How to Make Black Forest Cake

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Layers of cream, poached cherries and rich dark chocolate make this traditional German Black Forest cake an utterly delicious, indulgent and show-stopping creation. This decadent cake tastes every bit as incredible as it looks and is guaranteed to impress even the toughest of critics. This knock-out classic may look complex, but you can learn to make it with this straightforward recipe.

This Black Forest cake tastes as good as it looks.
This Black Forest cake tastes as good as it looks. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Ingredients: For the Black Forest Cake

  • 2.8 ounces / 80 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup superfine (caster) sugar
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Ingredients: For the Poached Cherries

  • 1/2 cup superfine (caster) sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound / 450 grams fresh or frozen pitted cherries, plus extra for decorating
  • 6 tablespoons Kirsch liqueur, optional

Ingredients: For the Cream Filling

  • 10.2 fluid ounces / 300 milliliters heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered (icing) sugar, plus extra for decorating

Ingredients: For the Ganache

  • 3.5 ounces / 100 grams dark chocolate, chopped, plus extra for decorating
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Step 1: Measuring the Ingredients

Baking is a science, so carefully measure out all of your ingredients beforehand for the best results.

Carefully measure your ingredients beforehand.
Carefully measure your ingredients beforehand. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 2: Preparing the Pans

Heat the oven to 335 F / 170 C. Grease and line two 7-inch / 18-centimeter round cake tins and set aside.

Tip

    • Alternatively, you can use a 2-by-7-inch / 18-centimeter cake tin and slice the cake in half before assembly.
Grease and line your cake tins.
Grease and line your cake tins. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 3: Melting the Butter

In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt together the butter and vanilla extract. Set this mixture aside to cool.

Melt the butter and vanilla over low heat.
Melt the butter and vanilla over low heat. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 4: Combining the Eggs and Sugar

Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl. With an electric hand mixer, whisk them together on a low speed to just combine.

Whisk the eggs and sugar to combine.
Whisk the eggs and sugar to combine. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 5: Whisking the Eggs and Sugar Over Heat

Set the egg mixture over a pan half-filled with boiling water. Continue to whisk on low speed for 3 minutes, and then increase the speed to medium and whisk the mixture until it is pale and tripled in volume.

Whisk until the mixture is pale and tripled in volume.
Whisk until the mixture is pale and tripled in volume. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 6: Cooling the Egg Mixture

Remove the bowl from above the hot water, and continue to whisk until the mixture has cooled to room temperature -- about 3 to 4 minutes. The mixture will be thick and leave a ribbon trail when the beaters are lifted out of the bowl.

The mixture should be thick so that it leaves a trail.
The mixture should be thick so that it leaves a trail. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 7: Adding the Melted Butter and Flour

Pour the melted butter down the sides of the bowl, and gently fold it in. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and gently fold the batter again until the flour is just incorporated.

Warning

    • Be careful not to over-fold the mixture here, as it will lose all of its air. 
Gently fold in the dry ingredients.
Gently fold in the dry ingredients. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 8: Baking and Cooling

Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins, and bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until the cake rises and springs back when gently pressed in the center. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins before inverting onto a wire rack.

Let the cakes cool in their tins.
Let the cakes cool in their tins. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 9: Making the Poached Cherries

While the cakes are cooling, make the poached cherries. Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan set over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the Kirsch liqueur and cherries, and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cherries have absorbed some of the syrup and are puffed and tender. Strain the cherries and the syrup into two separate bowls, and set both aside to cool.

Set the cherries and syrup aside to cool.
Set the cherries and syrup aside to cool. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 10: Making the Chocolate Ganache

To make the chocolate ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute before gently stirring to combine.

Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate.
Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 11: Making the Cream Filling

For the cream filling, add the cream and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk until the cream begins to just hold its shape.

Whisk the cream until it begins to hold its shape.
Whisk the cream until it begins to hold its shape. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 12: Glazing the Cake Layers

To assemble the cake, place the first cake layer on a plate or stand and brush it generously with cherry syrup.

Glaze the first cake layer with syrup.
Glaze the first cake layer with syrup. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 13: Filling With Cream and Cherries

Generously spoon 3 tablespoons of the cream on top the first cake layer, leaving a slight border around the edge. Arrange the poached cherries on top of the cream.

Arrange the cherries on top of the cream.
Arrange the cherries on top of the cream. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 14: Top With the Second Cake Layer

Add the second cake layer. Brush again with cherry syrup, and then pile on the cream and extra cherries.

Top with the second cake layer.
Top with the second cake layer. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 15: Decorating the Cake

Finish the cake by pouring on the chocolate ganache, adding a generous dusting of powdered sugar and sprinkling with extra shaved chocolate.

Top with chocolate ganache.
Top with chocolate ganache. (Image: Thalia Ho)
Dust with icing sugar.
Dust with icing sugar. (Image: Thalia Ho)
Sprinkle with shaved chocolate.
Sprinkle with shaved chocolate. (Image: Thalia Ho)

Step 16: Serving

Chill the cake for 1 hour to make it easier to slice, taking it out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you plan on serving it.

Chill the cake before serving to make it easier to slice.
Chill the cake before serving to make it easier to slice. (Image: Thalia Ho)

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