Black forest cake

black forest cake

In pastry school, some days are good, and some days aren’t so good.

Saturday was a good day because I discovered that I’ve been over-whisking my Italian meringues. Talk about revelation. Prior to Saturday, I whisked each batch, like mad, until it had cooled to room temperature. It turns out that I should have been whisking the meringue until it had cooled (not necessarily completely cooled if the room is hot) but more importantly just until the meringue is firm and set. If you whisk past that point, you risk deflating it, like I’ve been doing.

I also seem to have developed the habit of standing on my tippy toes when I whisk with my giant balloon whisk, as one chef pointed out. Why? Maybe extra height will give me more power! I’m still working on fixing that one, and of course, practicing Italian meringue. In any case, Saturday, I felt like I accomplished something. Saturday was a good day.

gâteau forêt noire

In the last week, I’ve been focusing on practicing génoise cakes. The génoise cake is another balloon-whisk recipe that I’m working on getting just right. The eggs and sugar are whisked over a double-boiler to 55°C (while standing on my tippy toes), then whisked off the heat back to room temperature (more tippy toes) at which point the mixture is a very creamy light yellow and ribbony. Finally, you carefully but quickly fold in the flour (and cocoa if using), and the melted butter. If you fold too much, your mixture will deflate and you risk making a rock-hard cake. If you don’t fold the mixture enough, you end up with a cake with little flour rocks randomly dispersed throughout. There’s a fine line between too mixed, and not mixed enough.

black forest cake

Today wasn’t great. I made my 7th and 8th génoise of the month and they were domed and cracked on top and looked like the moon when sliced open because they both had crater holes in them, kind of like swiss cheese. It was embarrassing how they looked. I was ashamed to pull them out of the oven considering how much I’ve been practicing. I guess I need to practice even more…

Tomorrow is another day, and therefore another opportunity to hopefully understand and master the génoise. I will just keep making them until I get it right, and then I will make a few more to be sure I really know what I’m doing. Here’s hoping hard work and positivity will pay off!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a basic recipe for a black forest cake. You can obviously make it with a chocolate génoise sliced into three even layers (like I did in school), or you can use your favorite chocolate cake for the layers.


Black forest cake

Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 11 minutes
Servings 8
Author Janice


For the whipped cream

  • 600 mL whipping cream
  • 60 mL icing sugar sifted
  • 1 –2 tsp vanilla extract

For the soaking syrup

  • 200 grams granulated sugar
  • 200 mL water
  • 30 mL kirsch

For assembly

  • 1 6- inch chocolate cake sliced into three even layers
  • 150 grams drained boozy cherries like <a href="" rel="nofollow">these</a>
  • 300 grams chocolate shavings


For the whipped cream

  1. In a large bowl with a balloon whisk (or in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the icing sugar and vanilla, and continue whipping to firm peaks. Set aside in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

For the soaking syrup

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup comes just to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool.
  2. When the syrup has cooled, add the kirsch to flavor it. Set aside.

To assemble the cake

  1. Place the first layer of cake on a cake board (or <a href="" rel="nofollow">rotating cake stand</a>) and brush generously with the soaking syrup (if working with a génoise cake, brush on enough syrup that when you press on the cake, the syrup comes up).
  2. Top with a layer of whipped cream and a third of the cherries. Press the cherries in place lightly, then spread another thin layer of whipped cream over top to lock them in place.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with the the second layer of cake.
  4. Top the cake with the third layer, brushing it with syrup and topping it with a thin layer of whipped cream.
  5. Spread whipped cream on the sides of the cake and smooth the surface.
  6. Press chocolate shavings all over the sides.
  7. Top the cake with more chocolate shavings and pipe on a few decorative rosettes with a star tip. Place a cherry in the middle of each rosette.
  8. Sprinkle the cake with a little cocoa powder and icing sugar before serving.

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8 Responses to Black forest cake

  1. grongar May 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    So happy to hear you’ve conquered the Italian meringue! Next will be the génoise. You can do it! And that cake up there? That looks pretty darn delicious….


  2. Jeannie May 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Oh my! but that looks so delicious! You did a great job putting this cake together, I know it’s not easy!

  3. Melissa@Eyes Bigger May 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Black Forest Cake was my favourite cake as a kid. I still love it… I think the name has something to do with it. But I sure do admire your perseverance! I think I’d be pretty hopeless at genoise – I can’t even get the folding/mixing right in a muffin recipe after all these years!

    • Jan May 11, 2012 at 12:57 am #

      Folding is awful! But I’ve started counting while I fold so that I keep track of how many folds I’m making, thus avoiding getting lost in mixing/deflation! Haha! I think it’s working!

  4. Eve May 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    First, lovely cake!

    Second, maybe go on epicurious or foodgawker (or tartlette she always has lovely looking cakes) on one of your days off and just for fun try out another genoise recipe? Maybe this one just isn’t “for” you and if you can conquer another maybe it’ll give you the confidence to fix or master your current one. I know that I’ve come across recipes that just didn’t work for me. I would try and fail again and again and just get ridiculously frustrated and defeated only to try a different one, succeed, and go back to the old one.

    At least you conquered the meringue! 😀

    Best of luck. 🙂


    – Eve

    • Jan May 12, 2012 at 11:14 am #

      Hi Eve,
      Thanks for the suggestion! I think that is a great idea for me to try a different recipe and then go back to the original!

  5. Vreid June 12, 2016 at 8:30 am #

    Where’s the cake BF Ingridients?

    • Janice June 12, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

      You can use any chocolate cake recipe (or chocolate sponge cake) you like. For this I used a chocolate génoise.

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