Have you eaten Black Forest cake? Perhaps is it your favourite choice of cake for any special occasion? Do you know that this cake goes by another name, which is Black Forest Gateau?

Black Forest Cake
Black Forest Cake

This delicious cake is categorized into chocolate sponge cake, filled with a rich cherry filling based on the German dessert named Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte that means Black Forest Cherry-torte. This cake consists of several layers of sponge cake filled with whipped cream and cherries. For the additional topping, it is decorated with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and maraschino cherries. This cake originated from Germany and was first created by the confectioner Josef Keller.

In some countries, the toppings for this cake used some sour cherries in between the layers. Traditionally, Kirschwasser (a clear spirit from sour cherries) is also added to the cake. Sometimes the baker will use other spirits such as rum in Austrian recipes.

The history behind black forest’s name

Black Forest Cake
Black Forest Cake

Why does this cake is called a black forest? Is it because of the cake’s appearance that resembles the trees deep in the forest? According to one of the story versions, this cake is named after the mountain range in Germany’s southwest, the Black Forest or Schwarzwald. However, people have believed that the Black Forest’s name derives from the speciality liquor of the region, which is the Schwarzwälder Kirsch. Some sources have also claimed that the name is inspired by the women’s traditional costume in the Black Forest region, with a big red pom-poms hat called Bollenhut.

The history behind the creation of the cake

This cake originated from the Black Forest Region, called Der Schwarzwald, in Germany. It is located in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The confectioner Josef Keller (1887-1981) has claimed to have invented the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in 1915 at the prominent café Agner in Bad Godesberg, which now is a suburb of Bonn, located about 500 km North of the Black Forest. However, according to research in 1930 by the Tingen Town archivist, there has been evidence that the master patissier, named Erwin Hildenbrand, have invented the Black Forest Gateau in the Spring of 1930 at CafWalz.

Black Forest Cake
Black Forest Cake

Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte was also first mentioned in 1934 in writings. At that time, the cake was particularly associated with Berlin, but it was also available in high-class confectionery in other German, Swiss, and Austrian cities. In 1949, this cake took 13th place in the list of best-known German cakes.

This cake cannot be sold legally under the name of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte if the ingredients don’t include the liquor in Germany. Although the authentic German Black Forest is made with Kirsch, in the United States, the cake is usually made without any alcohol and is substituted with fruit-based brandy, rum, or fruit juice.

Kirsch and its substitute

When talking about black forest cake, kirsch liquor will come into our mind, as it is the main ingredient for authentic black forest cake. Kirsch or Kirschwasser in German is cherry water, a clear, un-aged brandy distilled from the fermented juice of black morello cherries. The crushed pits of the cherries are included in making this brandy. Hence the flavour is described as pungent. It has a clean, subtle cherry aroma but is not too overpowering or artificial.

However, if you are looking for another substitute for the liquor, you can try using other fruit brandies, like apricots, apples, peach, or blueberry. You can also replace it with cognac, cherry vodka or schnapps. If you want to use a non-alcoholic one, try using plain cherry juice or maraschino cherry juice. If you plan to use those juice, be sure to reduce the quantity of sugar so your cake wouldn’t be too sweeter than what you expected.

Black Forest Cake
Black Forest Cake

The recipe for Black Forest Cake

The time needed for the ingredients preparations are about 30 minutes, and the cooking time is about 40 minutes, taking a total time of 1 hour and 10 minutes. We have compiled the ingredients and instructions below from the What’s Cooking America recipes.


  • 1 box of dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon of red food colouring
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of heavy cream or whipped cream
  • 1/3 cup of powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup of Kirschwasser, divided
  • 1 container of whipped icing (vanilla/cream cheese)
  • 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling, divided
  • Maraschino cherries (garnishing)
  • 1 to 2 ounces of semisweet chocolate, shaved


  • Make the chocolate cake by adding one teaspoon of red food colouring with one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Bake the cake in two 9-inch layer cake pans. After done baking, remove it from the oven and cool the cake on a wire rack. When the cake is cooled, wrap each layer with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour.
  • Whip together the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl and refrigerate it until it’s ready to use.
  • Using a sharp knife, slice each cooled cake horizontally until they make up to four layers.
  • For the first layer, place it on a flat plate and brush it with two tablespoons of cherry brandy. Fill a plastic bag with the whipped vanilla or cream cheese, pipe a generous ring about one cherry high or more around the edge of the first cake layer. Fill the call with some cherry pie filling.
  • For the second layer, place it on top of the first layer. Repeat the first layer’s process.
  • Place the third layer on top of the second layer and repeat the second layer’s process.
  • For the fourth layer, place it atop the third layer and frost the entire cake with the fresh whipped cream.
  • Garnish the top of the cake with cherries or maraschino cherries. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings for the toppings and gently press them onto the sides of the cake.
  • Lastly, refrigerate it for at least two hours before serving. For the best taste, slice and serve it while well chilled.