How to Make an Authentic German Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte?

March 22, 2024

This article will guide you through the intricate process of making the delightful Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, otherwise known as the Black Forest Cake. This traditional German dessert is a glorious combination of layers of moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, and cherries, all topped off with a dusting of cocoa powder or chocolate shavings. One bite of this cake, and you’ll feel as though you’re walking through the picturesque Black Forest itself.

1. Gather Your Ingredients

Consider this step a journey through the German landscape, gathering the specialty ingredients that will make your cake authentically charming.

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For the cake, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of boiling water

For the cherry filling, secure:

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  • 1 can (15 ounces) of pitted cherries, reserving the juice
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of sugar

For the whipped cream, gather:

  • 3 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar

Lastly, for decoration, make sure to have on hand chocolate shavings and more cherries.

2. Make the Chocolate Cake

Creating an authentic Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte starts with crafting the perfect chocolate cake, and it’s more than just mixing ingredients.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). While your oven is warming up, grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, then beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water last. The batter will be thin, but that’s just what you want. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once the cakes are done, cool them in the pans for about 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and place them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

3. Prepare the Cherry Filling

The cherry filling is the heart of the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte and takes the cake from simply chocolate to a symphony of flavors.

Drain your cherries, reserving the juice for later use. In a medium saucepan, combine the cherry juice, cherries, cornstarch, and sugar. Cook over low heat until the mixture is thickened and comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture has thickened, set it aside to cool.

4. Whip Up the Cream

The whipped cream is what gives the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte its layer of lightness, providing a delightful contrast to the dense chocolate cake and sweet cherry filling.

In a chilled bowl, beat the whipping cream until it begins to thicken. Add the confectioners’ sugar gradually while beating until the cream forms stiff peaks. Be careful not to overbeat, or else the cream will become grainy and start to turn into butter.

5. Assemble Your Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

Now that you have your components prepared, it’s time to assemble your masterpiece.

Cut each cake layer horizontally in half, yielding four layers in total. Place one layer on a cake platter and spread a third of the cherry filling over it. Top the cherry layer with a layer of whipped cream. Repeat this process with the remaining layers. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream. For the final touch, decorate the cake with chocolate shavings and cherries.

Take pride in your creation. You’ve just made an authentic Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, a German masterpiece that is sure to impress any dessert lover. Allow yourself a moment to admire your work before diving in to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Remember, the joy of baking comes not just from the delicious end result, but also from the process itself.

6. The Secret Ingredient: Kirsch

The secret ingredient that sets apart a genuine Black Forest cake, or Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, from its imitations is Kirsch. In fact, it’s such a crucial component that in Germany a cake cannot legally be labeled as a "Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte" unless it contains this cherry liquor.

The use of Kirsch, or cherry brandy, brings a unique depth of flavor that perfectly complements the sweetness of the cherries and whipped cream. More importantly, it gives the cake its distinct alcoholic touch.

To incorporate this, you would need:

  • 1/2 cup of Kirsch

After the sponge cake is baked and cooled, and before you spread the cherry filling, generously brush each cake layer with Kirsch. The moist chocolate sponge will absorb the cherry brandy, adding another layer of flavor to the cake. Repeat this step for each layer as you assemble your cake.

Now, if you’re preparing this cake for a family event where children will be present, or if you simply prefer a non-alcoholic version, you can substitute the Kirsch with an equivalent amount of cherry juice. While this won’t offer the same depth of flavor, it’ll still make for a delicious cake.

7. Presentation Matters

Aesthetics play a big part in the making of a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. The purpose of the chocolate shavings is not only to add to the flavor profile but also to mimic the appearance of a forest floor, tying in with the name and origin of the cake.

To create the chocolate shavings, you’ll need:

  • A block of dark chocolate
  • A vegetable peeler or cheese slicer

Simply run the peeler or slicer along the edge of the chocolate block to create thin curls or shavings. Scatter these generously over the top and sides of the cake, and arrange some whole cherries around the border of the cake for a pop of color.

Remember to take your time with this step. The more care you put into the presentation, the more spectacular your Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte will look when it’s time to serve.


Congratulations! Having followed these detailed steps, you now know how to make an authentic German Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. From gathering the ingredients to preparing the chocolate cake, cherry filling and whipped cream, and finally assembling and presenting your masterpiece, you have embarked on a culinary journey through the German Black Forest.

Remember, the key to a successful Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte lies in the quality of the ingredients, patience, and a keen eye for presentation. Whether you’re making it for a special occasion or an everyday dessert, this cake is sure to leave a lasting impression.

As you slice into the moist chocolate sponge, revealing the layers of whipped cream and cherry filling imbued with Kirsch, take a moment to appreciate the artistry that goes into the creation of this German delicacy. Enjoy every bite of your Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, savoring the blend of flavors and textures that make it one of the world’s most beloved cakes. And most importantly, don’t forget to share the joy and pleasure of this delightful dessert with others.