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A black forest cake on a marble platter.

Black Forest Cake

The best Black Forest Cake doesn't come from a box or a bakery; it comes from your kitchen once you have this chocolate cake recipe in your arsenal. I'll walk you through how to make layer cake that will have everyone swooning over the rich chocolate, cherry, and cream flavors.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, German
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 14 slices
Calories 707kcal


For the cake layers:

For the cherry filling/syrup:

  • 4 cups (or 1 pound) bing cherries pitted and roughly chopped (see note 2)
  • 12 whole bing cherries to top the cake
  • 3 tablespoons kirsch (a cherry liqueur, see note 3)
  • 1/4 cup cold water

For the frosting:


To make the cake layers:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of two 9" round cake pans with parchment. Do not grease the sides of the pans. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  • In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, beat eggs on high for 1 minute. With the motor running, gradually add 1 cup sugar and continue beating on high speed a full 8 minutes. The mixture will be thick and fluffy.
  • Using a spatula, add the dry ingredients in 3 batches by hand, mixing just until no streaks remain. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix and deflate the batter.
  • Gently fold in butter and vanilla in a steady stream, folding and scraping as you pour to keep butter from pooling at the bottom. Fold until just incorporated. Once butter is added, the cake must be baked right away or the batter will deflate. 
  • Divide batter equally between two prepared cake pans and bake immediately for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
  • Let cool in pans for 10-15 minutes, then run a thin-edged knife around edges to loosen cake. Invert layers onto a wire rack and remove parchment paper. When cakes cool completely and you're ready to assemble the cake, slice each layer in half horizontally with a long serrated knife. 

To make the syrup:

  • Place chopped cherries in a medium bowl with 3 tablespoons kirsch. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Using a sieve, drain cherries and reserve both cherries and syrup. Add 1/4 cup cold water to the syrup (you should have roughly 1/3 cup of syrup).

To make the frosting:

  • For best results, freeze the mixing bowl and whisk attachment 15 minutes prior to using. Beat heavy cream with whisk attachment on high speed until soft peaks form, then add powdered sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon kirsch and beat on high until stiff and spreadable, 1-2 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the cake:

  • Place first layer on a cake stand and brush with 1/4 of the syrup. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over the top of first layer, then top with 1/3 of the chopped cherries. Repeat with the remaining layers, using the flattest layer to top the cake. 
  • Transfer 1 1/2 cups frosting to a pastry bag with a large flower tip and refrigerate until ready to use (try not to handle the bag too much or the cream will soften). Fill the cracks along the sides of cake with frosting then frost the top and sides with remaining frosting.
  • Cover sides and top of cake with chocolate shavings leaving a 1" perimeter on top for piping frosting. Pipe rounds of frosting around the top of the cake and place a whole cherry over each one. Refrigerate cake for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.



  1. Unsweetened cocoa powder: Natural or Dutch-processed. Dutch-processed cocoa offers a darker color and a bit richer flavor, but either tastes incredible in this layer cake recipe.
  2. Bing cherries: Bing cherries are large, heart-shaped sweet cherries that have dark maroon and dark purple flesh. Their sweet flavor, ample availability in many areas, and easy-to-remove pit makes this cherry variety ideal for baking and cooking. I adore the fresh pop of flavor Bing cherries add to this homemade Black Forest Cake, but feel free to swap in pitted and stemmed jarred Bing cherries if you can’t find fresh.
  3. Kirsch: Kirschwasser, or kirsch, is a clear, cherry-flavored distilled spirit from Germany. It’s the key ingredient in the Black Forest Cake syrup, and infuses extra fruit flavor and moistness into each and every bite. If you can’t find kirsch, swap in cherry brandy, rum, cognac, or Luxardo brand maraschino liqueur. For an alcohol-free option, try cherry juice instead.
  4. Yield: I usually get 14 generous, 4-layer servings our of one Black Forest Cake, but feel free to slice slimmer or thicker slices, as desired.
  5. Storage: This cake is best enjoyed the day it’s made. Refrigerate any leftovers and enjoy within 2 to 3 days. The whipped cream doesn’t have the stabilizers that store-bought frosting or buttercream does. This homemade Black Forest Cake will taste so much better than a version you make from a boxed cake mix and shelf-stable frosting, but it won’t have as long of a shelf life.
  6. Make ahead: My best Black Forest Cake recipe is designed to be a make-ahead cake; chill for at least 4 hours and ideally overnight before serving.
  7. Freezer: A whole, fully-decorated Black Forest Cake does not freeze well, but feel free to bake the individual sponge cake layers in advance. Allow them to cool on a wire rack, then wrap them in a two-ply layer of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 707kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 196mg | Sodium: 78mg | Potassium: 275mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 58g | Vitamin A: 3585IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 5mg