Authentic Black Forest Cake

Authentic Black Forest Cake is called Schwarzwalderkirsch Torte in German. Which in German simply means Black Forest Cherry Torte. Authentic Black Forest Cake uses Kirsch or Kirschwasser. Kirsch is made from the Black Morello Cherry and is made in the Black Forest Region of Germany. I have wanted to make an Authentic Black Forest Cake since December when I saw a beautiful and very tempting Black Forest Cake at a local bakery.

What is Kirsch?

Kirsch also called Kirschwasser, is a dry, colorless Brandy distilled from the fermented juice of the Black Morello CherryKirsch is made in the Black Forest Region of Germany. Its production methods remain traditional. Fully ripened cherries are mashed in a large wooden tub or vat and allowed to ferment. When the fermentation process has completed, the entire mass, liquid pulp and cherry stones are distilled in a pot still.

During the mashing, some of the cherry stones or pits are crushed, releasing some of their oils and acids. This includes small amounts of hydrocyanic acid, which gives the distinctive bitter almond undertone to the beverage. Kirsch is not aged. It is sold at 90 to 100 proof. Its a clear, colorless liquid, the same liquid that comes off the still. It is a fruit brandy with a clean, cherry fragrance and bitter almond taste.

Kirsch is consumed “neat” as a brandy and is used in many cocktails. Kirsch is also used in cooking as a flavoring.

Black Forest Cake, The Name

There are many ideas on how Black Forest Cake got its name. Some historians say that it got its name because Kirsch the liqueur used to flavor the cake, is made in the Black Forest.

Other historians say that Black Forest Cake got its name from the traditional costume worn by women in the Black Forest. Their dresses were black,
just like the dark chocolate shavings, their blouses white and billowing, like the whipped cream and their hats were topped with red pompoms that looked just like the cherries.

Black Forest Cake, The Definition

Black Forest Torte also known as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. This exquisite dessert hails from Swabia in Germany’s Black Forest region. It’s made by layering kirsch-scented chocolate cake, sour cherries and kirsch-laced whipped cream. Then it’s coated generously with sweetened whipped cream and garnished with chocolate curls and cherries.

Worth It!

I have always been a little intimidated by the many  steps involved in the traditional recipe for Black Forest Cake. Not only are there several steps involved when making this cake it takes some time…mainly because the cherries need to soak in the Kirsch overnight and the cake needs to sit in the fridge for a day or two…to allow the kirsch to soak into the cake but if  you have the time…this cake is sooo worth it!!

Black Forest Cake Steps:

The cherries need to soak in kirsch overnight. There are 2-4 layers of chocolate sponge cake, each cake layer is brushed with kirsch. The cake needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight or longer. Each cake layer has a layer of soaked cherries and layers of fresh kirsch flavored whipped cream. The cake is frosted with more kirsch flavored whipped cream. The whole cake is then covered in dark chocolate shavings and a few whole cherries, with the stem left on, gives the cake a dramatic effect.



*There are several “rules” to follow when making an “Authentic” Black Forest Cake…

1. Black Forest Cake is made with Kirsch and only Kirsch
2. Use fresh, Black Cherries not Cherry Pie Filling
3. Only use fresh, real whipping cream not non-dairy whipped topping
4. Dark Chocolate shavings only.

Now on to the Recipe

I had wanted to make an Authentic version of Black Forest Cake and decided on this recipe from Bekah Goertzen. I found her recipe for Black Forest Cake on Looking further into her recipe, many cooks have made her recipe for Black Forest Cake. I have made an Easy Black Forest Cake which is excellent and guaranteed to disappear fast..but by German standards, it’s a far cry from the “real” thing.

Bekah Goertzen has written this about her recipe

“As a German woman, it breaks my heart to see all of these ‘black forest cakes’ in North America made with sickeningly sweet icing and gross cherry pie filling.This cake isn’t meant to be very sweet but is rather a dessert for adults with deep rich flavours and enough alcohol to make your head spin! If you cannot get fresh cherries you can use canned Bing cherries but please do not use cherry pie filling because it will take away from the authentic taste of the cake. If can’t find Kirsch do not use another type of alcohol because it will not turn out the same – instead use cherry juice. Because of the high alcohol content only serve this to adults.”

Take a look at Bekah’s recipe here: Authentic Black Forest Cake

authentic black forest cake

Authentic Black Forest Cake

A Classic German Cake
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  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup kirsch
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup espresso
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh black cherries
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup kirsch
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shaved dark chocolate curls


  • Pit most of the cherries, leaving about 10 whole, with stem on, for decoration on top of cake.
  • Cut the cherries in half, set aside.
  • Take the pitted cherries and soak them in a jar with 1/2 cup of the kirsch, overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Line the bottom of three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  • Sift the dry cake ingredients together; flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Cream the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and mix well.
  • Pour batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Remove cakes from the oven. Let stand in pans for 5 minutes. Remove cakes from the pans and cool cakes on wire racks. When cool, prick the tops of the cakes with a toothpick. Pour 1/2 cup kirsch. (that the cherries soaked in) onto the cake. Let stand while you make filling.
  • Make Filling: In a bowl beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the icing sugar, salt and espresso, mix well. If the filling is to thick, add a few drops of kirsch.
  • Place one cake layer on top of your cake stand. Spread 1/2 of the filling over the top. Cover filling with cherries and top with another layer of cake. Spread the second half of the filling over that layer of cake. Cover with cherries. Top with the third layer of cake.
  • Cover and let sit in the fridge for a day or two to allow the kirsch to soak into the cake.
  • To Serve: Prepare the Whipped Cream:
  • Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the dry milk and icing sugar. Add the vanilla and pour in the kirsch until its of good spreading consistency. Spread the whipped cream over the cake. Make small mounds of whipped cream on top of cake for decoration. Place the cherries with stems on small mounds.
  • Cover cake with dark chocolate shavings
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