So…how to build this beast?

Look around the world and you’ll find innumerable versions of the Black Forest cake. However in Germany there’s a legal definition (a PDO or something along those lines) for the confection, which goes by the name schwarzwälder kirschtorte in their language. No surprise there, everything from pork pies to pizzas to strawberries carry those sorts of designations these days. And very handy things they are too as they provide rough blueprints for my pirated American recipes.

According to European Union authorities Black Forest cake (“with kirsch”…of course) consists of 2-3 layers of chocolate sponge cake. It “contains whipped cream, buttercream or a combination of both”. I find that very provocative. It is also “coated in buttercream or whipped cream” and is “decorated with chocolate shavings”.

Very interesting. So it appears that technically I have a choice here. Personally I’m most accustomed to Black Forest cakes that are both filled and frosted with whipped cream. I’ll definitely want to frost with whipped cream since I can’t conceive of a Black Forest cake that isn’t bright white on the outside. However as far as the filling goes maybe I’ll go with pastry cream…or some lightened version thereof. Hm. Should I do a Pierre Hermé and use two different fillings (diplomat cream and whipped ganache)? That might be fun. What do you think, my eminent readers? How to fill this sucker?

21 thoughts on “So…how to build this beast?”

    1. That does sound good, I confess I’m leaning toward it, even though it’s not technically a whipped cream or a buttercream. A thick layer of buttercream feels like too much to me.


      – Jim

      1. I find regular buttercream too heavy, especially with sponge cakes. So I definitely am voting for diplomat cream and whipped ganache for the fillings! Even though they are not included in the official definition.

        1. Yes I agree. Buttercream needs to be used judiciously or it gets overwhelming very quickly. Diplomat cream seems like a winner to me.

          Cheers and thanks!

          – joe

  1. Hi Joe,

    Came across this since my family absolutely will devour any type of chocolate + cherry + whipped cream combination (certified or not, or even in a non-cake form as in Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia) waiting patiently for your version. For filling.. yes, Pierre Herme’s version sounds divine — another vote for that!

    My question for you: is there an actual cherry compote/cherry in a Black Forrest cake?


    1. Hey Claire!

      Thanks and good question. Most of the better recipes I’ve seen do call for some sort of cherry compote as a filling, usually made from frozen sour cherries, but some from fresh bing cherries. There are so many recipes for Black Forest cake out there, it gets confusing very quickly, but a compote is the way I expect I’ll go. Cheers,

      – Joe

        1. Darn good question, Melody. I shall answer it on the blog this morning!


          – Joe

  2. We used to make this regularly & it was always buttercream. I made a variation with pastry cream but didn’t like it as much. I like the idea of whipped cream though it would be lighter thats for sure.

  3. Whipped cream on the inside and out. There’s so much going on in the cake, it’s nice to have the lightness of whipped cream.

    1. That’s an excellent point, Alex. I shall ponder that one as it makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

      – Joe

  4. I’ve never seen (or tasted or made) a Schwarzwaelder Kirsch with ganache or buttercream. If you want to stick close to the “original” (i.e. what I see and eat here in Germany), avoid the flavor competition buttercream or strong use of vanilla brings and keep the cake as light and fluffy as possible. The almondy bitterness of the kirsch and cherries already play nicely against the smooth sweetness of the cream. I also recommend not to overdo the chocolate shavings. In a deconstructed Schwarzwaelder trifle, I enjoy chunky dark chocolate. The fine shavings on the cake, however, should readily melt away.

    Looking forward to your version and ideas, Joe. (I am rather often unhappy with the sponge … too dense and dry).


  5. I’m another voter for the the diplomat cream and whipped ganache 🙂 Can’t wait to see this one!

  6. A few months ago, I made Black Forest Cupcakes. Although this type of cake isn’t ever really made in cupcake form in Germany, I wanted to put my spin on it. Plus, living in Germany made it pretty easy to make it with local ingredients! I put the link to my recipe where my website URL goes if you want to check out how I made it. It was my first attempt at a BF cake and my German friends all said it tasted perfect. I only used whipped cream, btw!

  7. here’s the herme version i’ve made several times with great success.

    but i’ve come to prefer the michalak (hotel plaza athenee) version. there he intensifies the cherry element by heating cherries in syrup with cherry jam, soaking the cake layers in the resulting combined syrup and layering with the fruit. his chocolate mascarpone cream is just for coating the outside. more fruity, less creamy.

    the next step is probably to try to intensify the cherry element in the herme version while retaining the two kinds of cream.

  8. Schwarzwälder kirschtorte . . . hey isn’t that what Gene Wilder, Terri Garr, and Marty Feldman were eating when the monster awoke in Young Frankenstein?

    1. Thanks, Thames! I think I’m leaning in that direction…though maybe a little chocolate in one of the filling layers. Maybe. 😉

      – Joe

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