Vegan German Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)

reading time: 5 min

Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) is a traditional German dessert, probably named after the Black Forest in southwestern Germany, or rather the local speciality of Schwarzwälder Kirsch(wasser), a brandy made from sour cherries.

It is the most popular cake here in Germany, traditionally made with chocolate sponge cake layers filled with whipped cream and cherry compote as well as covered in whipped cream and chocolate shavings, resulting in a slightly rustic look. It usually also contains Kirsch or Kirschwasser, hence the name. I made this gorgeous cake – that would also be absolutely justified to bear the name "Snow White Cake" in my opinion – for my fiancé's birthday this week. It was a huge hit!!

In our case, I made it alcohol-free, but I did include some instructions for adding the cherry brandy in the recipe, if you prefer your cake to be a bit boozy. I also didn't go for the classic chocolate shavings on the sides, but used homemade chocolate bark instead. Again, instructions for that are included in this recipe!

This Black Forest cake is
& simply heavenly

I've created my own recipe based on various recipes online, most notably this one by Bianca Zapatka, as well as this one.

This recipe is ideal to prepare over two days – prepare the cake and the cherry compote the night before, and continue with the cream filling and frosting the next day. The finished cake can be chilled for a couple of hours before serving!


Preparation time: 2 hours
Main ingredients: spelt flour, sugar, cacao, cream, cherries
difficulty level: easy-moderate
serves: 12 (26 cm- or 10-inch springform pan)
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, wheat-free, yeast-free, nut-free


Chocolate cake:
450 g spelt flour (type 630)
300 g
raw cane sugar 
1 packet (15 g) of baking powder
2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt (I recommend using kala namak for that "eggy" taste, but regular salt is also just fine!)
5 tbsp cacao powder

12 tbsp sunflower oil or canola oil
500 ml water or plant-based milk (I use filtered water)
(optional but recommended)
2–3 tbsp chopped vegan dark chocolate or vegan dark chocolate shavings
(optional) up to 9 tbsp Kirschwasser (or other cherry brandy or rum)

Cherry compote:
350 g cherries, canned or fresh (I use canned morello cherries)
230 ml cherry juice (from the canned cherries)
40 g raw cane sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
(optional) 1
tsp vanilla extract

Cream filling and frosting:

500 ml vegan whipping cream (I use the German brand Schlagfix for this – place in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for about 30 minutes to make it easier to whip!)
2 1/2 packets of cream stabilizer
3 drops of vanilla flavouring

Chocolate bark:
200 g good quality dark vegan chocolate, chopped

8–16 fresh or canned cherries (maraschino cherries are traditional, but I use the canned morello cherries)
3–4 tbsp dark
vegan chocolate shavings


I recommend preparing the chocolate cake either the day before assembling the cake, or at least a couple hours prior to serving.

To make the chocolate cake:

Preheat oven to 170 °C / 340 °F. Grease and flour a 26 cm- or 10-inch springform pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine spelt flour, sugar, baking powder, cornstarch, cacao powder, and salt. Add vegetable oil, and water or plant-based milk. Whisk well until the batter is nicely incorporated. Gently fold in chopped dark chocolate, if using.

Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan, and bake in the preheated oven at 170 °C / 340 °F for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, and leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

TIP: While the cake is baking (or while it is cooling down) you can already go ahead and make the cherry compote!

To make the cherry compote: 

If using canned cherries, drain the cherries, and collect the juice. Reserve 230 ml of the cherry juice, and discard (aka: drink) the rest.

Combine 3 tbsp of the reserved cherry juice in a small bowl with the cornstarch. Whisk until dissolved, the add the sugar.

Bring the remaining cherry juice in a small saucepan to a simmer, remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch/sugar mixture. Bring back to a simmer while whisking constantly until it starts to thicken. Add the cherries, and cook for another 3 minutes or so until thickened a little more. Stir in the optional vanilla essence, if using, and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

To make the chocolate bark:

Melt dark chocolate using the double boiler method or in the microwave, stirring in between until fully melted. Pour the melted chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate to a thin even layer.

Roll up the parchment from the short side, making sure that only paper touches the chocolate, no chocolate to chocolate. Once it is no longer hot, refrigerate or freeze until firm.

To use, slowly unroll the paper with the chocolate facing upwards toward you. The shards will start to break on their own.

To make the cream filling and frosting:

Remove the vegan whipping cream from the fridge or freezer. Beat cream using an electric hand mixer on high speed for about 1 minute. Add cream stabilizer and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.

TIP: Ideally use an ideally cold bowl for this, that you have also placed in the refrigerator for a while.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble:

Using a serrated knife, level the completely cooled cake by trimming of the top. (Feed that to your loved ones that are already waiting for you to finish the cake ☺️) Cut the trimmed cake horizontally into three layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate or cake stand. If you like, drizzle all three cake layers with up to 3 tbsp Kirschwasser each.

Spread half of the cherry compote evenly on the bottom cake layer. Spread about a third of the whipped cream over the compote, leaving about a finger's width around the edge. (It will squash out a little when you sandwich the layers together.) Make sure that the surface is as smooth and even as possible.

Top with the middle cake layer and repeat spreading with the remaining cherry compote and another third cream.

Lastly, carefully place the third cake layer on top (smooth side up). Set aside about 3/4 cup of whipped cream for decoration.

Using a clean spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream until the cake is completely covered in whipped cream.

Decorate sides of the cake with the prepared chocolate bark. Pipe 8 to 16 swirls of whipped cream around the edge of the cake, and garnish the middle of the cake with remaining chopped chocolate bark or chocolate shavings. Put a cherry on each cream swirl.

Refrigerate cake until serving. Dig in!