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German Black Forest Cake

As far as I know, this cake recipe can be traced back to my German great-grandma. When I got married, my mother gave me a copy and I hope to someday pass it down to my children. —Stephanie Travis, Fallon, Nevada
  • Total Time
    Prep: 45 min. + cooling Bake: 30 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    12 servings


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) pitted tart cherries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cherry brandy or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of two greased 9-in. round baking pans; grease paper.
  • In a large bowl, beat milk, eggs, oil and vanilla until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into milk mixture.
  • Transfer to prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks; remove paper. Cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, for filling, drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. In a small saucepan, whisk sugar, cornstarch and reserved juice; add cherries. Cook and stir over low heat 10-12 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in brandy. Cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners' sugar; beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Top with 1-1/2 cups whipped cream. Spread 3/4 cup filling to within 1 in. of edge. Repeat twice. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining whipped cream, reserving some to pipe decorations, if desired. Spoon remaining filling onto top of cake. Refrigerate until serving.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 659 calories, 34g fat (15g saturated fat), 136mg cholesterol, 329mg sodium, 84g carbohydrate (59g sugars, 2g fiber), 7g protein.

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  • Teresa
    Mar 7, 2021

    Michael, I believe that she meant this particular recipe, not German Black Forrest in general.....

  • Lori
    Jan 14, 2020

    I was a little nervous about the cherry filling not being thick enough so I did add a third a cup corn starch and cooked it a little longer and it thickened up really nice I also stabilize the whip cream by adding a package of gelatin and 2 tablespoons of water after heating it up for about 20 seconds and pouring it into the whip cream to stabilize it to hold it shape the it was very moist and everybody loved it! It’s a keeper!

  • Kirk
    Dec 30, 2019

    **Converted to Gluten-Free by the simple expedient of using King Arthur GF Flour** Simple, yet amazing flavors. This is a hit for the holidays!

  • Michael
    Oct 17, 2018

    This is just an FYI comment. American baker named Samuel German of the baker's chocolate company developed Baker's German's sweet chocolate. The recipe for German chocolate cake was written by Mrs George Clay and appeared in the Dallas morning news, June 3 1957.

  • mtuttle
    Apr 15, 2018

    After having travelled in Bavaria, I have always wanted to make this cake. The bakery version I had enjoyed was fabulous. I followed this recipe except for this: I added 1/3 cup cornstarch to the cherry filling instead of the 1/4. I added a bit of almond flavoring to the cherries as well. I did NOT use any liquor; I know it is "traditional," but for me, its strong taste overwhelms the other flavors. I also added a packet of vanilla sugar and vanilla extract to the whipping cream, and three packets of Dr. Oecker's Sahnesteif to stabilize it. Very German!

  • writeme_3
    Sep 27, 2017

    I haven't made THIS recipe, but when I do make a similar version I try to make it "more German" by adding cherry brandy or kirsch to the cherries!

  • sntwistr
    Dec 22, 2016

    This sounds delicious however, try this next time. Use a boxed mix such as Duncan Hines chocolate fudge or deep fudge, not devils food. When making cake, cut back on oil. Use about 2-3 Tbsp. This makes a sturdier cake. Use canned cherry pie filling, with a bit of almond flavor mixed in. Follow guide lines in cake recipe regarding assembly. After frosting with whipped cream, decorate with lightly toasted almonds that have been cooled . This will cut some time from the process

  • awabbit
    Sep 27, 2015

    Great recipe! My whole family enjoyed. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • 262ladylike
    Apr 12, 2015

    I have been baking for over 30 years and have never had this much trouble with a recipe. I didn't use the wax paper on the bottom of pans, but I did grease and flour them. I made it in three 8" pans. All three cakes stuck in the pans, breaking and making a mess to get them out. I only used 1 can of tart cherries and reduced the other filling ingredients accordingly. The cherry mixture was way too runny even after refrigerating it overnight. I had to cook it again and add extra cornstarch to thicken. The whipping cream needed more powered sugar; it wasn't very sweet. After all these adjustments, it tasted good. If I were to make it again, I would probably use cherry pie filling and definitely use wax paper to line the pans.

  • paul3303
    Mar 6, 2014

    Delicious cake! I used Rich's whipped topping instead of whipped cream for increased stability.