This rustic cake combines all the elements of a fancy Black Forest Cake — chocolate cake, cherries, whipped cream, and a healthy dose of kirsch — in the simplest form.
If your vision of black forest cake happens to involve Maraschino cherries, this particular take on the genre is not for you. Fresh Bing cherries, full of bright sweetness, make this simple black forest cake a perfect summer dessert. With its easy preparation, no fuss presentation, and chocolate-fruit indulgence, this layer cake is a serious winner.
I baked this cake for the first time with a glass of wine in hand while catching up with my friend Michele. It really is that easy. Michele even offered to pit and slice the cherries, so here’s a helpful hint to make your preparations even easier: make this cake in good company. After dinner, when we finished layering all the ingredients together, Michele’s son Elias took one wide-eyed look at the cake and gasped, “Did you make that!” This just goes to show you that simple can still be stunning.
The chocolate cake, baked in a spring-form pan, is sliced in half horizontally and then loaded with cherries tossed with sugar and kirsch. The berries’ juices soak into the bottom cake layer, making it extra moist and flavorful.
Lightly sweetened whipped cream tops the cherries; in addition to holding the cake together, its smooth coolness bridges the intense dark chocolate and bright, fruity cherries.
After placing the top half of the chocolate cake over the filling, a generous dollop of whipped cream and a handful of cherries complete the cake’s look.
There’s no need to get fancy frosting this dessert; in fact, if you prefer, skip layering altogether and simply serve cake slices topped with cherries and whipped cream. Either way, it looks — and tastes — like summer.
Simple Black Forest Cake
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons kirsch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons butter softened but still cool
- 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- Cherry Filling
- 1 1/2 pounds cherries pitted and halved, plus a handful whole cherries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons kirsch
- Whipped Cream
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
- To prepare the cake, place unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Carefully pour in boiling water and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.
- Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine sour cream, kirsch, and vanilla extract. Mix well and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg to the butter mixture, beat well, and then add the egg yolk. Beat until blended. Add the chocolate mixture. Stir to mix.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream mixture to the batter in several additions. Stir until well combined.
- Scrape the batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top to even out the batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
- Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the pan.
- Toss pitted, sliced cherries with sugar and kirsch in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.
- Cut cake in half horizontally. Set half the cake, cut side up, on a cake stand and top with cherry mixture. Spread three-quarters of cream over cake and cherries, then top with remaining cake layer, cut side down. Swirl remaining cream on top. Garnish with whole cherries.
- For easier slicing, refrigerate the prepared cake for about an hour before serving.