Authentic Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen)

"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."
photo by Izy Hossack photo by Izy Hossack
photo by Izy Hossack
photo by Jennifer R. photo by Jennifer R.
photo by Healingfire photo by Healingfire
photo by heartky17 photo by heartky17
photo by noreilly photo by noreilly
Ready In:
72hrs 20mins
1 cake




  • 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.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F Line the bottom of three 9 inch round cake pans with parchment.
  • Sift the dry cake ingredients together.
  • Cream the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and mix well.
  • Pour evenly into the cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cut the cherries into halves.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The day you're going to serve this cake prepare the icing. Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  • Gently fold in the dry milk and icing sugar.
  • Add the vanilla and pour in the Kirsch until it's a good consistency.
  • If you like more icing double this recipe. Spread the icing over all of the cake.
  • Place the fresh, intact cherries on top for decoration and cover the top with the chocolate shavings. Serve and enjoy!

Questions & Replies

  1. Hi, can i substitute the shortening with butter for the cake recipe? If yes, how much butter should i use? Thanks.
  2. Anyone have any ideas on how to modify the recipe to make mini cakes or cupcakes instead? Also, can fresh red cherries be used in place of black cherries, and if so, do the ingredients need to be adjusted?
  3. Could you please tell me if it should be bicarbonate of soda or baking powder in the cake
  4. It would be nice to see questions answered.
  5. I am making this cake this weekend but was only able to find Hiram Walker Kirschwasser, which is not a true kirschwasser. It seems to be alcohol that is "naturally" flavored to taste like the real thing. Would it be okay to use this or would it be better to use cherry juice? Won't cherry juice make the cake much sweeter?


  1. 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.
  2. I never leave reviews but this recipe knocked my socks off and I just had to compliment the writer. I made this cake exactly as written except I made 4 9" layers because I wanted a tall cake so I doubled the cake portion. I doubled the icing recipe as directed to cover the whole cake and I had PLENTY to use on my entire 4 layer cake and then some. I cannot say it enough times this cake was AMAZING!! Full of flavor and decadence.
    • Review photo by Jennifer R.
  3. This was a great recipe. I made it for my fellow fighters and everyone loved it. I used the cherry juice in the butter cream instead of the espresso. I also used half of a box jello instant pudding vanilla for stabilizing the whip cream. I doubled the recipe and made it in 3 10 inch pans. It served 18 people. I found Fidelitas Black Forrest Kirschwasser at total wine. I also increase the baking time by 9 mins.
    • Review photo by Healingfire
  4. We were in Germany last October and I fell in love with the Black Forest Cake...and had to try to make this on my own. This cake was a hit and although it takes 3 days to make it is so worth it. I have been told that it is the best cake yet and I love to bake...trouble is....I am getting too many requests to bake it...maybe I should quit the day job and become a baker!!!
    • Review photo by noreilly
  5. Made this for my husband's Opa and it was fantastic. Only deviation i made was used 2 9" pans instead of 3 and i would have waited until the buttercream was hardened a bit before putting the top layer on. Becuase the cake was moist and the cream was soft, the cake started to fall apart along the edge and the insides seeped out a little. Nothing a bunch of delicious whip cream couldn't cover though.
    • Review photo by Dayna P.


  1. Used unsalted butter instead of shortening in cake and filling, golden rum instead of kirsch for a less sweet cake. Used only butter, powdered sugar and Cherry Bay Orchards brand 100% tart Montmorency Cherry concentrate (grocer's produce aisle) for the filling. Just nonfat milk powder and half the sugar in the whipped cream.
  2. This is the second Authentic Black Forrest cake that I have made for my son in law's birthday by special request. I discovered that in order to reduce the risk of inebriating my granddaughters, I collected all the remaining cherry/kirsch juice and boiled it down to the required 1/2 cup of liquid to drizzle on my layers. I effectively removed the alcohol while preserving the flavor of the kirsch. In addition, I substituted a recipe for a chocolate sponge cake,which is less dense. I baked it in a spring form pan and then sliced it into thirds. It turned out to be a very tender sponge which was deliciously moist and still delivered the kirsch flavors and sober granddaughters. I did flavor the whipped cream icing with a little kirsch which seemed to be enough for the adults.
  3. For mine I used my own gluten free flour blend and as it was 110°F that day and I was going to be delivering cupcakes I stabilized the whipped cream with agar powder rather than milk powder. For the cupcakes I injected the filling.
  4. If you are into healthy stuff and do not have a sweet tooth in general, I would only recommend 2 cups of sugar for the filling as I found it a bit too sweet - I did 2.5 cups sugar. Didn’t reduce it by a lot given that I only saw one other person recommending reducing the sugar. The batter was only good for 2 round 9” pans so adjust accordingly. Filling was also not enough: felt like 1.5x of what was called for in the recipe would’ve been perfect. Like the other reviewers, I highly recommend doubling the amount of icing required to allow for minimal decorations.
    • Review photo by obando.cathy
  5. I left the sponge unchanged, made a regular cherry topping for the filling and used just a regular whipped cream icing made with only powered sugar, cream and vanilla.



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