day today. Its always a hit and I get to bring my clean serving dish home right away. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Michele
    January 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Every year, I ask for a black forest cake for my birthday. My son asked for one this time, and I found this recipe. Oh, my goodness! The BEST I’ve ever had! Awesome recipe

  • Reply
    Rheena
    January 12, 2020 at 6:38 am

    Delicious! We went cherry picking last week and I had already planned on making this gorgeous cake. Instead of using canned cherries, I simmered 2 cups of fresh cherries, pitted, with 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup castor sugar for about 25 minutes. Then used it the following day as replacement for the kirsch and the canned cherries. Turned out gorgeous.!!
    Thanks Shiran!.. Again… Lol

  • Reply
    Maria Luiza Franceschi Nicodemo
    February 12, 2020 at 3:08 am

    Thank you, Shiran, for the recipe! Everybody loved it! This time, it was for my husband’s birthday.
    My daughter said it was the most amazing cake she had in ages! and she is very picky…
    It was simple to assemble with your tips. I let the cake rest overnight in the fridge, as you suggested.
    I will make it again!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      February 16, 2020 at 6:14 am

      I’m so glad! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Angelina
    May 5, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    Hello! I was wondering for the whipped cream, would only 1 1/4 cup of heavy cream be enough to cover the entire cake? I only have that much on hand and I want to make this for Mother’s Day! Is there any way to add more liquid (like milk) to the heavy cream to make more of it? Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      May 11, 2020 at 4:36 am

      Hi Angelina, it won’t be enough, and if you use milk you won’t get a stable whipped cream.

  • Reply
    Marky Mark the Baking Tart
    May 18, 2020 at 1:15 am

    Excited to try this recipe tomorrow, but I’m a bit stressed about the use of hot water into the egg mixture. Why hot water? Won’t cold do?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 3, 2020 at 5:11 am

      The hot water yields a super chocolatey and moist cake, and helps in mixing the ingredients thoroughly so the batter has no lumps.

  • Reply
    Victoria
    May 19, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Are canned cherries the same as jarred cherries? I’m not sure if in Canada we have cherries with syrup since I’ve only ever seen cherry pie filling

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 3, 2020 at 6:33 am

      Yes, canned and jarred cherries are ok to use! Just don’t use cherry pie filling 🙂

  • Reply
    Simml
    July 9, 2020 at 10:16 am

    Trust me. It’s an amazing recipe. Came out really well following your instructions. Thank you so much Shiran for this wonderful recipe. Many asked for the recipe and have forwarded to all of them. Will make it again.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 12, 2020 at 5:16 am

      Thank you so much Simmel 🙂

      • Reply
        Resha Maharjan
        July 16, 2020 at 4:24 pm

        Hi for how many people will this cake serve?

  • Reply
    Sharmilasivaparakasm
    July 24, 2020 at 4:07 am

    Hi mama.. shall use instead of butter milk shall use butter =250gm… and its compulsory hot water

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 27, 2020 at 4:37 am

      You can use sour cream or milk instead of buttermilk.

  • Reply
    Austin
    August 11, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    How long do you recommend waiting before cutting+frosting the cake? I’ve read elsewhere that after the cake based has cooled it is a good idea to chill it before cutting to reduce crumbling.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 12, 2020 at 5:19 am

      Hi Austin. The recipes mentions to place the cake layers in the fridge or for a little while in the freezer before cutting. It would definitely help.

  • Reply
    Zuhair Mahmood
    September 8, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Hi Shiran. I was wondering do if I really need to refrigrate it for 4 days or is that optional?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      September 9, 2020 at 3:22 am

      You can store it for up to 4 days, but you can serve it the same day you prepare it 🙂

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