Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)

  • Serves

    serves 12

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)

This classic, German, cherry-filled chocolate cake, a masterpiece of cherry brandy-soaked pastry engineering, improves the longer it sits. Get the recipe for Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)

This classic, German, cherry-filled chocolate cake, a masterpiece of cherry brandy-soaked pastry engineering, improves the longer it sits. This recipe first appeared in the 2012 SAVEUR 100 with the story Black Forest Cake.


For the Chocolate Cake and Cherry Syrup

  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 12 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 34 cup cornstarch
  • 14 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 14 oz. (2 cups) jarred or canned sour cherries, drained, reserving 1/2 cup cherry juice from jar, plus 12 cherries, to garnish
  • 12 cup kirsch (cherry brandy)

For the Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 2 tbsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups plus 6 tbsp. milk
  • 12 cup cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 6 tbsp. kirsch (cherry brandy)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated


Step 1

Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 3″-deep 9″ cake pan; set aside. Combine 1 cup sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk; beat on medium-high speed until tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl; sift onto egg mixture. Add butter; working quickly, gently fold until just combined. Pour into prepared pan; smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes; let cool. Using a serrated knife, trim top of cake to create a level top; cut cake horizontally into 3 even layers (see How to Cut Cake Layers) and set cakes aside.

Step 2

Make the kirsch syrup: Stir together 14 oz. cherries and kirsch in a bowl; let sit for 30 minutes. Bring remaining sugar and reserved cherry juice to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves; remove from heat and set aside. Drain kirsch from cherries, and add it to cherry syrup in saucepan. Set soaked cherries and syrup aside.

Step 3

Make the frosting: Sprinkle gelatin over 6 tbsp. milk in a bowl; let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch and sugar in a 2-qt. saucepan; add remaining milk, and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to the consistency of very thick pudding; transfer to a food processor along with gelatin mixture; process until smooth. Transfer gelatin mixture to a large bowl. Place cream, 4 tbsp. kirsch, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk; beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Add 1⁄3 of the whipped cream to the gelatin mixture; stir until smooth. Add remaining whipped cream, and gently fold with a rubber spatula until evenly combined.

Step 4

To assemble the cake: Place 1 layer of cake on a cake stand; brush heavily with cherry syrup. Cover with soaked cherries; spread 1 cup frosting over cherries. Place another cake layer on top; brush heavily with syrup. Spread 2 cups frosting over cake; top with remaining cake layer and brush heavily with syrup. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over top of cake; using a long knife, score top into 12 wedges. Transfer remaining frosting to a piping bag fitted with a 3⁄8″ star tip; starting at outside edge of top of cake, pipe zig-zag rows of frosting on wedges, staying between scored lines. Pipe 3 rows of frosting around side of cake; smooth rows until frosting evenly covers side. Drag a 6" x 4" decorating comb (available at Kerekes) over side of cake to produce a ridged pattern. Pipe 12 small mounds of frosting on top of each wedge; place a cherry on top of each mound. Pour chocolate shavings over center of cake. Chill until frosting is firm, about 2 hours. To serve, pour remaining 2 tbsp. kirsch over chocolate.
Klumpp begins by piling sour cherries onto a layer of chocolate cake brushed with kirsch (cherry brandy) syrup and smeared with whipped cream frosting, and then drizzles more kirsch syrup on top. Placing the heavy cherries on the bottom layer ensures that they won't crush the middle layers.
He spreads a thick layer of whipped cream frosting over and around the cherries to secure them between the cake's layers. The whipped cream frosting is reinforced with gelatin so that it will stay firm and act as a sort of creamy mortar, for an architecturally sound structure.
Klumpp stacks on another cake layer and spreads it with more syrup and more whipped cream frosting. Then he adds the final cake layer and brushes it with more syrup. He spreads a thin layer of whipped cream frosting over the top of the cake and scores it into 12 wedges with a long knife.
The rest of the whipped cream frosting goes into a piping bag fitted with a star tip, and Klumpp pipes whipped cream frosting on top of each wedge in a zigzag pattern, beginning at the edge of the cake and working his way toward the center, to form a starburst.
He spreads whipped cream frosting on the outside of the cake and drags a decorating comb over it. He pipes 2″ rosettes around the perimeter of the top of the cake--one per wedge--and nestles a cherry in each one. Then he sprinkles chocolate shavings over the center of the cake.
Klumpp finishes the cake by moistening the chocolate shavings with a few tablespoons of kirsch. The boozy cherries, chocolate cake, and whipped cream balance each other wonderfully; he slices the cake between the rosettes to make 12 uniform pieces.
Black Forest Cake

This timeless German cake, a masterpiece of cherry brandy-soaked pastry engineering, improves the longer it sits.

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