Black Forest gateau (also commonly called Black Forest cake in the USA and Australia) is the English name for the southern German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (literally "Black Forest cherry cake").
It originated in the Black Forest region of southern Germany, but it is a popular dessert throughout Germany, Austria, and the world.
Typically, Black Forest gateau consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. These layers are topped with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. Traditionally, the cake is saturated with Kirschwasser (cherry brandy), although other liquors are also used (rum is common in Austrian recipes). In the USA, Black Forest gateau is most often prepared without alcohol.
History of Black Forest Gateau
The combination of cherries, cream and Kirsch was possibly known in early days in the Black Forest. However, not in the form of a cake but as dessert. Cooked cherries would be served with cream and perhaps Kirsch. A cake combining cherries, biscuit and cream (but without Kirsch) originated probably from Switzerland. Today, the Canton of Zug is world renowned for its Zuger Kirschtorte which is a biscuit based cake formerly oozing with Kirsch. A version from the Canton of Basle exists but no Zuger will admit it approaching the quality of a Zuger Kirschtorte.
The confectioner Josef Keller claims to have invented the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its present form in 1915 in the then prominence café Agner in Bad Godesberg (today: Bonn-Bad Godesberg). This claim, however, has never been substantiated.
The Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte was first mentioned in writing in 1934 ("250 Konditorei - Spezialitäten und wie sie entstehen" - J.M. Erich Weber, Dresden 1934). At this time it was known especially in Berlin as well as good confectioners in German, Austrian and Swiss cities. In 1949 it took 13th place in the list of best known German cakes. From this time onwards, the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte became world renowned.
Here is our tried and tested recipe - as used by a Freiburg Konditorei Backerei:
For the sponge:
For the Syrup:
For the Filling:
For the Topping:
3. Put the mixture into a double lined tin, flatten it out and bake it in a pre-heated (200C) oven for about 20 minutes.
5. Open a jar of cherries, pour two tablespoons of cherry liquor in a glass bowl, and the rest of the cherry liquor into a pan. Add one and a half tablespoons of sugar and a spoonful of corn flour to the cherry liquor in the glass bowl, the corn flour acts as a thickener. Also add a pinch of roasted peel of lemon and cinnamon to it.
9. Divide the sponge into three layers and pour melted chocolate onto the bottom one and spread it evenly. This is going to be the bottom of the cake and it will give the whole gateau stability. While it cools down in the fridge, make the whipped cream and the syrup.
10. For the whipped cream, whip together cream, sugar and vanilla sugar. The key is to start whipping slowly, making the mixture lighter.
12. Take the chocolate base out of the fridge and brush on some Kirschwasser syrup on it, add part of the cherry mixture, and about 250 g of whipped cream. Put the second layer onto the cake, brush on some more of the Kirschwasser syrup and put 350 g of whipped cream. Put the third layer onto the cake, brush on some Kirschwasser syrup, and spread the rest of the whipped cream onto the cake.