Small Black Forest Cake

Yesterday was Todd’s birthday, and in honor of that I made him a Black Forest Cake using yet another variation on the recipe. There are so many! I’ve tried everything from the authentic sounding type made with Kirschwasser and buttercream, to the convenience version made with chocolate cake mix and canned cherry pie filling. In the end, I usually end up going with some kind of hybrid version composed of a scratch chocolate cake, homemade or canned pie filling, and lots of fresh whipped cream. Yesterday’s cake was in that category, but slightly different. Instead of regular chocolate cake, the cake is a thin chocolate sponge cake baked in a jellyroll pan. It only calls for 6 tablespoons of flour, and has no butter or oil. All the fat comes from the egg yolks.

Black Forest Cake

Note to self: Buy more stemmed cherries. This cake was crying for one, yet we had to go without.

The original version was made with two 10×15 inch layers which you cut into rectangles and stack to make a log. Because Black Forest Cake gets kind of soggy as it sits around (and there are only two of us to eat it), so I made a smaller version using one layer of cake cut into six squares. Stacking was a bit of a challenge, but it came together in the end. My only regret was that I didn’t have a stemmed Maraschino cherry to top it off.

Small Black Forest Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Black forest cake made with chocolate cake layers, cherry filling and fresh whipped cream
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1.7 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch process or Hershey’s Dark cocoa powder
  • 5/8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cherry Filling
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can pitted tart cherries
  • 1/2 scant cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Whipped Cream and Garnishes
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate syrup and a stemmed cherry
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10x15 inch pan and line with wax paper. Grease and flour the wax paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder, then stir in the salt. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
  4. In a second bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Beat in the vanilla, then stir the egg yolks into the whites.
  5. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
  6. Spread the mixture evenly across the pan. It will seem thin, but will puff up in the oven.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes or until layers appear set. Loosen from the edges with a knife, and then carefully turn onto a wire rack. Remove pan and carefully peel away the paper. Let cool completely.
  8. Prepare the filling. Drain cherries, reserving 1/4 cup juice. Combine reserved 1/4 cup juice, cherries, 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in extracts and let cool completely.
  9. Prepare the whipped cream. Combine whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla.
  10. Assemble the cake. Cut the cake into 6 squares. Put one square on a cake plate and spread about 3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of whipped cream over it. Spoon about 3 tablespoon of the cherry filling across it. Repeat, layering squares of cake, whipped cream and filling, until you have a stack. Cover the entire stack with whipped cream. Decorate by piping more whipped cream around edges, or garnish with chocolate syrup and a stemmed cherry.
I actually used nonstick foil instead of greased waxed paper, but the cake layer is very sticky and was difficult to pry off the foil. However, it was doable, so if you only have nonstick foil or parchment, you can use that. The brand of cherries I used was Oregon canned tart. They do break apart as you stir, but in this case it's beneficial because the broken cherries make stacking easier. If you use canned filling with big, fat, whole cherries, the cake may be a little wobbly. I think it would work, though.


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  1. says

    What an interesting cake recipe! As a kid, I used to think that black forest cake was my favorite kind of cake–and then I ordered it in a restaurant that served it ‘traditional style’ with the alcohol. Boy, was I disappointed! Happy birthday, Todd!

  2. says

    I’m actually happy you didn’t post a cross section, I don’t think I could have handled that :). I haven’t had a good blackforest cake in a long while, and for some reason, have yet to make one on my own. Something intimidates me about them, I think, even though I’ve made cakes that have similar steps in the past.

  3. says

    Adam, the cross-section looks kind of mushy because I had to wait until the next day to photograph it.

    Also, if you’re intimidated by Black Forest, start easy. Just made Black Magic Cake (or whatever dark layer cake you feel comfortable with), slice it into layers, and fill it with sweetened whipped cream and cherry pie filling.

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