> Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake)
icon Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte
(Black Forest Cake)

The confectioner Josef Keller claimed to have invented Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in 1915 at Café Agner in Bad Godesberg near Bonn. Obviously, Bonn is not anywhere near the Black Forest region, which threatens significantly the credibility of this theory. In fact, in its most basic form, the combination of cherries, cream and Kirschwasser had existed in the Black Forest region for much longer.

A typical Black Forest Cake contains several layers of chocolate cake alternating with layers of whipped cream and cherries, generously laced with Kirschwasser or Rum, topped with additional whipped cream, chocolate shavings and cherries.

Kirschwasser is a clear brandy made from morello cherries (dark sour cherries). It is not the same as "cherry liqueurs" or so-called “cherry brandies”. Unlike cherry lequeurs, Kirschwasser contains about 40-50% alcohol. It is not sweet but has a refined taste with subtle flavors of cherry with a hint of bitter almond. It belongs into the broader family of "eaux de vie", clear fruit brandies made from distilled, fermented fruit: apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, grapes, cherries, raspberries, blackberries. The French, Swiss, Germans, Austrians, Italians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Serbs, Bosnians and Croatians have developed numerous ways of transforming just about any common fruit into booze.

For 1 Kirschtorte base:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 shots Kirschwasser
For the filling:
  • 1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling, chilled
  • 1 shot Kirschwasser
For the frosting:
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 12 maraschino cherries


  1. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, flour, milk, baking soda, cocoa, red food coloring, and vanilla. Blend on low, scraping constantly. Beat 3 minutes on high speed. Pour into two 9 inch round cake pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350deg for 30-35 minutes. Cool thoroughly.
  2. Whip heavy cream with confectioner's sugar.
  3. Slice each cake round horizontally to make four layers. Place one layer on flat plate. Fill pastry bag with whipped cream and pipe a generous ring around edge of cake layer. Fill exposed ring of cake with cherry pie filling. Place third layer on top, and frost entire cake with whipped cream. Crumble the fourth layer into fine crumbs and sprinkle on sides of cake.
  4. Using whipped cream, pipe 12 rosettes on top of cake and top each with a maraschino cherry.
  5. Garnish the center top of cake with the rest of the chocolate crumbs.


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Last updated: October 12, 2010
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.