Black Forest Chocolate Cake

March  1, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by boulangere
  • Prep time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

A Black Forest Cake is traditionally chocolate, iced with whipped cream, and has a layer of fresh cherries sunken into the whipped cream between the two layers. This one begins with my Belle Foley’s Chocolate Cake, an heirloom recipe whose history you can read about here:

I managed to find some fresh cherries at the market. This is March. Their price was eye-watering. If I won’t pay that, I’m certainly not going to ask you to. As well, they looked a little tired, as though their carbon footprint was too much even for them. So I’ve used some good cherry preserves instead. In keeping with the cherry theme, I’ve added a couple of tablespoons of Kirsch, a cherry-flavored brandy, to the simple syrup that is brushed on each of the layers. The $16 edition from the discount liquor store is just fine.

A note about measurements. 4 “rounding” tablespoons of cocoa powder means just that; don’t level them off or you’ll find the chocolate taste wanting. I’ve included a photo for reference. The butter is a bit different. I find it difficult to measure the 3 rounding tablespoons of butter in the original recipe, so I’ve rounded them up to 4.


What You'll Need
  • For The Cake
  • 2 cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 Rounding tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 cup Boiling water with 1 teaspoon baking soda stirred in
  • 4 tablespoons (2ounces) Very soft butter
  • For The Simple Syrup and Icing and Filling and Chocolate Marble
  • 8 ounces Water
  • 8 ounces Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch
  • 24 ounces Heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Generous tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup Cherry preserves
  • 1 Ounce each semi-sweet and white chocolate
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” round cake pan with parchment. Don’t grease the sides; you’ll get less of a dome when the cake bakes.
  2. Measure the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, and milk into a large-ish mixing bowl. Add the boiling water with baking soda stirred in, and the soft butter. Whisk everything together. Pour into the cake pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top feels springy when tapped with your finger. Remove from oven when done, and allow to cool for 15 minutes before depanning it to finish cooling.
  3. While the cake is baking, make the simple syrup. Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir to be sure all the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool before adding the Kirsch. Also make the chocolate marble. Melt the chocolates in the microwave in 20-second increments so it doesn’t scorch. Or catch fire, but that’s a story for another time. You’ll need probably 2 settings, maybe a few seconds longer for the semi-sweet. Cover the back of a small baking sheet (or a cutting board) with plastic - it will give you a shiny finish on the back. Scrape the melted chocolates onto the plastic and use a spatula to spread them out into an even layer about 6” square, marbling them together. Don’t overmix or they’ll look muddy rather than marbled.
  4. When the cake is completely cool, after about an hour, carefully remove the parchment from the bottom. I once - and mercifully only once - forgot to. I was making a cake as a try-out for a job. I got the job, but I still remember the chef saying, “Hmm. It’s a little hard to slice.” Set the cake on a cake plate or stand - anything that doesn’t have a deep edge. A charger works well.
  5. If you have a turntable, set your plate on it. If you don’t, proceed carefully. Don’t set it on top of a cup or a glass. One of my students tried that. It didn’t end well. You need to creat a flat top. Position a serrated knife at the point where the side of the cake meets the dome. Work the knife 1/4” into that spot. Place your other hand on top of the cake and rotate it as you continue all the way around the cake making a cut 1/4” deep. When you meet your starting point, begin slicing the knife towards the center of the cake as you continue rotating it, being careful to keep your knife level. You’ll feel the center pop loose when you’ve gone all the way through. You’ll fall in love with that feeling. Well, I have. Set the top aside. I imagine you’ll have no shortage of people willing to break off chunks and make it vanish.
  6. To divide the cake into 2 layers, mark a point halfway down the side and proceed exactly as above. Lift the top layer off and set it aside. Use a pastry brush to dab the bottom layer with the simple syrup. You can be generous. It’s going to add flavor, and also guard against staling when the cake is refrigerated. You won’t use it all up. That’s okay. Place the preserves in the center of the layer and use a spatula to spread it evenly over the surface, stopping 1/2” from the edge.
  7. Whip the cream however you like to whip it. I’m fond of using a food processor because there’s less of a mess than with a mixer. If you do the same, watch it carefully; it whips much faster, and if it overwhips it will be buttery and difficult to spread. Sweetening it with powdered sugar stabilizes it more than granulated sugar can. Powdered sugar contains a small amount of corn starch as an anti-caking agent, and it absorbs some of the water in the cream. Scoop 1/2 cup of whipped cream onto the center of the layer. Use your spatula to spread it evenly over the layer all the way to the edge. Lift the top layer onto the cake and slide it around a bit if you need to to center it. Dab it with simple syrup. Scoop 1 cup of whipped cream onto the center and spread it over the surface, all the way to the edge. Dip up whipped cream with the back of your spatula and spread it along the side of the cake. Scoop any remaining whipped cream onto the top and spread it around evenly. I was taught a ratio of 1/2” of cake to 1/4” of icing, but who has ever been happy with 1/4” of icing? Don’t strive for perfection with the whipped cream. This cake breaks some rules, so the icing can too. When you’re finished, Use a paper towel to carefully wipe the edge of the plate.
  8. Retrieve the chocolate marble. Break it into 8 random pieces. Gently press one side into the top of the cake so as to mark 8 relatively equal servings. Refrigerate for an hour before slicing.
  9. To refrigerate leftover cake, press a piece of plastic against the cut sides. You don’t need to cover the entire cake because (a) it would make a mess of the whipped cream and your lovely chocolate, and (b) the whipped cream effectively covers the cake. You only need cover the cut sides. In the event there is any left, that is.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • drbabs
  • MrsBeeton
  • Bevi
  • boulangere

8 Reviews

Nancy March 25, 2022
Boulangere - nice variation with the cherry jam.
In a pinch (no cherries in market), I've also used dried cherries reconstituted with either plain hot water or the water and a boost of kirsch.
In other preparations like salads (but not Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) I've used dried cranberries, which give a nice sweet/tart note.
boulangere March 25, 2022
Wonderful ideas! Thank you, Nancy.
drbabs March 24, 2022
Love this variation on your classic recipe!
boulangere March 25, 2022
Thank you so much, Dr. B!
MrsBeeton March 24, 2022
I am going to make this cake on the weekend, if only because I want an excuse to read the recipe again. Would that everyone wrote recipes as engaging as this one! And the cake looks marvelous, too - I can't wait.
boulangere March 24, 2022
Thank you so much; I look forward to attending your event, albeit via cake. I hope you enjoy it, and have a wonderful time!
Bevi March 1, 2022
I very much look forward to trying this. I love your Belle Foley cake, and can only imagine this will be equal in fabulous flavor. And who does not love cherry preserves? I have a homemade stash of cherry lime preserves that I may try to insert.
boulangere March 1, 2022
Do it!