A traditional Black Forest cake has three layers of chocolate genoise, a European style of cake that is like a dry sponge cake. The cake layers are brushed with a liqueur-infused syrup and a tart cherry filling also helps moisten them. The cake is then decorated with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and glazed cherries. Tart (morello) cherries are the traditional cherry for Black Forest cake and are sold fresh, frozen, and canned. If you can’t find tart cherries or find them too tart, sweet cherries will work fine.
Summary: A traditional 3 layer genoise
- 3/4 cup sifted cake flour
- 1/3 cup sifted Dutch-process cocoa
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 5 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- In the small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda 3 times to completely remove any lumps.
- Fill the saucepan with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer.
- In the mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and yolks with the sugar, just enough to blend.
- Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir the egg mixture slowly until the color turns deep gold and the sugar is completely melted, about 3 to 5 minutes. The temperature of the mixture should be between 110° and 120° F.
- Remove the mixing bowl and wipe the bottom dry.
- Using the wire whisk attachment, whip the egg mixture on medium high until it triples in volume and is light colored, about 4 to 5 minutes. If you run your finger through the mixture, it should leave a indentation.
- Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the vanilla.
- Whip to stabilize the eggs at medium speed for about 2 to 3 minutes. Take care not to mix too long or fast or it will deflate.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer.
- Pour the flour and cocoa mixture into the mesh strainer and sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons over the egg mixture.
- Use the rubber spatula to fold it in, reaching all the way to the bottom of the bowl, about 10 to 12 times.
- Continue adding the flour mixture a little at a time until all the flour is folded in.
- In the medium bowl, fold about 1/2 cup of the batter with the melted butter until the butter is completely suspended in the mixture and doesn’t separate.
- Quickly fold that mixture back into the batter and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
- Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles and put it in the oven. (Speed is important because the heat of the butter will activate the baking soda and you want to get it in the oven fast.)
- Bake in the preheated oven until the cake is springy and completely pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 35 to 40 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to stand in the pan for 10 minutes.
- Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, then release the cake onto a wire rack coated with nonstick spray.
- Remove the parchment paper and let the cake cool completely.
- Wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and store in a plastic zipper bag.
- Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Number of servings (yield): 12
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons kirschwasser, or 1 teaspoon cherry extract
- While the cake bakes, combine water and sugar in small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When mixture is boiling and sugar has totally dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the kirschwasser.
- Allow to cool about 5 minutes. You can make this up to 3 days ahead and store it in the refrigerator. If chilled, warm it before using again.
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Make sure the bowl and the wire whisk attachment are both well chilled.
- Whip the cream until it starts to thicken, then add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.
- Continue whipping until the mixture forms soft peaks, then whip for about 1 more minute. The cream should stand with tall peaks. Don’t whip for too long or the cream will curdle. Use immediately.
Putting it All Together
- Use the serrated knife or cake divider to cut the cake into 3 equal layers. Place the bottom layer cut side up on the serving plate and brush with the warm sugar syrup. Add 1/2 cup of the whipped cream to the pastry bag and pipe around the edge of the cake.
- Spoon half of the cherry filling onto the cake, spreading it all the way to the edge. Smooth the cherries with the spatula.
- Add the middle layer of cake and repeat with the syrup, whipped cream, and remaining cherries.
- Lay the top layer of cake cut side up on a board and brush the cut side with the syrup. Gently, carefully, lift the moistened cake and place it cut side down on the cake. Frost the top and sides with a thin crumb layer of the whipped cream, then cover with a thicker coat, reserving 1 cup of the whipped cream for decorating.
- Run the cake comb around the sides. Pipe stars or rosettes around the top edge of the cake and then around the bottom edge. Place the cherries around the top edge of the cake, evenly spaced. Sprinkled the shaved chocolate on top.
- Chill the cake uncovered for at least 3 to 4 hours, then remove from from the refrigerator 30 minutes (in warm weather) or 60 minutes (cold weather) before serving.
- The cherry layers may be a little slippery when cutting and some cherries may fall out when you transfer the slices to plates, and that’s okay. Use a thin serrated knife and wipe it clean between cuts. To remove the pieces neatly, cut two slices then remove the first.
small bowl stand mixer with wire whisk attachment, or hand mixer and large bowl saucepan with a shape that will hold the mixer bowl 2 inches above the pan bottom
fine mesh strainer
10″ x 2″ cake pan, generously buttered, lined with parchment, and floured
wire cooling rack, coated with cooking spray
thin serrated knife or cake divider
cake stand or serving plate
pastry brush large pastry bag or plastic freezer bag with one corner cut off
large star tip and plastic coupler