Black Forest Cake Recipe

This Black Forest Cake recipe combines rich chocolate cake, fluffy whipped cream, and cherries for a show-stopping dessert. Top it with chocolate shavings and fresh whipped cream for an unforgettable cake. 

For more German desserts, be sure to try our Lebkuchen cookies recipe, or give these sweet Almond Bars a try. And who could resist these Chocolate Raspberry Stout Cupcakes?

Slice of black forest cake served on a white dessert plate.

Why Make Black Forest Cake

It’s always fun to try something new, but the truth is that there’s a reason the classics are…the classics.

Black Forest Cake is a perfect example of a tried-and-true classic that you should have in your arsenal. 

I promise you won’t be disappointed with this cake. Here are a few reasons why this recipe works so well,

  • It’s not overly sweet. With a simple whipped cream topping, it has just the right amount of sweetness, allowing the tart cherries and rich chocolate to shine through.
  • Cherry liqueur adds a burst of flavor. Kirschwasser-infused syrup keeps the cake moist and infuses the chocolate cake with extra cherry flavor.
  • It’s easy to assemble. Uneven cake layers or gaps between the layers? No problem! Thanks to the forgiving whipped cream topping, Black Forest Cake is a breeze to put together – even for beginner bakers.
  • Chocolate shavings and fresh cherries make this cake look impressive without requiring any professional decorating skills.
  • It’s ideal for special occasions. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or Valentine’s Day, this cake will make the occasion feel extra special.

Love sponge cakes? Try our easy Boston Cream Pie next! And for a frozen treat, be sure to add this Frozen Mudslide ice cream drink to your menu asap!

Ingredient Notes 

Slice of cake being lifted off cake platter.
  • Cocoa Powder – Gives the cake a rich chocolate flavor and dark color. 
  • Instant Espresso Powder – Enhances the cake’s deep chocolate flavor.
  • Buttermilk – Adds flavor, richness, and helps activate the baking soda. Use our guide on how to make buttermilk for an easy substitute if you don’t have any on hand.
  • Eggs – Add richness and structure to the cake, in addition to helping it rise a little better in the oven. 
  • All-Purpose Flour – Gives structure to the cake and provides a light but sturdy texture.
  • Kosher Salt – Balances the sweetness and enhances the flavors.
  • Vegetable Oil – Adds moisture and richness. Use a standard vegetable oil blend, sunflower oil, or even canola oil. 
  • Boiling Water – Dissolves the espresso powder for an extra-smooth cake batter.
  • Kirschwasser – A brandy made from cherries harvested in the Black Forest of Germany. You can usually find it at a liquor store. Feel free to swap it out for another cherry liqueur. 
  • Heavy Whipping Cream – The base of the whipped cream topping.
  • Sweet Cherries – Use fresh sweet cherries, and be sure to save 12 of them for the finishing garnishes. 
  • Chocolate Shavings – For garnishing the finished cake. 

How to Make Black Forest Cake

Step by step photos showing how to make cake batter for Black Forest Cake.

Bake The Cake.

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a mixing bowl. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whip the remaining wet cake ingredients together until foamy. Then blend in the dry ingredients until just combined and the batter is smooth.
  2. Divide the batter evenly between the baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each pan comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for about an hour.

Mix The Syrup

  1. As the cakes bake and cool, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, letting it boil for one minute. 
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the Kirsch. Set aside to cool.
Step by step photos showing how to make whipped cream for cake.

Prep The Frosting

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whip the cold heavy cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and beat to stiff peaks. Chill. 
Cherry syrup being brushed onto baked cake.


  1. Run a paring knife along the inside edges of the cake pans to release the cooled cakes. Turn the first layer onto a large cake platter and trim off the dome with a serrated cake knife (save it for snacking!). Use a pastry brush to brush a generous amount of syrup over the cake. 
  2. Top the first layer with about 1 cup of whipped cream. Spread it out evenly and top it with half of the cherries. 
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with the second cake layer. 
  4. Place the final cake layer on top and brush well with syrup. Top it with 1 cup of whipped cream and spread it over the edges of the cake. As you smooth out the cream, fill in any gaps between the layers with whipped cream as needed. 
  5. Decorate the cake by piping rosettes of whipped cream on top. Add chocolate shavings and fresh cherries to finish and serve. 
Slice of black forest cake with a bite taken out.

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Black Forest Cake

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By: Aimee
This Black Forest Cake recipe combines rich chocolate cake, fluffy whipped cream, and cherries for a show-stopping dessert. Top it with chocolate shavings and fresh whipped cream for an unforgettable cake. 
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 slices


For the Chocolate Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the Syrup

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup Kirschwasser, (see notes below)

For the Frosting

  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and sliced in half
  • ½ cup chocolate shavings (see notes)
  • 12 whole sweet cherries, for garnish
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For the Cakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment paper circles on the bottoms, then spray with baking spray (or use our homemade cake release). Dust pans with a pinch of cocoa powder, optional.
  • In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, instant espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat oil, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and hot water until combined (and foamy). Add dry ingredients and blend just until batter is smooth and combined.
  • Distribute the batter between the three baking pans. Bake cakes for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for about an hour.

For the Syrup

  • While cakes are cooking and cooling, make the syrup. Combine the sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for a complete minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the Kirschwasser. Set aside and allow to cool.

For the Frosting

  • For the whipped cream frosting, combine cold whipped cream and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer over high speed, whip the cream until peaks form. Beat in vanilla extract and beat until stiff peaks. Set aside.


  • To assemble the cake: Use a knife to run along the edges of the cake pans to release the cakes. Turn the first cake layer out onto a large cake platter. Cut off the dome of the cake using a sharp knife (set aside to eat later)! Using a pastry brush, add a generous amount of the syrup over the cake.
  • Spoon about 1 cup of the whipped cream over the first layer of cake, spread evenly and add about half of the cherries over the whipped cream.
  • Repeat by adding the second cake layer, syrup, whipped cream, and remaining cherries.
  • Add the final layer of cake on top. Brush on syrup. Spread 1 cup of the whipped cream and smooth it out. Spread over the edges of the cake, filling in any gaps between the layers with extra whipped cream. Use a spatula to smooth out the sides of the cake. With the remaining whipped cream, pipe rosettes on top of the cake. Add chocolate shavings and whole cherries for a garnish.


  • Kirsch, or Kirschwasser, is a brandy made from cherries harvested in the Black Forest of Germany. This sweet cake gets it’s name from this cherry. You can usually find it at a liquor store, or you can swap it out for another cherry liquor. 
  • Chocolate shavings- we used a 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bar and a vegetable peeler. To achieve perfect twirls, you may want to warm the chocolate bar very slightly.
  • For an alcohol free cake you can swap the Kirsch with a cherry syrup instead. The cake will be sweeter but still delicious.
  • Buttermilk- don’t have any on hand? Use our buttermilk substitute instead!
  • Store cake in airtight cake saver in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze cake layers wrapped in plastic wrap and foil for up to 3 months. 
  • Assemble the cake on day of serving.
  • For delicious flavor, soak the cherries in the kirschwasser syrup before assembling the cake.


Serving: 1slice, Calories: 780kcal, Carbohydrates: 91g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 44g, Saturated Fat: 23g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 132mg, Sodium: 313mg, Potassium: 275mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 58g, Vitamin A: 1964IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 145mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Cake
Cuisine: German
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!
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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

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Posted on February 26, 2024

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