Layers of cream, poached cherries and rich dark chocolate make this traditional German Black Forest cake an utterly delicious, indulgent and show-stopping creation. This decadent cake tastes every bit as incredible as it looks and is guaranteed to impress even the toughest of critics. This knock-out classic may look complex, but you can learn to make it with this straightforward recipe.
- 2.8 ounces / 80 grams unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup superfine (caster) sugar
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup plain flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup superfine (caster) sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 pound / 450 grams fresh or frozen pitted cherries, plus extra for decorating
- 6 tablespoons Kirsch liqueur, optional
- 10.2 fluid ounces / 300 milliliters heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered (icing) sugar, plus extra for decorating
- 3.5 ounces / 100 grams dark chocolate, chopped, plus extra for decorating
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Baking is a science, so carefully measure out all of your ingredients beforehand for the best results.
Heat the oven to 335 F / 170 C. Grease and line two 7-inch / 18-centimeter round cake tins and set aside.
- Alternatively, you can use a 2-by-7-inch / 18-centimeter cake tin and slice the cake in half before assembly.
In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt together the butter and vanilla extract. Set this mixture aside to cool.
Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl. With an electric hand mixer, whisk them together on a low speed to just combine.
Set the egg mixture over a pan half-filled with boiling water. Continue to whisk on low speed for 3 minutes, and then increase the speed to medium and whisk the mixture until it is pale and tripled in volume.
Remove the bowl from above the hot water, and continue to whisk until the mixture has cooled to room temperature — about 3 to 4 minutes. The mixture will be thick and leave a ribbon trail when the beaters are lifted out of the bowl.
Pour the melted butter down the sides of the bowl, and gently fold it in. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and gently fold the batter again until the flour is just incorporated.
Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins, and bake in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until the cake rises and springs back when gently pressed in the center. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins before inverting onto a wire rack.
While the cakes are cooling, make the poached cherries. Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan set over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the Kirsch liqueur and cherries, and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cherries have absorbed some of the syrup and are puffed and tender. Strain the cherries and the syrup into two separate bowls, and set both aside to cool.
To make the chocolate ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute before gently stirring to combine.
For the cream filling, add the cream and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk until the cream begins to just hold its shape.
To assemble the cake, place the first cake layer on a plate or stand and brush it generously with cherry syrup.
Generously spoon 3 tablespoons of the cream on top the first cake layer, leaving a slight border around the edge. Arrange the poached cherries on top of the cream.
Add the second cake layer. Brush again with cherry syrup, and then pile on the cream and extra cherries.
Finish the cake by pouring on the chocolate ganache, adding a generous dusting of powdered sugar and sprinkling with extra shaved chocolate.
Chill the cake for 1 hour to make it easier to slice, taking it out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before you plan on serving it.