Bakeries in Europe are known to produce some of the most delicious desserts imaginable.  Many examples have made their way to the United States and while some bakeries continue to use the authentic recipes, others have adapted the recipes in some way or another.  The Black Forest cake is one of those delicious desserts that originated in a German bakery.

In Germany, the wonderfully delicious cake is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, which means Black Forest Cherry Torte or Gateau.  The authentic torte is usually four layers of chocolate sponge cake with cherries and whipped cream and a bottom layer of a pastry crust.  The frosting is whipped cream which is covered with shavings of chocolate.  The whipped cream and bottom layer of sponge cake is flavored with cherry schnapps or Kirschwasser.Black Forest Cake; Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Source: Wikimedia Commons

The confection from the local supermarket bakery is far removed from the original.  The recipes of this dessert rarely use sponge cake, are only one or two layers, and do not include the pastry bottom nor the Kirschwasser.  However, most people do not know the difference and enjoy the American version of the dessert.

History of the Scrumptious Confection

The history of the German cake is interesting.  There are several theories about how the torte got its name.  Some historians believe the name was derived from the traditional costume worn by women in Germany’s Black Forest.  The hat has red pom-poms like cherries, the dress is black like the chocolate and the blouse is white like the whipped cream.   Others believe it is named for the Kirschwasser that is produced from the cherries of the Black Forest, and is a key ingredient in the cake.

Most historians believe the torte originated in the late 16th century in the Black Forest region of Germany.  During this time chocolate was first integrated into cookies and cakes and the region is known for its sour cherries and Kirschwasser which is a cherry brandy made from sour Morello cherries.  The original torte was most likely not a cake at all, but was a German dessert with a combination of cream, cooked cherries, a biscuit and Kirsch.

Although no recipe is found in print before 1930, Josef Keller claims creation of the first Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in 1915.  He was a pastry chef at the Café Ahrend in Bad Godesberg.  He called his creation Schwarzwaelder Kirsch, or Black Forest Cherry.  His original recipe was inherited by the Claus Schaefer, the son of Keller’s apprentice.  Schaefer is the head chef at Triberg’s Konditorei Schaefer.

This claim Keller is the inventor of the torte is argued by research conducted by the town of Tubingen.  The town's archivist claims there is evidence master patisserie, Erwin Hildenbrand, invented the creation in 1930 at Tubingen’s Café Walz after having worked for several years in various bakeries in the Black Forest region.

 The first documentation of the confection was in 1934.  At that time, the torte was well known in German bakeries as well as in Austrian and Swiss bakeries.  In 1949 the cake was declared the 13th best known German cakes and from that time, the yummy torte became known worldwide.One Version of Black Forest Cake; Source: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Source: Wikimedia Commons

Today's Confection

While a German bakery may adhere to the original recipe of the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte,, some bakers, especially in Austria use rum instead of cherry brandy. Many American bakeries do not add liquor of any kind.  Quick recipes use a simple chocolate cake and cherry pie filling with whipped cream on the top only; others use maraschino cherries.

Regardless of which Black Forest cake recipe is used, this torte is one of the best tasting German desserts and seems to stand the test of time.  It is included in the majority of books that feature German food recipes.


The copyright of the article Black Forest Cake is one of the Tastiest German Desserts is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


How to Make Black Forest Cake

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