The German Cookbook | Black Forest Cake

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Who knew that the Black Forest Cake originally came from Baden-Württemberg? Here’s the recipe for an authentic version of a café favourite from The German Cookbook, a comprehensive collection of German food researched and compiled by Michelin-starred chef Alfons Schuhbeck published by Phaidon. 

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Cooling time: 3 hours

Serves: 16


For the sponge layers:
Butter, for greasing
Flour, for dusting
6 eggs
150g sugar

120g plain (all-purpose) flour
40g cocoa powder 

For the cherries:
500g sour cherries (from a jar)
1 teaspoon icing sugar
180ml red wine
70ml port
1 tablespoon cornflour (corn starch)
3 tablespoons caster sugar
A pinch of ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
½ grated unwaxed orange zest
1 teaspoon honey 

For the cream:
4 tablespoons of gelatine powder or 3 sheets of gelatine
800ml double (heavy) cream
80g sugar
8 tablespoons kirsch
4 tablespoons chocolate shavings


1. Grease a 26-cm (101⁄4-inch) springform pan and dust with flour. Preheat the oven to 175C/345F/Gas Mark 3 and 3⁄4.

2. For the sponge layers: Separate the eggs into two bowls. Beat the egg yolks with 1–2 tablespoons sugar until thick and pale. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt and the remaining sugar to soft peaks. Sift the flour and cocoa and fold in, alternating with the egg whites and yolks. Pour into the pan and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

3. For the cherries: Drain the cherries and reserve 250ml (1 cup/8 fl oz) of liquid. Caramelise the icing (confectioners’) sugar in a pan, then deglaze with the wine and port and reduce by half. Dissolve the cornflour in a little cherry liquid. Add the sugar, spices and zest, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, stir in the cornflour and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the cherries and adjust the sweetness with honey. Let cool, then set aside 16 cherries. Cut the cake crosswise into three equal layers. Soak the bottom layer with 2 tablespoons of kirsch. Top with half the cherries.

4. For the cream: Soften the gelatine in water. Whip the cream with the sugar to stiff peaks. Heat 4 tbsp of kirsch in a pan. Squeeze the gelatine well, dissolve in the kirsch, then incorporate into the cream.

5. Spread a quarter of the cream over the cherries. Top with the second sponge, soak with kirsch, add the cherries and spread with cream. Cover with the last layer of sponge. Put the cream in a piping bag with a star tip. Cover with cream and mark out 16 sections. Decorate each section with cream, topped with a cherry and chocolate shavings in the middle. Chill for 1 hour.

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The German CookbookThe German Cookbook by Alfons Schuhbeck is the only comprehensive collection of German recipes, from authentic traditional dishes to contemporary cuisine. It is a hardback book of over 440 pages, published by Phaidon and can be bought from their online shop below at €39.95.


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