Authentic Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen)

Total Time
72hrs 20mins
Prep 72 hrs
Cook 20 mins

As a German woman, it breaks my heart to see all of these 'black forest cakes' in North America made with sickeningly sweet icing and gross cherry pie filling.This cake isn't meant to be very sweet but is rather a dessert for adults with deep rich flavours and enough alcohol to make your head spin! If you cannot get fresh cherries you can use canned Bing cherries but please do not use cherry pie filling because it will take away from the authentic taste of the cake. If can't find Kirsch do not use another type of alcohol because it will not turn out the same - instead use cherry juice. Because of the high alcohol content only serve this to adults.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Pit most of the cherries leaving about 10 for decoration on top of the cake. Take the pitted cherries and soak them in a jar of the 1/2 cup Kirsch overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F Line the bottom of three 9 inch round cake pans with parchment.
  3. Sift the dry cake ingredients together.
  4. Cream the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and mix well.
  6. Pour evenly into the cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
  7. Cool and remove the cakes. Prick the tops of the cakes with a toothpick and pour the 1/2 cup of Kirsch (that the cherries soaked in) onto the cake.
  8. In a bowl beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the icing sugar, salt and espresso and mix well. If the icing is too thick add Kirsch or cherry juice.
  9. Cut the cherries into halves.
  10. Place the base layer on top of your cake tray, spread 1/2 of the filling over one top, cover with cherries and top with another layer of cake.
  11. Spread the second half of the filling over that layer of cake, cover with cherries and top with the third layer of cake. Cover this and let sit in the fridge for a day or two to allow the kirsch to soak into the cake and become moist.
  12. The day you're going to serve this cake prepare the icing. Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  13. Gently fold in the dry milk and icing sugar.
  14. Add the vanilla and pour in the Kirsch until it's a good consistency.
  15. If you like more icing double this recipe. Spread the icing over all of the cake.
  16. Place the fresh, intact cherries on top for decoration and cover the top with the chocolate shavings. Serve and enjoy!
Most Helpful

This was by far the most delicious cake I have ever made from scratch - better than anything store bought or bakery made! I have never made a Black Forest cake before, but my daughter was learning about Germany in preschool and I thought it would be a fun home activity for her to participate in baking an authentic German dessert. This was the first recipe that popped up in my Google search, and I'm so glad it did! I made a few alterations to the recipe - namely that I omitted the Kirsch since children would be eating it. I also made this cake in February, when cherries are not in season and near impossible to come by in any store. I used canned cherries instead, and saved all of the drained syrup to use in place of the Kirsch. My only recommendation is to cut back on the cherry juice/kirsch this cake calls for, because the bottom layer of my cake turned into a soggy mess. I also recommend piping a layer of the filling around the outside edge of the cake after you layer the filling on, and just lay the cherries in the center of the ring, thus keeping them away from the outside edges. My cherries slid out of the sides as soon as I added the next layer of cake on top, so this would prevent that from happening. And even though the recipe says to add cherry juice if the filling is too thick - don't! The filling SHOULD be thick, so it can support the next cake layer and not squish out the sides. I learned that too late. I used maraschino cherries to decorate the top of my cake since I didn't have enough canned cherries to use on the top. All in all, an AMAZING recipe! My head is already floating in the clouds with how great this cake turned out, I can't even imagine the results if I actually used the Kirsch!! Thank You, Bekah_Goertzen!!!

haven39176 February 28, 2013

Just like my Mother's that migrated over here in 1962 from Nurnberg, Germany. Parents owned a Bakery Shop before Russians destroyed the city during WWII. Only difference with recipe would be the added ground cloves, cinnamon, and coffee. Otherwise - PERFECT!

Virginia June 09, 2015

This cake is unbelievably good. I made it for a German-themed Easter gathering. The host, who was born and raised near Stuttgart, actually jumped with glee when I arrived with the cake. He said it was very authentic and as good as any he's ever had back home. He even posted a picture of the cake on Facebook, and it was only the second picture in 5 years he's ever posted!<br/><br/>There were only about a dozen people at the get-together, and the cake was such a big hit I was commissioned to make four more cakes for $50 each! That certainly helped me get over the sticker shock I experienced when I purchased the Kirschwasser.<br/><br/>I made the recipe exactly as stated with canned pitted dark cherries in heavy syrup (Oregon brand, two 15oz cans, drained, including the 15 or so cherries I reserved for the garnish) because I could not locate fresh cherries in any local markets in April. <br/><br/>I also made two minor procedural modifications: 1) I followed the lead of the reviewer who linked her modified recipe for this cake by gradually brushing the 1/2 cup Kirsch that the cherries had soaked in onto the tops of the three cakes (I had poked about 30 holes with a toothpick in each cake) while the cakes were still in the pans and had not yet cooled. I did incorporate the full 1/2 cup amongst the three layers. 2) I beat the whipped cream to just shy of soft peaks and added the powdered sugar, dry milk, and Kirsch, then beat to stiff peaks. I didn't want to risk overbeating the icing while trying to thoroughly incorporate the stabilizers/flavors. I also doubled the icing quantity to be certain I would have enough to both frost and decorate. I'll use the leftovers to dip strawberries for dessert another night.<br/><br/>I was frustrated that I was short on time while decorating the cake and I somehow had a clogged piping tip, so my intended rosettes looked more like blobs, but no one at our dinner party cared about that. I'll be sure to leave more time to troubleshoot little issues like that next time I make the cake.

TrinityL* April 21, 2014