Black Forest Cake Recipe

Black Forest Cake Recipe

The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Cooling Time: 41 mins
Total: 116 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 (4-layer) cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
688 Calories
38g Fat
78g Carbs
9g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 688
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 38g 49%
Saturated Fat 16g 81%
Cholesterol 131mg 44%
Sodium 475mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 78g 29%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 56g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 121mg 9%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 309mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Black forest cake, also known as schwarzwälder kirschtorte, is a beloved German dessert. While it shares a name with one of the country's regions, it doesn't seem to have come from the Black Forest itself—more likely Berlin—and the exact origins are unclear. What we do know is that since the late 20th century, black forest cake has been a favorite dessert around the world.

The layer cake is made up of three main components: chocolate cake, whipped cream, and cherries. Kirsch, a liqueur made from sour cherries, is essential for an authentic black forest cake. Some recipes call for fresh cherries and others canned; our recipe can be made with fresh or frozen cherries and includes a canned cherry variation.

Black forest cake is a beautiful combination of moist dark chocolate, fluffy whipped cream, and juicy cherries. It looks and tastes incredibly impressive without being hard to make. The only catch is it doesn't keep extremely well, thanks to the whipped cream, so if possible make it fresh. Serve this cake for a birthday, family dinner, or other celebration.

“This recipe is very easy to follow to make your own showstopper cake. I love the balance of the tart cherries with dark chocolate and sweet whipped cream in this traditional cake.” —Tracy Wilk 

black forest cake/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Cake:

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

  • 2/3 cup canola oil

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup hot coffee

For the Fillings:

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or 1 pound frozen dark cherries, defrosted

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cherry liqueur, such as kirsch

  • 3 cups heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate

Steps to Make It

Make the Cake

  1. Gather the cake ingredients.

    ingredients to make black forest cake

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  2. Position a rack in the upper and lower parts of the oven and heat to 350 F. Grease 2 (9-inch round) cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper. Spray the parchment generously with cooking spray.

    two round baking pans lined with parchment paper

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  3. Combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until well combined.

    black forest cake wet ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.

    black forest cake dry ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. While mixing on low, slowly add the hot coffee and mix until combined.

    black forest cake batter in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  6. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans.

    black forest cake batter in cake pans

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  7. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and turn them out on a cooling rack. Cool completely, about 45 minutes.

    black forest cake cooling on a wire rack

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

Make the Fillings & Assemble

  1. Gather the filling ingredients and cooled cake.

    ingredients to make black forest cake

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  2. Pit the cherries (if using fresh) and cut in half, reserving a few whole cherries for decorating the top.

    fresh cherries cut in half on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  3. Place prepared cherries in a medium bowl, then top with the sugar and the cherry liqueur. Mix and let sit for about an hour, tossing occasionally.

    fresh cherries in a bowl with sugar

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  4. Add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form, then, stir in 1 tablespoon sugar at a time followed by the vanilla. Continue beating at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

    whipped heavy cream in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  5. Once the cakes are cool, use a serrated knife to trim the dome from each cake layer to create flat layers, if needed. Use the knife or a cake slicer to divide each layer in 2, making 4 equal layers. Snack on any cake scraps or make cake pops.

    chocolate cake cut in half

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  6. Place one layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Use a pastry brush to gently brush 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cherry syrup on the cake.

    brushing chocolate cake half with cherry syrup

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  7. Top with 1/4 of the whipped cream, spreading into an even layer almost to the edge. Top with 1/3 of the cherries.

    chocolate cake half topped with whipped cream and cherries

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  8. Repeat with the remaining cake layers, brushing syrup on each one followed by whipped cream and cherries.

    spreading whipped cream on cake half

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  9. Use the remaining whipped cream to decorate the top. Run an offset spatula around the sides of the cake, creating a thin coating.

    frosting layered cake with whipped cream

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati

  10. Grate chocolate over the top of the cake. Decorate with a few whole cherries and serve.

    Black Forest Cake

    The Spruce Eats/Bahareh Niati


  • While black forest cake is best served as soon as possible, you can prepare the components ahead of time and assemble just before serving. Bake the cakes up to a day ahead of time, wrapping tightly after cooling. Prepare the cherries the night before and whip the cream up to 3 hours before serving, storing both in a container in the fridge. Give the whipped cream a quick whisk before assembling the cake.
  • Ensure that your chocolate cakes are completely and totally cool before assembling. Warm cake will cause the whipped cream to melt, leading to a messy and less than picture-perfect cake.
  • If you're using frozen cherries, defrost them completely and drain before using.

Recipe Variations

  • Kirsch is a traditional ingredient for black forest cake, adding a delicious cherry flavor without adding much alcohol content. If you'd like to make an alcohol-free dessert, simply leave it out.
  • Instead of fresh or frozen cherries, use 24 ounces of canned dark sweet cherries. Don't drain them and skip the sugar, adding the kirsch directly to the syrup.
  • For an extra fancy cake, top it with a generous drizzle of chocolate ganache instead of chocolate shavings.

How to Store

  • Assembled, this cake has a short shelf life thanks to the whipped cream. It's best served right away or stashed in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
  • Store leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for up to two days. The whipped cream will break down and soak into the cake the longer it sits.
  • We don't recommend freezing black forest cake. You can freeze the unadorned cakes—tightly wrap and freeze for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge or on the counter, then proceed with the recipe.