Black Forest Cake

Moist chocolate cake layers filled with cherry compote and fluffy whipped cream, this black forest cake is perfect for parties and gatherings! Just one bite and you’ll be smitten!

About This Recipe

A classic black forest cake is a rich and decadent chocolate sponge cake layered with tart cherries and whipped cream. The cake is typically soaked in cherry syrup to enhance the flavor and moistness. The top of the cake is often decorated with more whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and whole cherries. The combination of the rich chocolate cake, sweet cherries, and light whipped cream makes for a delicious and indulgent dessert.

For the chocolate cake I used my go-to moist chocolate cake recipe, but tweaked the quantities to make 2 eight inch cake layers instead of three. It’s a quick, easy, one-bowl recipe. It’s made with vegetable oil instead of butter which keeps the cake soft and moist for days!

The cherry compote is made with fresh cherries and has the perfect amount of tartness that complements the sweetness of the chocolate cake so well. And the amount of sugar can easily be reduced or increased according to how sweet your cherries are.

The whipped cream frosting consists of cold heavy cream and powdered sugar beaten to beautiful, fluffy, stiff peaks. Whipped cream pairs incredibly well with the soft chocolate cake and tart cherries, truly completing this black forest cake!

What You Need To Make This Recipe

Ingredients for the Chocolate Cake Layers

Flour: this cake is made with regular all-purpose flour, in fact, that’s what I use for all of my cake recipes. No need for any fancy things like cake or self-rising flour.

Cocoa powder: I used dutch-processed cocoa powder for a strong chocolate flavor. Remember, the better the quality of your cocoa powder the more intense the chocolate flavor will be in the cake.

Baking powder & soda: these are the rising agents in this recipe, they react with acids in the other ingredients which produces carbon dioxide, in turn causing the cake to rise making it soft and fluffy. It’s very important to make sure that you check the expiration date on baking powder/soda before using them in any recipe.

Buttermilk: use at room temperature, I used homemade buttermilk, it literally take minutes to make, see how here.

Vegetable oil: use any flavorless oil like sunflower or canola oil.

Eggs: use at room temperature for the best results. Ingredients at the same temp. incorporate more easily.

Coffee: you’ll need warm brewed coffee, this helps enhance/intensify the chocolate flavor, you will not be able to taste it at all.

Ingredients for Cherry Compote & Whipped Cream Frosting/Toppings

For the Cherry Compote

Cherries: washed and pitted.

Granulated sugar: this is for sweeting the cherry filling. Start with less, then taste and add more according to how sweet your cherries are.

Cornstarch: this is for thickening the cherry compote.

Slat: adding a little bit of salt helps balance the sweetness of the cherry filling.

Lemon zest: this is an optional ingredient, so you can skip it if you’d like.

For the Whipped Cream & Toppings

Heavy Cream: make sure the cream has a fat percentage of 35% or higher otherwise the cream will not whip into stiff peaks. Also it MUST be chilled!

Powdered Sugar: the amount can be adjusted according to how sweet you want the frosting to be. Or just use the amount specified in the recipe.

Chocolate Shavings: this for garnishing, I just used a peeler to peel chocolate shavings from a bar of chocolate. Or you could just buy chocolate shavings.

Cherries: you should also save a few pretty-looking whole cherries for the top of your cake.

How To Make Black Forest Cake

Step 1: Make the chocolate cake: in a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients for the chocolate cake.

Step 2: Add in all the wet ingredients and combine to form a smooth and runny batter.

Step 3: Divide the batter between two greased and lined eight inch cake pans. Bake at 180 °C / 350 °F for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs stuck to it. Let the cakes cool for at least 15 minutes in their pans before flipping them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 4: Prepare the cherry compote & Whipped cream frosting: in a saucepan/pot combine water with all of the ingredients except for the cherries. Mix thoroughly to get rid of any clumps of cornstarch. Add in the pitted cherries and give everything a good mix. Now cook this on medium-high for about 10 minutes until it thickens. Transfer the compote to a separate bowl and let that cool down completely. Beat cold heavy cream and powdered sugar to stiff peaks with an electric hand/stand mixer (you could also use a whisk but it will take a lot longer!).

Step 5: Assembly: on a cake stand or large plate place a layer of chocolate cake and then spread on half of the cherry compote.

Step 6: Add half of the whipped cream on top of the cherry compote and spread it out using an offset spatula. Don’t spread it out all the way to the edges because the weight of the next cake layer will do that for you.

Step 7: Add on the next layer of chocolate cake and repeat the exact same steps as before. Garnish the top with some fresh cherries and chocolate shavings.

Storing The Black Forest Cake

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. It’s best to store it in an air-tight container but you could also just use a large bowl to cover bigger pieces of cake. The cake stays fresh for 2-3 days. NOTE: if you don’t cover the cake it can easily dry out in the fridge!

Both the chocolate cake and cherry compote can be made 1-2 days ahead. Once the chocolate cake layer are fully cooled, wrap them tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. The cherry compote should also be stored in the refrigerator. Both can be used directly from the fridge once you’re ready to assemble the cake.

To Freeze the Cake Layers: To freeze the cake, wrap it with a layer of plastic wrap, then in one layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature, then frost the cake as usual.

Pro Tips

  • Measure the dry and wet ingredients properly. For the flour spoon it into a measuring cup and level it using the back of a spoon.
  • If you have a convection oven (oven with a fan setting) I recommend reducing the temperature by 20 degrees
  • The chocolate cake batter will be a bit runny and this totally normal.
  • Baking time may vary: all ovens are different, your cake might take a longer to fully bake, or it might bake faster. So it’s best to start checking on the cake at 25 minutes.
  • If the baking time is over and your cake is still raw in the center, cover the top of the cake with some tin foil and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until fully baked. This will prevent the top from burning. You can do the same if the top of the cake browns too fast.
  • Don’t skip the hot coffee, this is what brings out the rich flavor of chocolate in this cake recipe, many recipes just use hot water but coffee really enhances the intensity of chocolate, if that makes sense!
  • Only got 1 pan? That’s totally ok, bake the cake in 2 batches. While each cake bakes cover and leave the batter at room temperature.
  • Adjust the amount of sugar in the cherry filling according to how sweet your cherries are.
  • Make sure you heavy cream is chilled otherwise it will not beat into stiff peaks.

FAQ’s

How to make buttermilk at home?

It’s super easy, just add 1 tablespoon of vinegar for every 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for a few minutes and it’s ready to use!

Can I make the cherry compote with frozen cherries?

Absolutely! If cherries are not in season then you could definitely use frozen pitted cherries. The recipe and steps will be the exact same as with fresh cherries.

Can I use a 6 inch cake pan?

If you want to use a 6 inch cake pan, I’d recommend you make 3 layers instead of 2, because the cakes will be quite thick if you make 2, and they’ll take so much longer to bake in the center causing the tops to burn.

Why is it called black forest cake?

The Black Forest cake, also known as Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte in German, is named after the Black Forest region in southwestern Germany. The cake is traditionally made with layers of chocolate sponge cake, cherries, whipped cream, and Kirsch (a type of cherry brandy, which is not in this recipe of course), which are all ingredients commonly found in the Black Forest region. The cake is said to have originated in this region, which is known for its dense, dark forests and cherry orchards.

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Recipe Card

Black Forest Cake

Moist chocolate cake layers filled with cherry compote and fluffy whipped cream, this black forest cake is perfect for parties and gatherings! Just one bite and you’ll be smitten!

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 35 min

Total Time: 1 hrs. 5 min (does not include cooling time for cakes and filling)

Course: Dessert

Servings: 12

Calories: 441kcal

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (240g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder (65g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (5g)
  • 2 tsp baking soda (10g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3g)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temp. (240ml)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (120ml)
  • 2 eggs, room temp.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup warm coffee (180ml)

For the Cherry Compote:

  • 1/3 cup water, room temp. (80ml)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar (75g)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (zest of a small/medium sized lemon)
  • 500g cherries, washed & pitted

For the Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold (240ml)
  • 2-3 tbsp powdered sugar (25g)

Toppings:

  • Fresh cherries with stems
  • Chocolate shavings

Equipment/Utensils

  • 2 Large bowls
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • 2, 8 inch round cake pans (one can work as well)
  • Medium sized saucepan/pot
  • Electric mixer (to beat whipping cream)
  • Large serving plate or cake stand to assemble the cake on
  • Offset spatula (not necessary)

Instructions

Chocolate Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 °F. Grease and line 2, 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper and set aside
  2. In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients for the chocolate cake. Give it a whisk to fully incorporate all of the ingredients.
  3. Next add all in of the wet ingredients except for the coffee. Whisk until combined. Add in warm coffee and whisk until incorporated. You should end up with a smooth and runny batter.
  4. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with a few crumbs stuck to it, you don’t want a dry, overbaked chocolate cake!
  5. Once baked let the cakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before flipping them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cherry Compote:

  1. In a medium sized saucepan/pot, whisk together water, granulated sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, salt, and, lemon zest. Add in the cherries and give it good mix.
  2. Now place the pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook while stirring for 7-10 minutes until the mixture thickens and the cherries are mushy.
  3. Remove from the heat and let the compote cool down for a bit before transferring it to a separate bowl. Cool completely in the refrigerator.

Whipped Cream Frosting:

  1. Whip cold heavy cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form, this takes 7-8 minutes with an electric mixer. Tip: use a cold metal bowl, this will help the cream beat quickly!

Assembly:

  1. Place the first layer of chocolate cake on a cake stand or serving plate.
  2. Spread on half of the cherry compote filling.
  3. Next, spread on half of the whipped cream on top of the cherry filling. You could use an offset spatula or just a regular spatula.
  4. Add on the next layer of chocolate cake, with the bottom of the cake facing upwards.
  5. Repeat the same process as above: spread on the remaining cherry compote, then the remaining whipped cream frosting.
  6. Garnish with cherries and chocolate shavings. Chill the cake for at least 15 minutes before serving, enjoy!

Notes:

If you want to frost the sides of your cake, you could either make more whipped cream, about 1 1/2 cups, or use less in between the layers.

Let the cherry compote cool completely before assembling the cake.

The chocolate cake layers and the cherry compote filling filling can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Nutrition

Calories: 440.09kcal

Total Fat: 18.85g

Carbs: 66.8g

Sugars: 46.49g

Protein: 5.56g

Sodium: 422.96mg

Fiber: 2.78g

** Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more. **

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