Black Forest Cake

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This fancy, delicious cake isn’t too complicated, in spite of requiring several steps.  My oldest son won a blue ribbon with it at the county fair when he was in 5th grade, and we often serve it for birthdays in our home.  Having lived in Europe for several years, I can honestly say this cake is fairly authentic, and well worth that extra little bit of time and trouble.


German chocolate cake mix (prepared according to box directions)

¼ c. sugar
1/3 c. water
1 tsp. cherry or almond extract

Butter cream filling:
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/3 c. butter
1 tsp. cherry or almond extract
1 or 2 Tbsp. reserved cherry juice (see below) or milk

A few drops red food coloring (optional)

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 cans sour cherries, drained and patted dry (reserve a few Tbsp. of the juice)
8 oz. semisweet chocolate bar, shaved (optional)


1.      Prepare cake mix according to instructions.  Pour into 3 round cake pans.  If you don’t have 3 round pans you’ll have to make this in separate batches, or have a shorter cake with less layers.

2.      While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup.  Mix the sugar and water in a small pan and bring it to a boil until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and add the extract.

3.      When the cake rounds have cooled, prick them with a fork and brush the syrup on the underside of each layer.

4.      Prepare the butter cream frosting by beating the butter and powdered sugar together until well incorporated.  Add the extract and a couple drops of red food coloring if you want the frosting to be pink (white is more traditional).  Thin the frosting with a tablespoon of either milk (for white butter cream) or the reserved juice from the drained cherries (for pink butter cream).  Add additional liquid or powdered sugar as necessary to make a thick butter cream frosting.

5.      Assemble the cake:  place one layer (syrup side facing up) on a cake platter.  Frost with ½ of the butter cream icing.  Add 1/3 of the sour cherries (make sure you have drained them well and they are patted dry).  Add the second cake layer, topping it with the remaining frosting and 1/3 of the cherries, as before.  Place the third cake layer on top, syrup side down.

6.      Beat the whipping cream until it is fluffy, adding the powdered sugar as you go.  Once the whipped cream is ready, use it to frost the entire cake.

*Note: if you are making this cake ahead of time, stop after step 5 and refrigerate the unfinished cake.  The whipping cream will begin to weep over time, and this step should be saved until shortly before you are ready to serve the cake.

7.      Decorate the frosted cake with the remaining sour cherries.  Sprinkle with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Helpful tips:

  • Make sure cherries are well placed around the edges of each layer as well as in the middle so the cake doesn’t “sag” on one side.
  • Be sure to use sour cherries, not sweet ones.  They make ALL the difference!
  • Save the prettiest cherries for the top of the cake and use crushed ones in the center of the lower layers.
  • This cake can be refrigerated overnight, but it will not last more than a couple of days due to the real whipped cream frosting.

About Molly Evert

Writer Molly Evert is a wife and homeschooling mom to 6 kids, who range in age from 2 to 18. She runs an educational website, My Audio School (, providing access to the best in children's audio literature. She also blogs at CounterCultural Mom ( and CounterCultural School (

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  1. My father in laws fav. cake. I am going to make this for his birthday this Friday! Thanks!