Germany // Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte // Black Forest Cake

Let's get Germany rolling with an embarassing story, shall we?

When we were young, starry-eyed newly weds meandering our way through a European spring, we found ourselves in a small, very old village in the southern part of the Alsace region of France.  We were staying in a basement apartment and made friends with our landlords, a very friendly, kindly older couple who spent their days visiting grandchildren, tinkering in le jardin, and baking amazing breads and cakes.  I'll call them Monsieur and Madame E.

One Sunday afternoon, we woke up from an after-church nap to a note from the E's on our door inviting us up for tea.  We happily accepted, and spent a jolly hour trying to make conversation with their quasi-conversational English, our terrible French, and this fabulous cake.  After many copious thanks, and a request for the cake recipe we went back to our cozy little basement, and that was when I realized that I had only one earring in.

It wouldn't have really mattered if they were tiny little studs.  But no, these were dangly earrings that sparkled and were definitely eye-catching.  Or at least, the one I was wearing was.  The only thing I could figure out was that I had taken the first one out while collapsing into bed (we'd spent most of the night before in a train station, due to mis-calculating train schedules.) and hadn't gotten the second out before falling asleep.  I still wonder if they thought I was just a weird American, or simply had no taste or sense of style.  Or maybe they didn't notice.  Let's go with that.

Eventually, when I sufficiently got over my embarrassment enough to answer the door again, Madame brought me the requested recipe for the requested cake, assuring me that even though it was written in French, it was tres Allemande, and exactly like the cakes made in the Black Forest, which wasn't really too far away.

I believe her, but that didn't help make the recipe.  My French still isn't quit good enough to just read a recipe without the help of a translator.  So Google Translate, my shiny new kitchen scale and I got to work, weighing and measuring, then measuring and weighing to not only translate it into English, but also into standard American measurements.   I also had to make some substitutions, because American grocers haven't started stocking things like creme fraiche (get on it, please?) and kirsche soaked cherries aren't easy to find either.  But I think the translations and tweaks all worked out well, and give you a very authentique cake.

Just hang on to your earrings for a more enjoyable tea time.

Black Forest Cake

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp. hot water
  • 250 grams sugar (1 1/4 C.)
  • 8 egg whites
  • 250 grams all purpose flour (2 scant cups)
  • 100 grams almond flour (1 cup)
  • 40 grams cocoa (6 Tbsp.)
  • 6 grams baking powder (1 1/2 tsp.)
  • 4 grams salt (1 tsp.)


  • 50 grams powder sugar (50 grams)
  • 500 grams whipping cream 
  • 100 grams sour cream (heaping 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 cup frozen dark cherries, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp. Kirsh or Amaretto
  • Grated chocolate for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans.

Beat the egg yolks with the hot water, then add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating until the yolks are light yellow.  Combine the flour, almond flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Carefully stir the dry ingredients into the egg yolk mixture and set aside.

In another clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and carefully fold them into the batter.  Divide the batter between the the two pans and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the center of the cakes spring back when gently tapped.  Turn out onto a cooling rack and let sit until completely cool.

In a clean bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form, then add in cream of tartar and powder sugar and beat until stiff peaks, then fold in the sour cream.  Divide evenly into two bowls.  Chop up thawed cherries (reserve some for decorating) and stir into whipping cream.

Slice cooled cakes in half horizontally and brush alcohol over the tops of each one.  Spread one third of the whipped cream with cherries over the bottom layer, then place another cake on top. Repeat with the remaining cherry cream and layers.

Once all of the layers have been stacked, frost it with the plain whipped cream.  Sprinkle with grated chocolate and garnish with reserved cherries.  Serve chilled.  This cake keeps for 3-4 days, and is best on the second.

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