It’s dessert time with this impressive Black Forest Cake recipe. It’s a light chocolate sponge cake brushed with cherry liqueur syrup, layered with vanilla cream and boozy cherries, and finished with more cream, cherries and chocolate. At first glance the method looks difficult but it really isn’t, I promise. There’s just lots of parts to assemble and it does take time. If you can, start the day or night before, especially for the cherries. Once the cake is assembled it ideally needs another few hours in the fridge before serving, so allow plenty of time to complete the cake.


Serves 8-12          Difficulty: Intermediate. Several layers to make


·      18 cm (7 in) springform cake tin

·      Medium saucepan

·      Small saucepan

·      Slotted spoon

·      Stand mixer / electric mixer

·      Sieve

·      Spatula

·      Oven thermometer

·      Kitchen scales

·      Kitchen timer

·      Piping bag with star nozzle (optional)


Brandy Cherries

·      700g (1.5 lb) jar of pitted Morello Cherries

·      25g (0.9 oz) Caster Sugar

·      60ml (2 fl oz ) Kirsch, Cognac or Cherry brandy liqueur (plus 60ml extra for the cake assembly)

Chocolate Genoise Cake

·      110g (3.9 oz) quality Dark Chocolate, finely chopped

·      115ml (4 fl oz) boiling Water

·      4 large Eggs

·      100g (3.4 oz) Caster Sugar

·      50g (1.8 oz) Plain Flour

·      25g (0.9 oz) Cornflour

Whipped Cream Filling

·      600ml (21 oz) Pure Cream

·      2 teaspoons Gelatin Powder

·      8 teaspoons Water

·      2 tablespoons Caster Sugar

·      1 teaspoon vanilla extract


·      Chocolate shavings or chocolate flakes


Brandy Cherries (6-12 hours to soak)

  • Drain the cherries over a bowl. Keep aside ½ cup of the drained cherry syrup. Keep the cherry jar.
  • Add the remaining cherry syrup and sugar to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the drained cherries and simmer with the lid on for 1 minute. Remove the cherries from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and return them to their empty jar. Pour the liqueur over the cherries.
  • Keep the syrup boiling until it has reduced to ¼ cup of liquid. Pour the syrup over the cherries, add the lid, and swirl the contents.
  • Loosen the lid and place the cherry jar in the fridge to cool for 6-12 hours.

Chocolate Genoise Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 fan-forced; 350F). Line the base and sides of the springform pan with baking paper. Spray the paper with non-stick spray
  • Add the chopped chocolate and boiling water to a small saucepan. Stir continuously on low heat, bringing it to a gentle boil. Keep stirring constantly for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens to a soft custard. It should look like a chocolate dipping sauce and fall off the spoon when ready. Allow it to cool completely.
  • To the bowl of the electric mixer add the eggs and sugar. Beat together on high speed with the whisk attachment until the volume has tripled.
  • Lay a sheet of baking paper on your bench. Sift the plain flour and corn flour onto the sheet twice. Sift the combined flour a third time over the whipped egg mixture.
  • Gently but quickly fold the flour into the mixture until it’s all combined. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture until evenly distributed. Pour the cake batter into the greased springform tin.
  • Check the oven is at the correct temperature. Set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes. Place the tin on the middle rack in the oven. Do not open the oven door or touch the cake until it’s nearly done. The cake batter will rise near the top of the pan while baking, then shrink down and away from the sides of the pan. The cake is ready when the sides have shrunk away from the pan.
  • Remove cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the cake from the sides gently with a knife and invert it carefully onto a cooling rack lined with baking paper. Let the cake cool right side up.

Whipped Cream Filling

  • Place your electric mixer bowl into the fridge for chill for about 15 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl dissolve the gelatin crystals with the water. Place the gelatin mix over a bowl of simmering water to dissolve the crystals completely. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  • Remove the chilled electric mixer bowl from the fridge. Add the cream and sugar and whisk them together until the beater begins to leave its patter in the mix. Keep the beaters running and slowly add the cooled gelatin mix in a constant stream. Add the vanilla. Beat together until stiff peaks form.
  • Keep the cream in the fridge until assembling the cake.

Cake Assembly

  • Add ¼ cup of extra liqueur to the ½ cup of reserved cherry syrup.
  • Carefully cut the chocolate sponge cake in half horizontally. Place the top half of the cake on your serving place with the crumb side up. Pour half of the cherry liquid over the cake evenly.
  • Spread half of the whipped cream on the cake layer. Place the soaked cherries evenly through the cream layer right to the edges. Set aside 8-12 cherries to decorate the top. Ensure the cream layer is level.
  • To the other half of the cake, pour most of the remaining cherry syrup evenly on the crumb side. Place the crumb side down on the cream and cherry layer. Brush the top of the cake with the last of the syrup.
  • Spread the remaining half of the whipped cream on the top of the cake. Pipe 8-12 cream rosettes around the top. Carefully cover the assembled cake with aluminium foil and place in the fridge for another 4 hours.

Serving the Cake

  • Remove the cake from the fridge just before you’re ready to serve it. Uncover the foil. Place a cherry in the middle of each piped cream rosette. Sprinkle chocolate shavings or flake in the middle of the cake. Serve chilled.

Recipe adapted from The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum



  • Keeping the cherries in the fridge for 6-12 hours maximizes the amount of alcohol and flavour they absorb. The full 12 hours is best. If you’re in a rush and can’t soak them the chilled cherries will be ok to use, but the flavour won’t be as intense.
  • When baking a genoise cake do not disturb or open the oven door until the cake is almost done. The cake structure is fragile in the early stages and it might collapse.
  • This cake is best eaten the day it’s made. Leftover can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 24 hours.
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