The Black Forest Cake Recipe You Need To Try Today

There are plenty of occasions that call for cake. From anniversaries to birthdays, bridal showers to baby showers, cakes typically make an appearance at an array of festivities.

But the problem with traditional cakes, for many people, is that they feature inches of frosting piled on top. Sure, that delicate cake crumb may be delicious, no matter the flavor, but there are plenty of people out there that just can't get past the sweet frosting.

A Black Forest cake recipe turns that traditional cake and frosting combo upside down, and we have the recipe you need to make your own at home. This light and airy cake is made by stacking three layers of moist, flavorful chocolate cake with delicious dark cherries in between each layer. Then, it's all wrapped up in luscious whipped cream, making this cake a dream come true for chocolate lovers and traditional frosting haters alike. And the best part? While this cake may look a bit too elaborate to master at home, we assure you it's not. No piping skills are required for any intricate frosting here. The only requirement is a desire to make (and eat!) a ridiculously delicious chocolate cake.

Gather the ingredients for this Black Forest cake recipe

While this Black Forest cake recipe may seem like a daunting cake recipe to tackle, especially because it includes multiple layers, it truly will come together easily. And part of that ease all starts by utilizing simple, easy-to-find ingredients.

For the chocolate cake batter, you'll need, three-quarters of a cup of white sugar, one and a half cups of brown sugar, two and a quarter cups of flour, one and a half cups of cocoa powder, two and a half teaspoons of baking powder, two teaspoons of baking soda, one teaspoon salt, three eggs, one and a half cups of milk, three-quarters of a cup of oil, and one and two-thirds of a cup of hot water.

For the filling for this Black Forest cake, you'll need two cans of dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup. If you can't find dark sweet cherries, cherry pie filling can work as a substitute. For the whipped cream topping, you'll need one 16-ounce container of heavy whipping cream and two cups powdered sugar.

Is there alcohol in this Black Forest cake recipe?

There are plenty of Black Forest cake recipes out there, and each is done a bit differently. The cake's history follows quite a few tales, so it's hard to say where exactly it first got its start. The oldest theory dates back to the late 1500s when chocolate was making its way into desserts for the first time. According to What's Cooking America, the Black Forest Region in Germany was known for making Kirsch liqueur, and the duo of chocolate and cherries finally made its way into a delicious cake.

Traditionally, many Black Forest cakes still incorporate a cherry liqueur, or Kirsch, in between each of the layers to spike the cake with a bit more cherry flavor. For this particular recipe, we chose to leave the alcohol out and let the dark sweet cherries speak for themselves by using the syrup from the cherries to brush the tops of our cake rounds. However, you could certainly still add the Kirsch, or another cherry flavored liqueur, if desired.

Mix the dry ingredients for this Black Forest cake recipe

Once your Black Forest cake recipe ingredients are gathered and ready, it's time to start preparing the chocolate cake rounds for your Black Forest cake. First, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit so it's ready for you once the batter is done. 

Then, it's time to prepare the chocolate cake batter. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add in the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. There's no need to mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl here. Turn the mixer on medium speed and mix the dry ingredients together well. You'll want to make sure the dry ingredients mixture is fully combined to avoid over-mixing later on. Your dry ingredients mixture should also be free of clumps before moving on to the next step of adding in the wet ingredients. 

Add in the wet ingredients for this Black Forest cake recipe

Once the dry ingredients for this Black Forest cake recipe are mixed together, it's time to add the wet ingredients to finish the chocolate cake batter. With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually add in the eggs one at a time. Continue mixing until the mixture starts to form clumps. Then, gradually pour in the milk and the oil and continue mixing until incorporated. At this point, the mixture will look like a thick chocolate cake batter, similar to brownie batter. 

Heat up the one and two-thirds cups of water on the stove top or pour water into a mug and warm it up in the microwave. You don't want boiling hot water for this step, but it should be hot to the touch. 

Once the eggs, milk, and oil have been incorporated, remove the bowl from the stand mixer and slowly stir in the hot water with a wooden spoon or spatula. This will make the mixture pretty thin, which is the goal for this batter. This adds a rich moisture to the chocolate cake. 

Bake and cool the cakes

Once the chocolate cake batter for this Black Forest cake recipe is finished, it's ready to divvy up into cake pans for baking. Prepare three eight-inch round cake pans with parchment paper to be sure the cake doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. To do this, cut circles out of the parchment just slightly smaller than the bottom of the pan. The shapes don't have to be perfect here. Then, spray the pan with cooking spray and place the parchment round in the bottom of each pan.

Once the pans are prepared, scoop batter into each cake pan using a measuring cup. Evenly divide the batter between the three pans, adding about two and one-quarter cups of batter to each. This will ensure you have evenly baked layers, making it easier for stacking the finished cake. 

Bake the cakes at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are no longer gooey or showing any liquid. Once baked, remove the cakes from the oven and allow to fully cool.

Make the whipped cream topping for this Black Forest cake recipe

One of the best parts of this Black Forest cake recipe is the light and dreamy whipped cream topping. And you can easily make it on your own at home.

While the cakes are cooling, make the whipped cream topping. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the entire container of heavy whipping cream. Begin whipping the cream on medium speed for about five minutes. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and continue whipping. Turn the mixer speed up to continue whipping the mixture until soft peaks form.

If you don't have access to a stand mixer, utilizing a hand mixer will certainly work to make your homemade whipped cream. Using a store-bought whipped topping option will work as a substitute here as well, but beware that it may not hold up as well as the homemade version with powdered sugar added for stabilization. 

Assemble and decorate this Black Forest cake recipe

While there are three layers to this Black Forest cake recipe, it does come together simply. But be sure not to start assembling the cake until the chocolate cake rounds are completely cooled. If the cakes are still even the slightest bit warm, the whipped cream won't hold up.

To assemble this Black Forest cake, start by placing one cake round down on a plate or cake board. Use a sharp knife to cut across the cake horizontally to even it out. Brush the liquid syrup from the cherries onto the top of the cake, and then top it with a layer of whipped cream. Add an even layer of cherries, and then add a bit more whipped cream. Repeat this step with the next layer, and then finish with the final cake layer.

Use a flat spatula to smooth whipped cream around the entire cake. Use a cake scraper to achieve the "naked" exterior look. Top your cake with leftover cake crumbles, chocolate shavings, and fresh cherries for garnish.

The Black Forest Cake Recipe You Need To Try Today
No Ratings
While this cake may look a bit too elaborate to master at home, we assure you it's not. No piping skills are required for any intricate frosting here.
Prep Time
25
minutes
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
8
servings
black forest cake
Ready in 50 minutes
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1-½ cups brown sugar
  • 2-¼ cups flour
  • 1-½ cups cocoa powder
  • 2-½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-½ cups milk
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 1-⅔ cups hot water
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup
  • 1 (16-ounce) container heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add in the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer on medium speed and mix the dry ingredients together well.
  3. With the mixer running, gradually add in the eggs one at a time. Then, add in the milk and oil and mix until incorporated.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the hot water. This will make the mixture pretty thin, which is the goal for this batter.
  5. Prepare three round 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Cut circles out of the parchment just slightly smaller than the bottom of the pan. Spray the pan with cooking spray, and then place the parchment round in the bottom of each.
  6. Scoop batter into each cake pan. Evenly divide the batter between the three pans, adding about 2-¼ cups of batter to each.
  7. Bake the cakes at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are no longer gooey. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to fully cool.
  8. While the cakes are cooling, make the whipped cream topping. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the heavy whipping cream. Begin whipping the cream on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and continue whipping. Turn the mixer speed up to continue whipping the mixture until soft peaks form.
  9. Assemble the cake once the chocolate cake rounds are completely cooled. Place one cake round down on a plate or cake board. Use a sharp knife to cut across the cake horizontally to even it out. Brush the liquid syrup from the cherries onto the top of the cake, and then top it with a layer of whipped cream. Add an even layer of cherries, and then add a bit more whipped cream. Repeat this step with the next layer, and then finish with the final cake layer.
  10. Use a flat spatula to smooth whipped cream around the entire cake. Use a cake scraper to achieve the "naked" exterior look. Top your cake with leftover cake crumbles, chocolate shavings, and fresh cherries for garnish.
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