Black Forest Gateau

Being served since 1915/30?
Go to recipe

One of the most decadent and gorgeous tasting cakes

There are many versions around but the only really authentic ones are baked in the Black Forest.


When I was asked by my German conversation teacher in 6th Form College which part of Germany I would like to visit, I said the Black Forest, not dreaming that I would someday end up living near there. The Black Forest sounds like a place in a daunting fairytale.

Waterfall Triberg


The name Black Forest/Schwarzwald derives from the dark colour of the pine trees that grow in abundance there. It is, however, a quite beautiful place with National parks and many stunning spots. It isn´t just a forest but consists of stretches of high pastures and valleys, offering all kinds of outdoor adventure.

The German name Schwarwälder Kirschtorte derives from the Kirsch which is something like gin but made using slightly sour cherries. This gives the cake its distinct taste. German law demands that any dessert officially called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte must have Kirsch in it. 

A piece of Black Forest Gateau


And what better thing to do, after having exerted yourself on a mountain bike trail, or climbing up some steep rocks than visit one of the many cafés in the area for coffee and a piece of the famous Black Forest Gateau.

A cake’s best friend – coffee

In Germany there is a vibrant coffee and cake culture, so here is some information about how to choose your coffee and what coffee is all about.

Cake on a plate

It is said that a true Black Forest Gateau is only authentic if made from cherries grown in the Black Forest area. I had the pleasure of spending some weeks in Gengenbach in the Black Forest a few years back. A town that featured incorrectly in the film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as Düsseldorf. I was able to view the Cherry blossom in Sassbachwalden and spent many an afternoon doing research, chatting to friends in cafés, and sampling the famous cake. In this area, the size of a piece of cake fits only on a dinner plate, definitely not on a cake plate.

Two Claims to Fame

You would think that a Black Forest Gateau would come from the Black Forest. There are two claims to fame. The first was made by Josef Keller who was the pastry chef at Café Agner in Bad Godesberg which is now part of Bonn, the former capital of Germany and not in the Black Forest. This recipe was passed down and finally printed in a cookery book in 1930.
The second claim is made by pastry chef Erwin Hildenbrand who worked in many different locations in the Black Forest. In the town of his origin, Tingen they maintain that Hildenbrand had the first recipe in 1930 with written proof. By the way, the reason why there are so many cherry trees in the Black Forest is that it was customary for newlyweds to plant a cherry tree.

The Best Black Forest Gateau we know

Our connection with the Black Forest Gateau comes by way of my daughter’s grandmother, who was born in the Black Forest. She very much disliked cherries believe it or not. At the request of her husband, she baked a gateau and it turned out so well that from that day on she baked one for every family celebration for several decades. That was one main reason for looking forward to these occasions.

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Black Forest gateau. (2021, 5. März). Abgerufen am 23. April 2021, von

Germany: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Cake). (o. D.). Abgerufen am 25. April 2021, von

Zeni, S. Z. (2018, 4. Mai). Black Forest Cake: The Story Behind This Legendary German Cake. Abgerufen am 15. April 2021, von


A bowl of cherries

Photo by sixninepixels

About The Author


I come from Britain but I have been living in Germany for almost 40 years now. I worked for a well-known Car company as a translator, a European correspondent and clerk. I have been chronically ill for a while, I write about that in another blog. One pleasure that has remained, is cooking and baking. For me cooking is a way of expressing love and I am so grateful I can still do that.

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