Black forest cake originated in southern Germany in the early 20th century. Traditionally, it was enjoyed in the summer, probably because the tender Schmidt cherries used in the recipe ripen in July. In fact the area of the Black Forest is also known for its cherry brandy or kirschwasser, that was originally used instead of cherry schnapps.
A black forest cake is usually comprised of four chocolate layers of cake with white cake frosting in between each. It is essentially a whipped cream style frosting, used on both the inside and outside of the cake. It’s then decorated with dark chocolate shavings, frosting decorations and cherries. (Fresh is really best if you have them). You’ll also typically use cherry pie filling. Cherry schnapps is sometimes used to flavor the whipped cream frosting, and brushed into each cake layer to keep it moist. Some cooks will use a cream cheese frosting recipe rather than a whipped cream base. We like the fluffiness of the whipped cream in contrast with the dark cake better, but either is delicious.
The easiest part of making a black forest cake is the frosting recipe. It’s a flexible recipe so some substitutions aren’t a problem.
The key to frosting this cake successfully is to cool each cake layer complete and then refrigerate for an hour wrapped in plastic. This will help minimize unwanted “crumbiness” in your frosting. The cake should also be refrigerated two hours before serving so that the light whipped cream frosting has a chance to set in place.
Easy Black Forest Cake Frosting Recipe
3 1/4 c heavy cream
3/4 c milk
2/3 c confectioner’s sugar
2 t vanilla sugar*
2 dozen brandy-soaked cherries (non-brandy-soaked is also fine)
3 c chocolate shavings
Whip together cream, milk, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla sugar until fluffy. Cover each layer of a three layer cake with 1/4 of the cream and a dozen cherries. Cover the sides of the cake with remaining cream. Decorate entire cake with chocolate shavings.
*optional but tasty. Visit Baking Bites to see how it’s made.