Black Forest gâteau

Black Forest gâteau

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(38 ratings)

Cook: 40 mins Prep 1 hr plus cooling


Serves 8 - 10
Impress your guests with this chocolate cherry layered cream cake - a revamped version of a retro classic

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving (10)

  • kcal859
  • fat48.9g
  • saturates29.9g
  • carbs93.7g
  • sugars73.6g
  • fibre2.6g
  • protein7.2g
  • salt0.7g
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  • 175g salted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g bar dark chocolate
  • 300g plain flour
  • 375g golden caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

  • 2 medium egg
  • 200g buttermilk or natural yoghurt

To assemble

  • 425g can pitted cherry, 2 tbsp juice reserved, rest drained



    One of the delights of the summer, cherries are much loved for their succulent texture, flavour…

  • 100g morello cherry jam



    One of the delights of the summer, cherries are much loved for their succulent texture, flavour…

  • 4 tbsp kirsch (or more juice from a can if you want it to be non-alcoholic)



    Produced in mainly in Germany, but also in Switzerland and the Alsace region of France, Kirsch…

  • 500ml tub double cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 small punnet fresh cherries (optional)



    One of the delights of the summer, cherries are much loved for their succulent texture, flavour…


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base of 3 x 20cm cake tins. Boil the kettle. Put the butter and 75g chocolate broken into chunks in a small pan and gently heat, stirring, until completely melted.

  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda with a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs and buttermilk or yogurt together. Scrape the melted chocolate mixture and egg mixture into the dry ingredients, add 100ml boiling water and whizz briefly with an electric whisk until the cake batter is lump free.

  3. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 25 mins, swapping the tins round after 20 mins if they’re on different shelves. To test they're done, push in a skewer and check that it comes out clean.

  4. Prick the cakes a few times with a skewer. Mix together the 2 tbsp reserved cherry juice and the kirsch (or more juice) and drizzle over the cakes. Cool the cakes.

  5. Mix together the remaining drained cherries and jam. Tip 200ml of the cream into a small pan and heat until just below simmering point. Chop the remaining chocolate and put in a heatproof bowl, pour over the hot cream and stir until melted. Set aside until spreadable.

  6. When the cakes are cool whisk the remaining cream and the icing sugar together until softly whipped. Spread over two of the cakes, then spoon over the jammy cherries. Stack the cakes together. Spread the chocolate cream over the third cake and sit on top of the other cakes. Pile the fresh cherries in and around the cake and serve

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (66)

rhythmpiggy's picture

Worked fantastically for me. Can't understand why there are people saying it didn't rise. I actually had to slice parts off to make it flat because it rose so much. I used buttermilk not yoghurt in case that made a difference. I listened to previous reviews and halved the chocolate cream. Lovely cake! Thanks!

Torajane's picture

No problems with the cakes falling apart, will use this sponge recipie for other cakes. Definitely too much chocolates topping, and it wasn't 'cherryie' enough for my brother in law so may try adding cherry flavour next time. Other than that, I found it easy to do and I'm no expert baker!

messedupmycake's picture

Very good recipe and easy to follow.Only trouble was I completely messed things up trying to transfer to a cake stand!!Never mind try again in a few weeks.

Fi's-Kitchen's picture

Made for New Year's dinner, delicious! Made the sponges the day before and left to cool completely before removing from tins. Too much chocolate cream for the top. Would use the recipe for the sponges to create a different cake :)

Hardychef2015's picture

Many if the comments here show this recipe to be negative.
I followed it exactly and found it worked perfectly.
I just wish I was watching my ganache better as I had to use a pan of water to soften it so I could spread it!!
Fab cake tasted amazing looked very similar to the picture!!

Stevenbaking's picture

Turned out excellent! Made it as two layers and had enough cake mixture left for a little tester pot. I used a tin of cherry fruit filling which negated the need to use jam. I didn't use any kirsch or cherry juice to drizzle over the cake and it was still perfectly moist. As advised by previous reviews I also used a little more chocolate in the ganache. It looked fab and in two layers it was stable and easy to cut.

ellecee's picture

This turned out beautifully! I made the cakes the day before and left them in their pans overnight and had no trouble with them crumbling as others have mentioned. I stabilised the cream with gelatine and as there were not fresh cherries available I topped with fresh raspberries and it was delicious. Everyone loved it.

Bluemew96's picture

Made this yesterday, I expected it to be quite difficult with the whipping of cream and such, but I had an electric whisk to help. I made the recipe with blueberries instead as I don't like cherries and it was lovely. I had quite a big tin so I did two layers and baked them in the same tin at different times, which made the process a little longer. Even with having to use self raising flower as I'd just realised I'd run out of plain, the layers almost didn't rise enough to be a two layered cake. Which is why I think the recipe calls for three layers. I did most of the recipe exactly as stated, including making enough whipped cream for two layers. Once I'd finished I added some leftover ganache to the leftover cream and served it on the side. I thought the cake definitely needed it.

Overall, lovely cake, easy to do. Will be baking again!

pinkunicorn81's picture

Really good recipe. I only substituted a third of the dark chocolate for milk chocolate as we are not huge fans of dark chocolate.
I turned the cakes out onto plates and they stuck slightly, so next time I will use a cooling rack or grease proof paper.
I made the chocolate topping and left it in the fridge for a couple of hours as I was transporting the gateau and decided it would be easier to put on when I got there, although quite runny at first it was perfectly set by the time I applied it.
I got compliments all around and will definitely make again.

Liena's picture

This cake is officially award winning - got the 1st prize for it in work's bake-off.

The only deviations my cake had were: large eggs, Ready made Princess cherry filling to substitute for the jam, kirsch and pitted cherries and I used about 225g of dark chocolate for the ganache as with the suggested amount it was too pale and runny (my chocolate had 50% cocoa solids).

The cakes were a bit fragile as the other comment suggested, but leave to cool them in the cake tins and you should be fine.

Betty123456789's picture

This took me four hours and forty eight minutes, not the one hour as specified.

My "ganache" turned out like chocolate whipped cream which is an incredibly annoying thing.

The cake is too heavy or something because the cream runs down the sides with the cherries, forming a creamy mess at the bottom of the plate and making the cake look horrendous.

Tinned cherries impossible to find, had to use fresh cherries instead.

Today is my mothers birthday so I made this for her & it looks terrible because of the running cream. I'm very embarrassed but unfortunately I have no choice but to serve it because of how long it took me.

All in all, for me, it was a complete nightmare.

goosegirl123's picture

I made this some time ago. It turned out really well. I didn't add Kirsch as children were eating it too but still very good

sophiep82's picture

I've made this cake several times. The cakes need careful handling but do firm up when they've cooled. I leave them to cool in the tin and tend to make only 2 layers of sponge. I agree with others - you only need about half of the chocolate topping, although I add a thin coat of the chocolate to all layers as it stops the whipped cream seeping into the cake. I stabilise the cream with agar agar and it lasts for a good couple of days in the fridge.

sophiep82's picture

Love this cake!

sophiep82's picture

I have made this recipe several times and it's a firm favourite with my family. The cakes are very delicate when hot/warm but if you leave them to cool in the tin they do firm up (but still need gentle handling). I have started to make these with 2 instead of 3 layers of sponge which gives a slightly more manageable cake, though 3 layers looks more impressive. I agree with previous posts, you only need about half of the ganache, although I also add a thin layer of the ganache to the lower sponge layer(s) which helps to stop the whipped cream seeping into the cake below. I also stabilise the whipped cream with agar agar powder and find the cake keeps much better, not that I have to worry about leftovers very often! For anyone struggling with the cakes falling apart, make sure you let them cool fully before you try and move them anywhere, and when getting them out of the tin use clean greaseproof paper to protect to top which can get a bit sticky.

Chrisandnas's picture

Unfortunately I ignored previous comments about the cake being too soft, well, all my three cakes fell apart not only in the middle but the sides too. It was really tricky to layer with several bits falling off. I think the recipe lacks a combiner? Maybe adding more egg? I wouldn't use this recipe for a sponge again . We're calling ours a 'deconstructed Black Forest Gateau'. There was enough chocolate ganache to cover 3 cakes, recipe totally wrong, what a waste of good quality chocolate and cream however It did taste good. My son thought it was hilarious when it started to fall part once assembled.

Nw21's picture

5 stars for taste!

smc6781's picture

Made this for my boyfriends birthday and it was a big hit! I had no problem with the cakes rising, as other reviewers have mentioned. I recommend whisking the egg/buttermilk mixture well, check you your oven isn't too hot, and resist the temptation to swap the tins around on the shelves too early. Seeing the issues some people have had with making the chocolate topping, I used extra-thick double cream. I made the topping whilst the cakes were in the oven and then left it to cool with the cakes, so by the time I was ready to assemble it was a good spreadable consistency and not runny at all. Hope this helps others!

Titian39's picture

This recipe makes a really delicious cake! I followed the recipe exactly, and the sponges turned out perfect - they rose fine. A word of warning though- the cake is very large! It cuts cuts very well, though it is quite hard to cut a "small" piece! The cream and cherry filling offset the richness of the chocolate topping and the chocolate sponge very well. The cake was easier to make than I anticipated. I highly recommend this recipe.

mouse38's picture

Lovely cake - looks fantasic! I didn't use the kirsh as was serving it to family including two toddlers. The juice from the tin of cherries wasn't very cherry tasting though - so next time I will probably use the juice from some sieved frozen cherries or some cordial for extra flavour! (or just make it for adults and use the kirsh!).
I had no problem with the cakes rising and the sponge was light, though I reduced the sugar to 300g - not sure if that made a difference.
Only made half the topping and that was the perfect amount!
Got loads of compliments and the whole cake was finshed by the end of the day!


Questions (3)

candycotton's picture

I'm new to baking but not entirely useless but wondered if any of you bakers could help me with this. Just reading the instructions "scrape the melted chocolate mixture and egg mixture into the dry ingredients". Its a little vague here as I am unsure if this is the same process as folding. Can anyone confirm if this is folding? Also do yih mix the chocolate into the egg mixture first before adding to the dry mixture? Do you wait for the chocolate mixture to cool to prevent the cooking of the eggs? It as states "add boiling water" is this gradually as my fear that the eggs will cook. Can anyone help here and elaborate as some buts appear a little sketchy ... Thank you all in advance x

Larenka's picture

So if I substitute plain flour for self raising do I use same qtnys? And just not bicarbonate? Thanks :)

atim's picture

I don't have a fridge. How long can I keep the Black Forest cake at room temperature without it losing its taste? What should be the ideal taste?

Tips (1)

mrsrc5's picture

I make this every year for my birthday and it's always gorgeous! Make the sponge bases at least the day before. They will be a lot firmer and easier to handle. I use frozen cherries mixed with a good quality cherry jam for the filling. Spread the jam on the sponges and put the cream on top - a lot easier! Whip the cream until its quite firm (not softly whipped) this stops it just running out the cake. Don't spread the jam/cream right to the edge-the weight of the cake will push it out! I'm always left with too much melted chocolate-use your common sense just put enough to make a nice circle on the top of the cake, too much and it will pour over the side! Any chocolate/cream mixture left gets put into the fridge and made into truffles. Assemble it and put it into the fridge to firm up before trying to slice it, it's one of those cakes that is better the next day!