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Black Forest Layer Cake

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  • Prep 1 hr 30 min
  • Total 3 hr 30 min
  • Servings 12
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If you’re looking for a baking project or beautiful (and wildly delicious!) layered cake for a special occasion, look no further than this Black Forest Layer Cake. Three layers of a moist chocolate cake are separated by a from-scratch cherry filling (made with dark sweet cherries) that’s both rich and tart in its taste, then frosted with a Swiss buttercream frosting and decorated with shaved chocolate and a pile of maraschino cherries. What makes this cake truly special is the “double dam” frosting border! Frosting is piped twice on the outside edge of the cake layer so there’s a thick layer of buttercream that holds in the cherry filling. The end result is a dramatic black and white look and a touch of extra Swiss buttercream for frosting lovers. This cake is an absolute stunner, and it will reward the baker and the guests alike!
Updated Oct 17, 2019
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  • 2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Cherry Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed, drained, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  • 1/2 cup shaved semisweet chocolate baking bar (about 1 oz)
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries with stems, well drained and patted dry
Make With
Gold Medal Flour


  • 1
    Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottoms and sides of 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line with cooking parchment paper.
  • 2
    In small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another small bowl, beat baking cocoa and 1 1/4 cups water with whisk until well blended. Set both bowls aside.
  • 3
    In bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat 2/3 cup softened butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar on medium speed 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in eggs, one at a time, just until smooth. Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla. On low speed, beat in one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the cocoa mixture, beating well after each addition, just until smooth. Repeat with flour mixture and cocoa mixture, ending with flour mixture. Scrape side of bowl occasionally. Pour 1 2/3 cups batter in each pan; spread evenly. Tap pans on counter 2 to 3 times to eliminate air bubbles from batter.
  • 4
    Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • 5
    Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, beat 1/2 cup sugar and the cornstarch with whisk. Beat in 1/3 cup water until smooth. Stir in chopped cherries. On medium-high heat, heat cherry mixture to boiling; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Pour into small bowl. Refrigerate uncovered at least 1 hour.
  • 6
    In medium glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites and 1 1/2 cups sugar with whisk until blended. Set over pan of simmering water, beating occasionally, 16 to 20 minutes or until sugar has dissolved and egg mixture reaches 160°F. Remove from heat; pour into bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high speed 2 to 3 minutes or until glossy peaks form and bowl has cooled to feel slightly warm. Still on high speed, slowly add 1 1/2 cups butter, one piece at a time, scraping side of bowl occasionally, until mixture is smooth, thick and shiny, 12 to 14 minutes. Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla. If mixture separates, beat until smooth.
  • 7
    Fit decorating bag with 1/2-inch round piping tip; fill with frosting. Place one cake layer on serving plate. Pipe a thick frosting border around top edge of cake layer. Pipe a second border just inside the first border. Spread 2/3 cup of the cherry filling over top of cake inside borders. Top with second cake layer; repeat borders and filling. Place third cake layer on top. Frost side and top of cake with remaining frosting. Press shaved chocolate around bottom half of cake. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  • 8
    When ready to serve, mound maraschino cherries in center of cake. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Tips from the Betty Crocker Kitchens

  • tip 1
    We tested this recipe with an electric stand mixer. An electric hand mixer may also be used, but for the frosting, start on low and gradually increase speed, ensuring the mixer’s motor can handle it; the beating time may take a little longer.
  • tip 2
    To make shaved chocolate for this recipe, we used a 62% cacao semisweet chocolate baking bar. Use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate easily.
  • tip 3
    Soft butter is important in this recipe. To soften butter, cut in small pieces, and leave at room temperature. A faster method is to microwave butter in 5-second increments at 50% (Medium), turning the butter frequently so butter is softened but not melted.
  • tip 4
    Black Forest cakes typically have brandy in the cherry filling. Stir in 2 tablespoons brandy when adding the butter to the cherry filling, if desired.
  • tip 5
    If crumbs get in the frosting while frosting the cake, scrape off your icing spatula into a separate bowl so as not to get crumbs on the frosted cake.
  • tip 6
    A turntable is helpful when decorating a cake. You can build your cake on the flat surface, and it allows you to turn the cake as you frost, which makes it easier to decorate.
  • tip 7
    To keep your serving plate clean while frosting the cake, place strips of waxed paper around edge of plate. Remove after frosting, and decorating is complete.
  • tip 8
    There are different types of buttercream: Simple or American (butter and powdered sugar), Decorator's (typically using shortening and powdered sugar), French (egg yolks, sugar syrup and butter), Italian (sugar syrup, egg whites and butter) and Swiss (egg whites and sugar heated, and lots of butter)!
  • tip 9
    Making Swiss buttercream is a process that takes some patience. Heat egg whites and sugar in a double boiler until it reaches 160°F. Put egg-sugar mixture in a mixer fitted with whisk attachment, and beat until cooled. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups butter piece by piece so butter is nearly emulsified into the mixture. Take your time doing this! It will look like soft white meringue until the butter takes hold and becomes frosting. (It will not have frosting texture until nearly the last piece of butter is added.)
  • tip 10
    There are two types of cherries—sweet and sour. Sour cherries, also called pie cherries, tart cherries or tart red cherries make wonderful pies. Sweet cherries are great for eating fresh, but not for pies. Maraschino cherries are preserved sweetened cherries and are perfect for this cake. We used frozen dark sweet cherries to avoid the process of pitting.


700 Calories, 37g Total Fat, 7g Protein, 83g Total Carbohydrate, 62g Sugars

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Slice
Calories from Fat
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
1 1/2g
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
2 1/2 Starch; 0 Fruit; 3 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 7 Fat;
Carbohydrate Choice
5 1/2
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
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