Black Forest Cake

This deliciously moist Black Forest Cake is a cut above the rest with homemade whipped cream, rich chocolate ganache, and sweet spiked cherries.

Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand

This post is sponsored by KitchenAid.

Today’s blog post is one of the most special you’ll ever read here on SBA. I am both honored and excited to partner with KitchenAid for its 100 Year Celebration. This once-in-a-century celebration commemorates 100 years of KitchenAid inspiring culinary passion and creating new possibilities in the kitchen. The same core value launching KitchenAid back in 1919 is continuously instilled in the products created today: an inspiration by those who love to make…and I am certainly one of those people.

Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Misty Blue with chocolate cake batter

slice of black forest cake on a white plate, the rest of the cake on a wood slice cake stand, and a blue stand mixer

What is Black Forest Cake?

This is my rendition of the traditional German black forest cake aka Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Today’s towering beauty has 4 parts:

  1. My go-to chocolate layer cake
  2. Dark sweet cherries
  3. Fluffy vanilla whipped cream
  4. Dark chocolate ganache

black forest cake batter in a glass bowl

2 images of pouring chocolate cake batter into cake pans and brushing cherry soaking syrup onto cake layers

2 images of cherries in a glass bowl and adding cherries to black forest cake

Chocolate Cake

The cake recipe comes from this tuxedo cake, which was adapted from my favorite chocolate cake. It has a cake crumb so moist and chocolate-y, it sticks to your fork and melts on your tongue. Curious about the ingredients used? Hop on over to that recipe for detail. One thing I’ll mention because it’s worth repeating: hot liquid is a must in this cake batter. Why? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve instead of just sitting there. For the hot liquid, I recommend coffee which will deepen the chocolate flavor. The cake will not taste like coffee, I promise! Or you can use hot water.

Cherries & Whipped Cream

Grab a couple cans of dark sweet cherries that are soaked in heavy syrup (the can is sold as such). Reduce the syrup down on the stove as the cakes bake. Have any cherry liquor around? Add a splash and brush the mixture all over the cakes while they’re still warm. This cherry soaking syrup guarantees the moistest, most flavorful chocolate cake you will EVER taste. Think of the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten. This one’s better and we have the cherry- soaking syrup to thank.

Those cherries from the can? They’ll be layered right into the cake, seeping their magenta juices into the vanilla whipped cream. Swirled pink, the whipped cream is light, billowy, and doesn’t weigh down the cake. While this black forest cake is certainly decadent, it’s not overly heavy. A breath of fresh air considering most chocolate cakes are dense as bricks!

Most of vanilla whipped cream is layered inside the cake, but be sure to reserve some to lightly spread on top and around the cake. This seals in the cake’s moisture. Have I mentioned this cake is moist?

Homemade Whipped Cream in a glass stand mixer bowl

How to Make Chocolate Ganache

Black forest cake is traditionally finished with chocolate shavings, but I took it a step further and opted for chocolate ganache. The crowning glory is a layer of dazzling chocolate ganache that gently drapes over the sides for mega drama. (Because when it comes to chocolate cake, there’s gotta be drama!) Made from heavy cream and pure chocolate, there’s no garnish more appropriate for this cake masterpiece.

I’m so excited for you to try this black forest cake, a recipe that came to life from the one who inspired me to get in the kitchen.

Sally decorating a black forest cake with flowers

Super-moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, and dark sweet cherries are Black Forest Cake! Homemade chocolate cake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Slice of black forest cake on a plate

Now let’s talk about the gorgeous stand mixer you see in all these photos! The 100 Year Limited Edition Stand Mixer comes in a custom and classic color, Misty Blue– a soft blue with a hint of green that is reminiscent of one of the first KitchenAid stand mixer colors ever introduced. It displays a heritage-inspired KitchenAid® logo, a white-coated stainless steel bowl and a custom Power Hub cover celebrating 100 years of KitchenAid. 10 speeds, tilt head, 5 quart, a testament to the past 100 years!

While it may be KitchenAid brand’s 100 year anniversary, it’s a celebration for all of us. I invite you to post a photo on Instagram of your favorite memory of making in the kitchen and tag it with #MakingHistory100 and #SweepstakesUS for the chance to win a KitchenAid® 100 Year Limited Edition Stand Mixer. No Purchase Necessary. US/DC 18+. Ends 11/24/18 11:59 PM ET. Click here for sweepstakes rules.

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Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand

Black Forest Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This deliciously moist Black Forest Cake is a cut above the rest with homemade whipped cream, rich chocolate ganache, and sweet spiked cherries.


Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder*
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water or coffee*
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup*
  • 2 Tablespoons cherry liquor (sold as kirsch or kirschwasser)*

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • two 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bars (226g), finely chopped
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup*

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups (480ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (30g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  2. Make the chocolate cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, beat the oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the hot water or coffee, and beat it all until the batter is completely combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for 21-25 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pans, then remove cakes from pans and set on a cooling rack. Be careful and use two hands when handling the cakes.
  4. After the cakes have cooled, use a large serrated knife or cake leveler to slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!).
  5. Prepare the syrup: Drain the cherries, reserving 3/4 cup (180ml) of the heavy syrup. Set cherries aside. Simmer syrup and cherry liquor in a small saucepan over low heat until reduced down to 1/4 cup (60ml). Brush reduced syrup all over the cakes, reserving any leftover syrup.
  6. Slice the cherries in half, leaving a few whole cherries for garnish. Set aside.
  7. Make the ganache: Place chopped chocolate and corn syrup, if using, in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil– that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes as you prepare the whipped cream.
  8. Make the whipped cream: Using a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  9. Assemble the cake: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Spread 1 heaping cup of whipped cream evenly on top. Dot with half of the halved cherries and drizzle with a spoonful of reduced syrup. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with 1 heaping cup whipped cream, the remaining halved cherries, and another drizzle of reduced syrup. Top with the 3rd cake layer. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and all around the sides in a thin layer using an icing spatula. Use a bench scraper to smooth out the whipped cream on the sides of the cake.
  10. Pour chocolate ganache on top of the cake. Spread to the edges of cake allowing it to gently drip down the sides. Top with whole cherries. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
  11. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. For the cherry syrup, cool then cover and refrigerate overnight. The whipped cream can be prepared, covered tightly, and refrigerated overnight. Chocolate ganache can be prepared, covered tightly, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using. Let ganache sit at room temperature to soften or microwave for 5-10 seconds before using. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before slicing and serving. The frosted cake can also be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Why Room Temperature Ingredients? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. Instead of sour cream, try using plain yogurt. The cake won’t taste as rich, but it’s a fine substitution.
  3. Cocoa Powder: Use natural cocoa in the cake, not dutch-process. Here’s the difference between natural cocoa powder and dutch-process cocoa powder.
  4. Espresso Powder: Espresso powder and coffee will not make the chocolate taste like coffee. Rather, they deepen the chocolate flavor. I highly recommend them both. If coffee isn’t your thing, you can leave out the espresso powder and use boiling hot water instead of the hot coffee.
  5. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  6. Cherries: Canned dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup (they are sold as such) are imperative to the recipe. The syrup will be reduced down. Do not use fresh dark sweet cherries, sour cherries, or maraschino cherries.
  7. Cherry Liquor: The cherry liquor is optional, but really gives the soaking syrup (step 4) that over-the-top delicious flavor setting this black forest cake apart from others. You can also add a splash to the whipped cream!
  8. Corn Syrup: I like to add a touch of light corn syrup to the ganache to give it some glistening shine. This is an optional ingredient.

Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand with a KitchenAid stand mixer in the background

389 Comments

  1. Hello, is it possible to make this cake in two 9×13 layers? How would the baking time and temperature change? Would anything else have to be altered? Thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Meena, you can bake this cake in a 9×13 inch baking pan (or, make two separate batches for 2, 9×13 layers). Same oven temperature, about 35-40 minutes bake time. You may need to get a little creative with how you layer the whipped cream, ganache and cherries – you’ll likely need less of each. Hope it’s a hit!

  2. This recipe looks incredible! I want to use it to make 2 small cakes, each would have 3 layers that are 6″ diameter. Would one recipe be sufficient? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shay, One recipe split between six 6-inch pans would likely work. Or if you’d like to be exact, for each 6-inch cake you can use the recipe for Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes and follow the baking directions in the post 6 Inch Cakes. You can cut the amount of cherries, whipped cream and ganache in half for this size cake.

      1. Thank you for the fast reply!

  3. Made this cake for the first time and came out super moist and delicious!! My hubby loved it and the kids finished it before supper time. Will definitely bake it again and looking forward to trying out the rest of your cakes. Thanks Sally for such a easy recipe!

  4. Hello! Is it possible to make one large cake and cut the layers evenly afterwards? How would I alter the baking time so it doesn’t dry out but bakes evenly?

    Thank you!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nic! For best results we recommend baking thinner layers as directed in the recipe. This ensures an even bake and also ovoids the possibility of the cakes collapsing from being over-filled.

  5. Hi Sally,

    I’m looking forward to making this amazing cake this weekend for my husband’s birthday. Unfortunately, I can’t find Kirsch anywhere near me and can’t get it online delivered in time. I read online that cognac could be a substitute. Should I go that route, or would it be better to just leave it out? Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Betsy, what a delicious birthday dessert! We haven’t tested it, but some readers have reported success using cognac in place of cherry liquor. If you try anything, let us know how it goes. Hope your husband has a great birthday!

  6. Hello, my store only had regular bing cherries in syrup. They are not sweet at all to taste so I know I probably need to adjust the syrup. Suggestions to ensure this part is sweet enough? Many thanks in advance!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Helen, those cherries should be just fine to use here without any adjustments. Hope you love this cake!

  7. I made this to the letter except for the kirsch, which I couldn’t find. This recipe is genius. I bake every weekend and I always look on your website for the recipe I’m making. Your chocolate cake is fantastic!

  8. DO NOT keep the cake at room temp. I chilled it over an hour in the fridge, set it out on the table to look pretty, and the whipped cream frosting melted and the cake almost toppled! We caught it before it did and ended up flipping it into a bowl. So it turned into trifle. Very tasty! Just keep it cold cold cold. 75F in the house wasn’t cold enough and I’m not an experienced enough baker to know whipped cream frosting should always be kept in the fridge.

  9. Really I happy to say your post is very valuable and informative thank you so much for providing this

  10. I made This cake for my daughter’s 6th bday this week and it was a big success , thank you ! This recipe is AMAZING ! I have now been tasked to make it for her party as well :). The 3 layered 9” rounds won’t be enough for 25 people so I want to do this in a 9×13. My question is how to go about this if I want to achieve the same layered look? For the cake batter – can I follow the same recipe and divide it into 2 9×13 pans to give me 2 layers? Will the cream and ganache recipe amounts change at all or will those hold to spread between 2 9×13 layers? How would you recommend going about making this recipe in a 9×13 please and also if I’m planning for 25 people do I need to double it ? Thank you!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi there, you can bake this cake in a 9×13 inch baking pan (or, make two separate batches for 2, 9×13 layers). Same oven temperature, about 35-40 minutes bake time. You may need to get a little creative with how you layer the whipped cream, ganache and cherries – you’ll likely need less of each. Hope it’s a hit!

      1. thank you for responding Lexi! Just to clarify -the batter this recipe makes (3 9″ rounds) can be used to make 1 9×13 with 2 layers? Shall I divide the batter in 2 9×13 pans or bake it in one and split the cake in half? or are you suggesting doubling the recipe and making it in 2 9×13 pans and using both as a layer each though it may be quite thick? sorry, just want to make sure I understood before I start baking!

      2. Correct! This batter fits into 1 9×13 inch pan. You can make the batter twice and bake two 9×13 inch cakes for a 2 layer 9×13 inch cake. The layers will be quite thick that way and the cake will be very tall, so cutting small slice to feed that many makes sense. You’ll have to double the whipped cream and ganache or I’d say at least 1.5x each.

  11. I made this cake instead of my old black forest cake recipe for my daughter in law and her twin sister’s birthday because they both love BF cake. I made 1.5 times the recipe and baked it in a 10.5″ springform pan because I did not have 3 10.5′ cake pans. It has to be baked almost 80 minutes and came out perfect. I sliced it into 3 layers and it fed 16 plus people with a bit leftover. Everyone raved on that it is the best BF cake they have ever had! I could not find cherries in heavy syrup but the lighter syrup was fine when I cooked it down. Thanks you! Your recipes are amazing!

  12. This looks amazing. May I just check – when you write 2 (15 ounce) cans dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup, does it mean 2 x 15 oz cans of canned cherries? Just checking since for the other ingredients the numbers in metric indicate the total amount of each ingredient.

    1. Hi Summer, that’s correct– you’ll want 2 15 ounce cans.

  13. Thank you for this recipe . Can one use cherry pie filling instead of dark cherries.. I can’t find these where I am

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Aga, You can layer the cake with the cherry pie filling. Skip the reducing the syrup/brushing the syrup on the cakes steps.

  14. I made this for my dad’s birthday yesterday and everyone loved it. Even dad whose highest praise for food is “It’s alright” said it was good! Definitely adding this one to my recipe book, thank you for sharing!

  15. I baked this cake today for the third time and like the previous two times it came out delicious. It may not look the best but the taste is divine. I have marked on the recipe COOL COOL COOL to remind me the next time I make it not to get in a hurry and let the cake and ganache cool before assembling. Hopefully it won’t look like the leaning Tower of Pisa.

  16. I have read in your baking tips …that cake flour doesn’t do well for Chocolate cake. Is it a rule of thumb that I must only use all-purpose flour in this amazing Black Forest Recipe? Thank you ahead.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wai, correct — best to stick with all-purpose flour for this cake (and other chocolate-based cakes).

  17. I made this twice earlier this year for birthdays and I’ll be making it again this weekend. It’s so decadent and moist. Always a hit! The most difficult part of this recipe was finding the kirsch.

  18. Hi, Sally this looks delicious and before I start baking have a question for you! I plan on making a Lord of the Rings Tower Cake for a my sisters birthday cake- do you think this cake would be stable enough to hold layers of cake, frosting and fondant?
    Thank you,
    Siena.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Siena, It really depends on how many layers of cake! This is such a moist cake that we don’t recommend stacking it too high – or as the bottom tier of a tiered cake. As written it would be fine with frosting and fondant.

  19. Made this cake for my father’s 75th birthday – hands down the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made (followed by Nigella’s guiness cake), this will be my go-to cake recipe from now on!!

  20. Could I use this recipe to make cupcakes? I know it won’t be the same but I would like to use the cake base to make some cupcakes 🙂

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Robyn, We’re unsure exactly how many cupcakes this batter will make (at least 2 dozen), fill them halfway with batter. About 20-22 minutes bake time at 350F. Would love to hear how they go!

  21. Hi Sally!

    Made this cake many times before and this is my go to recipe, for any chocolate cake too.
    I am commissioned to bake this cake for 15 people in a couple of days. What size of a cake would you recommend and what measurements?
    Thank you in advance!
    Millie x

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Millie, this recipe yields 12 generous servings, so you could always cut smaller pieces if trying to feed a slightly larger crowd. If you want to scale the recipe up, our cake pan sizes and conversions will be helpful. So glad this recipe is a favorite for you!

  22. I looked at a lot of recipes before deciding on this one. I’m fed up of not listening to my instincts on recipes. Mine is in the oven and i already know it will be great. The addition of coffee, hot water etc is what told me that this was the right recipe to follow. Thank you!

  23. Hi Sally

    Can I use 8 inch pans as I don’t have 9 inch ones

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Vanessa, you can use 8 inch cake pans for this cake. The layers will be slightly thicker and require a slightly longer bake time (not much though).

  24. Hi Sally, I bought canned bing cherries in light syrup – reluctantly tried a cherry – they taste like rubber bands and look like black olives. had to order them on line (no stores in my area have canned cherries in light syrup) I’ve already glazed the cakes with the reduction syrup, made the ganache and whipping cream is it too late to switch to cherry pie filling ? Help please!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Germaine, you can layer the cake with the cherry pie filling. Your cake may be extra sweet since it’s already glazed with the reduction syrup (typically we recommend leaving this off if using cherry pie filling). Hope this helps!

  25. I made this recipe for a batch of cupcakes and used the remainder to make two six inch cakes. Absolutely delicious and versatile recipe. Two thumbs up 🙂

  26. This was my attempt to bake any cake and I just fell in love with baking and the delicious cake.
    Thank you so much for such a great recipe.
    I am so excited to try rest of your recipes.

  27. Hi! Thanks for this amazin recipe. Are these dark cherries the same as morello cherries?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Fran, Other readers have reported using morello cherries with no problem. Cook down the juice just as directed in this recipe.

  28. Michelle Pennington says:

    If I make this in advance, the sponge. Can I just add the cherries and syrup on a cold cake?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michelle, if freezing the cakes, we recommend letting them thaw completely and come to room temperature before adding the cherries and syrup.

  29. Hi,

    If I want to halve this recipe to make a smaller cake should I also bake smaller cake rounds or just split the batter between 2 cake pans instead of 3?

    Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Marisha, you can do either. Regardless, only fill your pans half way so they will continue to bake evenly and not overflow. Hope you enjoy the cake!

  30. I made this lovely cake for an Ocktoberfest party and it was a hit! The chocolate cake was very moist and had a great flavor. Thank you for this great recipe!

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