Making Black Forest Cake

One taste of Black Forest cake made with the traditional sponge cake and it all makes sense. This cake is as light as air. Then the kick of the cherry brandy and chocolate hits you and you think wow, those German Black Forest hillbillies were really on to something! Try this and I promise you’ll never think of Black Forest cake as a deep chocolate indigence again but rather as a chocolate and cherry cream cake. One with a nice alcoholic payoff which, let’s face it, doesn’t hurt. You’ll need:

1 recipe chocolate génoise
1/2 recipe cake syrup combined 8 ounces kirsch
about 1 cup sour cherries (frozen is fine, bing cherries will do in a pinch)
stabilized whipped cream (about 2 1/2 cups liquid heavy cream sweetened with 5 tablespoons sugar)
2 ounces chocolate shavings
maraschino cherries for garnish

Start by trimming up your génoise layer. This one I froze because bad weather kept me from making this cake for about a week. When you freeze a génoise layer it sinks a little more that normal so my edge trimmings were substantial. It still left me with a nice thick layer though.

See? Still close to two inches. I trimmed the sides as well to straighten the edges. You don’t need to do that unless you’re uptight like I am.

The next step is to split the sponge layer. Start by making a shallow cut all the way around the layer in the center. Keep cutting around and around, steadily getting deeper until…

…you’ve cut all the way through.

Place your bottom layer on a cardboard cake circle, then paint it liberally with the kirsch syrup. Don’t soak it, just moisten it all over.

Now apply the whipped cream. A very large dollop, and spread it to the edges. You want a nice thick layer that’s about as thick as your sponge layers.

Press your cherries into it.

Apply the next layer of cake and similarly apply the cake syrup. You won’t use all your syrup. Use it to make some sort of celebratory cocktail once you’re done making the cake.

At this point I enlisted my cake wheel, since I had a few flourishes in mind.

See here how you want the cream about an equal thickness with the sponge. Just about perfect.

I spread the whipped cream out to the edges…

…then spread it out, over and along the sides…

…and applied a cake comb to give the sides a texture. And did a wavy thing on the top because, well…what da hey.

I was gonna cover most of it with chocolate shavings anyway.

Then using a pastry bag with a nice big star tip…

…I piped some dollops of cream and topped them with maraschino cherries for color.

I piped a bottom rim but I think that was too much. Made the cake look like a wedding gown.

Still the slices looked good.

Good enough to eat, no? Reviews were phenomenal.

24 thoughts on “Making Black Forest Cake”

  1. That looks amazeballs. Blackforest cake is one of my faves.
    Thanks for the recipe Joe 🙂

  2. I think the ‘wedding gown’ look is appropriate. A cake that good should look fancy. I am surprised you use one of those silicone brushes, I hate those things, don’t think they deliver the goods as well & are sort of clunky. Maybe its my technique.

    I still owe you a chocolate caramelizing experiment, I have not forgotten but with hockey season starting & work being particularly oppressive in recent weeks I have not had the free time. Pictures will arrive though, I promise!

    1. Thanks, Frankly!

      On the brush, yeah I’m not a big fan of those silicone brushes other than the fact that they’re very food-safe and easy to clean. They’re not precise, but for slopping on syrup they work well enough!

      And yeah, what about that???

      – Joe

  3. Oh, that looks nice. I especially like the forest of chocolate shavings. I have two layers of devil’s food cake in my freezer, and I’m wondering if I could use those instead of making a genoise. (Lazy, yes. Plus making genoise gives me the heebie-jeebies.) Think it would be too heavy?

    1. I say: go!

      Most Black Forest cakes in the States (and I think now in Germany) are made with heavier butter cake-style layers. I won’t call you names! In fact I want to come over for some.


      – Joe

  4. The cherries are simple & genial at the same time! Most Black Forrest cake alternate between cherry compote layer & whipped cream layer, this solves both. Thanks for sharing your version, Joe, it looks divine!

    1. Hey again Claire!

      Thanks very much! I was pleased with the result. The combined layer seemed to fit the lightness of the génoise and the whipped cream a bit better. Plus it was also a little simpler considering this is an already component-intensive cake. Of course if someone wanted to split the génoise layer into three, or add another layer from a second baking of génoise, that’s a perfectly fine way to go as well. Cherry compote as a second filling would be great. As I pointed out earlier, Hermé adds a layer of chocolate Chantilly cream for an extra chocolate kick. That’s interesting. I tell you, there are so many ways to make Black Forest cake it boggles the mind. Hopefully this is a good starter version for home bakers who are interested.

      Cheers and great comment!

      – Joe

  5. Looks beautiful. Bless those wonderful German Black Forest hillbillies. This has been on my list for some time, but it seems that finding kirsch locally is a difficulty for me.

    1. Hey Gris!

      Just about any fruit brandy will do in a pinch…I suppose even just plain ol’ brandy really. It’s certainly worth trying if you can!


      – Joe

  6. Hi Joe,
    I don’t know why I haven’t been reading your blog in so long 🙁 But it never disappoints when I do!
    There’s a lazy black forest cake my mom and I always make each Christmas when most of our baking time is occupied with baking cookies: We prepare a package of dark cherry jell-o and pour it onto the porous side of two layers of devil’s food chocolate cake mix made cake! It’s put in the fridge until set, and layered with cherries and whipped cream.
    The jell-o magically conceals the fact that cake mix was used, keeps the cake moist and prevents it from being too crumbly.
    Ever since, I’ve never made black forest with sponge cake again, and the black forest made from cake mix (which was never known to any eater) was always well received.

    1. Vicki! Where you been, girl?

      That sounds pretty good actually. I may make that in a pinch one of these days!


      – Joe

  7. This looks soooo delicious! My problem is that I don’t consume alcohol. Any idea how much ends up in the finished product? Or is there any kind of substitute I could make? Cherry syrup maybe?

    1. Hi Rebekah! You don’t have to make it with alcohol. Regular cake syrup made with water will work just fine. You can add whatever flavor to it you like!


      – Joe

  8. As usual 11 out 10!!!! thank you soo much for such wonderful recipe! I used to make the sponge with 4 eggs only and my old recipe required that we kept the wet mixture constantly over the heat which was much harder and produced a much lower cake! this version is soo much better!

    1. Great news, Lila! I’m very glad this worked so well for you.

      Thanks for checking in! Cheers,

      – Joe

  9. Hi Joe, I’m new here. I’ve made my own version of black forest cake a couple of times, but I just used the latest chocolate cake layer recipe I was trying out. I’d like to try it with your genoise recipe. What size pan was it that you used to yield this nice 2″ thick round?

    I like more cherry, so I tend to lay the cherries out on the cake layer and then press the whipped cream down on and between them.

    1. Nice method, Jen!

      I used a 9″ springform pan for that. Send me a picture!

      – Joe

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