An old fashioned cake that is not actually named after the region of the Black Forest but after the special liqueur that gives it its distinct flavor: Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser. It was supposedly invented by the German confectioner Josef Keller (1887–1981) in 1915 in Bad Godesberg, which is now a suburb of Bonn about 500 km north of the Black Forest. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte was first mentioned in writing in 1934. In 1949 it took 13th place in a list of best-known German cakes, and since that time Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte has become world-renowned.

It is a beautiful cake. Like Schneewittchen (Snow White) from the brothers Grimm, “as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony wood”. I used to hate it as a kid! All that Kirschwasser! How could something look so nice and taste so awful! I do like it now but I still usually make it without alcohol for my family. 

For the Sponge Cake Pastry

  • 7 egg whites 
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup (60g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons hot water 
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar 
  • the pulp of 1/4th of a vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (120g) of all purpose flour
  • a scant 1/3 cup (35g) of potato starch (or corn starch)
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (50g) unsweetened high quality cocoa powder

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  • 1 cup (120g) of all purpose flour
  • 1/5 cup (40g) sugar 
  • the pulp of 1/4th of a vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1  egg yolk
  •  7 tablespoons (100g) unsalted, soft butter

To finish the Sponge Cake 

  • 9 tablespoons cherry juice 
  • 6 tablespoons kirsch (Kirschwasser)
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar

For the Cherry Filling

  • one 24oz. jar of pitted sour cherries or Morello cherries  
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of cherry juice 
  • 1/3 cup (60g) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon 
  • 3 tablespoons of corn or potato starch
  • 6 tablespoons kirsch (Kirschwasser)

For the Cream

  • 4 and 1/4 cups (1000ml) cream
  • 1/3 cup (60g) sugar
  • the pulp of half of a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 packs of Sahnesteif (if available) or 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of corn starch

To Finish

  • 1 bittersweet chocolate bar
  • 1 small jar of Maraschino cherries (preferably unbleached)

To make the sponge cake: Prepare a 10" cake pan (preferably a spring form with a removable bottom). Grease the pan with butter. Trace and cut out a round of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Separate the 7 eggs. Reserve one egg yolk for the shortcrust pastry. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the 7 egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly sprinkle in 1/3 cups of sugar and continue to beat until very stiff. 

Beat the 6 egg yolks together with the water until frothy. Add the 3/4 cup of sugar and the pulp of the vanilla bean. Beat until light and creamy. Combine the flour, starch, baking powder, and cocoa. Sift the dry ingredients into the egg yolk batter. Combine well. Add the egg whites and carefully fold everything together. Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan. Tap on the counter to level it out and bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack. 

When the sponge cake is finished, invert it onto a rack to cool. Remove the cake pan and the parchment disk by brushing it with a little water if necessary. Let cool completely.

To make the shortcrust pastry: Cut the butter into small pieces. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface. Form a mount and sprinkle the butter pieces all around. Press an indentation into the flour and place the egg yolk, sugar, scraping of the vanilla bean and salt into it. Start to incorporate the dough from the center, stirring flour into the egg yolk until it won’t flow away, then quickly kneed all of the ingredients into a smooth dough. Wrap in foil and chill for 30 minutes.    

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover your work surface with a piece of parchment paper and roll out the dough so that it is just slightly larger than your cake pan. Set the bottom of the cake pan on top of the rolled out dough. Cut around with a knife and remove the access of the dough. Slide the parchment sheet onto a sheet pan. Prick with a fork all over. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool on a rack.


After the sponge cake has cooled completely, use a very sharp knife to cut it into 3 tiers. 


Prepare the cherry filling: Drain the cherries. In a saucepan, combine the cherry juice together with the cinnamon and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Stir the corn starch into a little bit of cold cherry juice and then whisk it into the simmering cherry juice mixture. Reserve about 5 tablespoons of the thickened cherry juice mixture, set aside. Pour the drained cherries into the remaining thickened juice mixture and carefully combine. Add the 6 tablespoons of Kirsch. Immediately remove from the heat.

Assembling the cake: Whip the heavy cream together with the sugar, vanilla bean pulp and Sahnesteif (if available). Otherwise you can substitute 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Sometimes more Kirsch is added to the whipped cream (if you choose to do this you should add it at the very end and only briefly combine on the lowest setting). I prefer not to. 

Place the shortcrust pastry onto a cake platter. Spread the reserved thickened cherrie juice mixture onto the shortcrust pastry. Place one of the sponge cake layers on top of it. Combine 9 tablespoons of cherry juice with 6 tablespoons of Kirsch and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the cherry juice and Kirsch mixture all over the first sponge cake layer. Spread the cherry mixture all over the first cake layer while still warm. Add the next sponge cake layer. Sprinkle with another 6 tablespoons of the cherry juice and Kirsch mixture. Spread some of the cream all over the 2nd sponge cake tier. Add the third tier. Sprinkle with the remainder of the cherry juice and cherry brandy mixture. 

Spread the cream over the entire cake. Reserve some cream for the piped on border. Smoothen evenly. Use a very sharp knife to create shavings of the bitter-sweet chocolate bar. Use a fork to scatter the chocolate shavings all over the top of the cake - leaving a 1.5" border around the perimeter. Try not to touch the chocolate shavings, they don’t like warm hands. Pipe even rosettes around the perimeter of the cake and decorate with Maraschino cherries. Chill for at least 6 hours before serving.

Für Anna und Emily zum 11. Geburtstag


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