Black Forest Cherry Cake

I love reading through old cookbooks. Whenever I’m in a second-hand bookstore I make a beeline for the cookbook section and can spend many happy hours leafing through the foods of yesteryear. It is always amazing to see which recipes have stood the test of time and which seem hopelessly out of date or frankly bizarre to the modern palate. Even better than the earnestly written Victorian and Edwardian kitchen bibles with their helpful chapters on ‘How to Feed Invalids’ and the like, are the first luridly coloured cookbooks from the ’50s onwards.

While the horrors are real (Tuna and Jell-o Pie, Liver Sausage Pineapple, or Spam ’n’ Limas – I am looking at you), it’s always comforting to see old familiar recipes that are as popular today as they were then. One such classic has to be Black Forest Cherry Cake, supposedly invented in 1915, it has gone in and out of fashion ever since, but with a luscious combination of cherries, chocolate, cream and liquor it is no wonder it has a permanent spot in the culinary canon.

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, named after Germany’s Black Forest region and famous schnapps is always a show stopper of a dessert. It’s a simple enough combination, but creating a towering masterpiece requires a little bit of kitchen technique. The recipe below might look long, but that’s only because I’ve described each step of the process in detail. It’s a good idea to have your kitchen bench clear and your ingredients prepared before you start to make your life as easy as possible.

German recipes almost exclusively use jarred sour cherries to make Black Forest Cherry Cake, though if you find yourself with fresh sour cherries you can use those too. I can’t stand the 70s style Maraschino cherries commonly found on the top of the cake, so I like to bake this cake in summer when fresh cherries are at their best.

Have you ever tried baking a Black Forest Cherry Cake? Let me know in the comments below. Take care out there and happy cooking. xJ

Cherries for Black Forest Cherry Cake

Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!

Black Forest Cherry Cake

Black Forest Cherry Cake

Yield: Serves 8
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A retro classic, Black Forest Cherry Cake or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte is as delicious today as ever. A tower of chocolate, cream, cherries… what could be better?


for the chocolate sponge:

  • 3 medium eggs, room temperature
  • 125 g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75 ml neutral oil
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 50 g cocoa
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar, extra
  • butter to grease the pan

for the filling:

  • 680g jar sour cherries, (reserve the cherry juice)
  • 2 Tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
  • 25g sugar
  • 2 sheets gold strength gelatine
  • 500ml cream
  • 3 Tbsp Kirsch or rum
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • fresh dark cherries, to decorate


    1. Heat oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Line the base of a 20cm round springform cake tin with baking paper and grease the base and sides well with butter.
    2. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment fitted beat eggs, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy, around 5 minutes, then drizzle in the oil, beating continuously until incorporated.
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gently, but thoroughly fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg mixture, ensuring it is well combined but keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.
    4. Pour into the prepared cake tin, then bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until risen and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the tin. Take care not to walk around in front of the oven too much while the cake is cooking, sponges are very fragile and can collapse.
    5. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Line a rack with baking paper and invert the cake on top, remove the tin and allow to cool completely before peeling off the top paper.
    6. Drain the cherries and reserve 150ml of the juice. Mix 2 tablespoons of the juice with the cornflour/cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. Heat the cherries with the sugar in a small saucepan, stir through the cornflour/cornstarch mixture and cook gently until thickened. Set aside to cool.
    7. Place the gelatine sheets in a shallow dish, pour over enough cold water to cover and allow to soften for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes squeeze out as much liquid as you can, then place the gelatine in a small saucepan with 3 Tbsp of the cream and heat very gently, stirring until the gelatine has dissolved. Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to whip the cream until stiff.
    8. When the gelatine has dissolved, remove from the heat ad allow to cool slightly. Add two big spoonfuls of the whipped cream to the gelatine and stir to combine, then add the mixture back to the whipped cream, folding through, gently but thoroughly. Transfer ¼ of the cream to a piping bag with a star nozzle fitted and chill.
    9. Use a long, serrated knife to carefully cut the cake horizontally into three layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate or stand, sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of the kirsch or rum, then top with half of the cherries and a layer of cream. Repeat with the next layer, then place the third layer on top. Sprinkle with the remaining kirsch or rum.
    10. Spoon a layer of cream on the top of the cake and spread a thin layer of cream over the sides. Pipe tufts of cream evenly around the top of the cake and decorate with the fresh cherries.
    11. Use a knife or peeler to shave the chocolate and make chocolate curls, then press them over the sides and in the middle of the cake. Chill until ready to eat.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 638Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 168mgCarbohydrates: 59gFiber: 4gSugar: 40gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.


This cake has gelatine in the cream. Can I leave it out?

Absolutely! Gelatine is simply used as a stabiliser for the cream. I would replace it with 1 Tbsp of cornflour/cornstarch and 1 Tbsp of icing/confectioners sugar. You can whisk them through the cream after it has reached soft peaks.

How do I store Black Forest Cherry Cake?

Because of the cream, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days, loosely covered.

I don’t drink alcohol, can I leave it out of this recipe?

Sure! Simply omit it. You might like to drizzle a little cherry juice over the cake for extra flavour, though it’s not necessary.

Use a whole jar of sour cherries in the recipe for the best flavour. If you have fresh sour cherries they are delicious too!

Black Forest Cherry Cake

Make sure to keep the cake in the fridge so the cream stays fresh and delicious.

Black Forest Cherry Cake


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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food, architectural and landscape photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.
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