A Short History of the Black Forest Cake

There are so many stories behind this chocolate-and-cherry cake!

Cherries, chocolate, and whipped cream are the main ingredients of the Black Forest cake. The version we know is a two-layered chocolate cake covered in sweetened whipped cream with pitted maraschino cherries dotting the top and chocolate shavings covering the sides of the cake. A bite reveals the cherry flavor further incorporated into the cake layers.

It’s the dream cake of those who love the combination of chocolate and fruits. But did you know that the original Black Forest cake should taste different?

PHOTO BY Pixabay

Contrary to what you may have tasted before, the original Black Forest cake should be soaked in a cherry liquor that isn't a maraschino cherry and is, in fact, not very sweet.

The cream cake should be a layered confection of a liquor-soaked chocolate sponge with a rich whipped cream, with sour cherries in between the layers. The liquor and cherries used give impart an intense and unique, fruity flavor. It’s these sour cherries that contributed its German name: Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen or “Black Forest Cherry Cake.” The kirsch or kirschwasser ("cherry" in German is “kirsch” while water is wasser”) is a clear, unsweetened brandy made from the sour cherries of Germany.


There are many origin stories about the cake but what is true for all Black Forest cakes is that it's made with chocolate cake, cherries, and covered in whipped cream. Only the German version has kirsch-soaked layers, which is best enjoyed by adults only.

PHOTO BY Pixabay

One possible origin story also claims that the cake was created by those living near the Black Forest in Germanythe cake was supposedly inspired by the outfit of a woman who lived in the Black Forest. The outfit? A black dress (chocolate), a white blouse (cream), and a unique hat which sports red pompoms (cherries) on top.

Possible? Maybe, but there are other stories that claim otherwise.

According to the town archivist of Tingen, it was a pastry chef named Erwin Hildenbrand who invented the cake, and it was named "Black Forest" because he had previously worked in the said place. Another origin story from the website of the Café Schaefer claims that the creation of the cake is credited to Josef Keller, a pastry chef who passed down his recipe book to his apprentice-turned-co-worker, August Schaefer. His descendant, Claus Schaefer, is the current head chef of the shop. It was from this recipe book where a recipe for a "Black Forest Cherry Cake" was found.

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This story originally appeared on Yummy.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Spot.ph editors.

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