Black Forest Gateau

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:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 200g egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 80g sifted flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 35g wheat flour
  • 40 g melted chocolate
  • Greaseproof paper

For the Syrup:

  • 300g cold water
  • 150g sugar
  • 70g Kirschwassser (cherry liquor)

For the Filling:

  • 400g cherries in a jar (Schattenmorellen)
  • 1 litre cream (32% fat)
  • Corn flour
  • 70g sugar
  • 5g Vanilla sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Roasted peel of lemon
  • 80g Kirschwasser (45%)
  • 100g syrup (see recipe)

For the Topping:

  • choco curls (To make chocolate curls from chocolate bar, shave bar with vegetable peeler)
  • some fresh or glace cherries for decoration.



1. Heat the eggs and the sugar in a metal bowl over the cooker for a few minutes to around fifty degrees. Remove the bowl from the fire and keep whisking the eggs to aerate the mixture until thick and fluffy, about 10 minutes. The mixture should go about 4 or 5 times as big and change colour. From orange to a very pale and white colour.

2. Add the flour and the cocoa powder and fold it in very gently. Then add the melted butter and stir it carefully.

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.

4. Take the cake out of the oven. Turn it upside down and cut some cracks into the greaseproof paper, so that the steam can evaporate. Let it rest for twenty four hours.

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.

6. Heat the rest of the cherry liquor left in the pan and let it come up to the boil.

7. Add the cherry mixture to the cherry liquor and keep stirring. Then add the cherries and heat them through.

8. Pour it into a bowl to thicken and cool down.

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.

11. For the syrup, put two parts water to one sugar in a bowl and stir it, and very important for an authentic Black Forest Gateau, add two schnapp glasses of Kirschwasser.

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.

13. Then, decorate the top of the cake with more cream with a decorating pipe and the bottom with chocolate shavings. Place the rest of the chocolate shavings in the centre of the cake with some glace cherries.


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