This German Black Forest Cake recipe involves a number of different components and steps, including a cherry brandy syrup that soaks into the cooked cake layers, but it is absolutely worth the time and effort.
The brandy used in this recipe is called Kirschwasser, which is made from sour cherries known as Morello cherries. The spirit has both a sweet and distinctly tart cherry taste.
The Black Forest region of Germany produces some of this spirit, where you can find it served as an after-dinner drink or included in moderate amounts in selected sweet and savory regional dishes. If you can’t find Kirschwasser in your local liquor stores, try substituting with a different tart cherry brandy or spirit.
German Black Forest Cake
For the Cake:
- 6 whole eggs, whites separated from yolks
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp of baking soda
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
For the Syrup:
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- ½ cup Kirschwasser (a cherry brandy)
For the Filling:
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
- ¾ cup of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
For the Topping:
- 3 Tbsp dark or milk chocolate shavings or curls
- ½ cup Maraschino or fresh pitted cherries, halved
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Use some butter to grease three 9” round cake pans.
- Very lightly dust some flour onto the insides of the greased cake pans, knocking out the excess flour.
- Set the greased and floured cake pans aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and white granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
- Set the egg yolk and sugar mixture aside.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and Kosher salt.
- Beat the egg whites in yet another bowl until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture until just combined.
- Fold in the beaten egg whites into this mixture using a rubber spatula, being careful not to overmix.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared 9” round greased cake pans.
- Bake the cakes at 350F for roughly 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven, and let them cool in their pans for roughly 15 minutes.
- When the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, use a sharp paring knife to separate the edge of the cakes from the edges of the individual cake pans.
- Flip the cakes upside down carefully onto wire racks, and allow them to cool completely at room temperature.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the cherry brandy syrup.
- In a small saucepan, combine the water and white granulated sugar.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring consistently to dissolve the sugar.
- Remove the syrup from the heat, and stir in the Kirschwasser brandy.
- Allow the syrup mixture with the Kirschwasser to cool down to room temperature off the heat.
- To make the filling, whip the cold heavy whipping cream, Kosher salt, and vanilla extract together in a large mixing bowl until soft peaks form.
- *You can also use a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer here if you prefer.
- Whisk in the confectioner’s (powdered) sugar until it has been incorporated and stiff peaks have formed.
- Carefully fold the pitted cherries into the whipped cream mixture using a rubber spatula.
- Place the whipped cream and cherry mixture in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the layers.
- Once the cakes have cooled completely, place one cooled cake layer on a flat plate or on a cake serving platter.
- Brush the top of the first cake layer with a generous amount of the Kirschwasser syrup.
- Spread about 1 cup of the whipped cream and cherry filling over the top of the first cake layer.
- Repeat this process with the second cake layer, brushing with Kirschwasser syrup and spreading some whipped cream and cherry filling on top.
- Add the third cake layer and brush with syrup.
- Cover the entire cake and sides with the remaining whipped cream mixture, spreading it as evenly and smoothly as possible.
- Garnish the top of the cake with chocolate shavings or curls and cherries.
- Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before serving, to allow the flavors to meld together and to allow for the cake to set up a bit before cutting.