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Black Forest Cake Recipe

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This Black Forest Cake recipe features three layers of moist chocolate cake, sweet softened cherries, and luscious vanilla heritage frosting. It’s alcohol-free and completely naturally sweetened, making it a perfect dessert for the whole family!

a refined sugar free black forest cake on a white cake stand with a jug of purple flowers in the background.

What better way to wrap up Naturally Sweet Cake Week 2020 than with an incredibly gorgeous Black Forest Gateau?

Six years ago I never would have attempted anything like this cake. I was intimidated by them. I believed that something as grand as a triple layer cake with a separate filling and pretty decorations was beyond my limited capabilities as a home baker.

It wasn’t until I started playing around with simple, minimalist decorating techniques that I was able to start breaking that belief. Instead of trying to achieve something I saw in my IG feed that was complicated and overwhelmed me, I tried things like naked cakes, adding height with piles of fruit or chocolate shards, and artfully rustic frosting swirls.

These simple techniques not only boosted my cake decorating confidence, but they were also beautiful and took no time at all. And we all know how much I not-so-secretly hate spending time decorating!

If you’re feeling how I was six years ago, I want to show you today that you do have the ability to create a show-stopping triple layer Black Forest Cake. Let’s go!

top down shot of a naturally sweetened black forest cake recipe with plates and fresh cherries in the upper right corner

Pulling it all Together: Crafting a Triple-Layer Cake

By now you can probably understand the theme of this week. I’ve given you all the tools and skills you needed on Days 1 and 2 to confidently bake and assemble your own glorious triple-layer, Insta-licious cake.

For this Black Forest Cake recipe, we’re using the same chocolate cake recipe from the Chocolate Sheet Cake, the same heritage frosting from the Easy Coffee Cake (minus the cinnamon), and adding one more speedy element: the cherry filling.

Let’s chat about the minor differences between baking this triple-layer cake and a two-layer cake:

a triple layer chocolate cake being drizzled with black cherry syrup with decorative cherries in the foreground.

One: Adding a Filling

The cherry filling recipe for this Black Forest Cake couldn’t be simpler. I feel kind of silly even calling the cherry layer a “recipe”, since it literally only involves simmering two ingredients – fresh cherries and agave nectar – in a pot until they’re soft.

Once they’ve cooled, all we do is scatter them between the cake layers to ensure a healthy amount of cherry in every bite.

If your cherries are very ripe and soft, you could even forgo the simmering part and scatter halved and pitted fresh cherries.

Two: Assembling a Naked Cake

The assembly process for this Black Forest Cake recipe is even simpler than the Easy Coffee Cake because we’re leaving the sides completely unfrosted. This decorating style is also known as a naked cake.

I love the contrasting dark and light effect of the chocolate layers and vanilla buttercream here. Finished with some shiny fresh cherries and cherry syrup for added drama and height, I think this decorating technique looks stunning and is really fast and easy to do:

  1. Simply stack a cake layer, top with frosting, some of the soft cherry filling and syrup.
  2. Repeat for the second layer.
  3. On the final layer, top with the fresh stemmed cherries and a drizzle of the syrup.
a slice of triple layer alcohol-free black forest cake on a plasterboard background with a navy napkin

Why you’ll love this moist black forest cake recipe

  • This entire Black Forest Cake recipe – from the cake layers to the frosting – is naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and agave nectar.
  • The chocolate sponges for this cake are extremely moist, rich, and fluffy. This is the only chocolate cake recipe you will ever need. Period.
  • No alcohol! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have Kirsch at my disposal and I wasn’t about to buy a giant bottle just for one recipe. We’re keeping things simple and non-alcoholic so that everyone can enjoy this Black Forest Cake!
  • The decorating process is easy and achievable for even beginner bakers and creates a stunning, Insta-worthy display.
  • The heritage (or ermine/cooked flour) frosting is the most forgiving of all the naturally sweetened frostings I’ve tried. It’s fluffy, soft, not sickly sweet, and ices like a dream.
two slices of refined sugar free black forest cake on a lavender plasterboard background.

How to make this Black Forest Cake recipe

This recipe pulls together everything we’ve done over the past week into one incredibly decadent cake. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Mix together your dry ingredients.
  2. Whisk together your wet ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the baking tins.
  5. Bake the cakes for 24 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when a cake tester inserted comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
  6. Let the sponges cool on a wire rack.
  7. Make the cherry filling by simmering pitted cherries and agave over a low heat until soft.
  8. Make the frosting.
  9. Assemble and serve your Black Forest Cake.

Need a little visual help? Follow along with the video tutorial for this Black Forest Cake recipe:

Tips for making this recipe perfectly

  • Make sure you preheat your oven and prep your tins ahead of mixing the batter.
  • Use fresh cherries (not frozen) for the best cherry syrup. Frozen cherries brought too much liquid into the mix and watered down the flavour of the syrup.
  • Make sure all of your frosting ingredients are at room temperature for best results. This will ensure a fluffy frosting that doesn’t curdle or split.
  • When baking the sponges for this Black Forest Cake recipe, place two tins on the middle rack and one on the lower rack in the oven for best results. The lower rack cake may have to cook approximately 2 minutes longer than the middle rack cakes, but check all three at the 24-minute mark.

Looking for more naturally sweetened cake recipes?

If you make this recipe, let me know by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram @naturallysweet_kitchen. I love seeing your creations and sharing them in my Stories. Or let me know you love this moist Black Forest Cake recipe by leaving a comment and rating below!

This easy Black Forest Cake recipe is naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and agave nectar. It's richly chocolatey, moist, and completely alcohol-free, so perfect for the whole family! Get the recipe at naturallysweetkitchen.com

Black Forest Cake Recipe

This naturally sweetened and alcohol-free Black Forest Cake recipe features three layers of moist chocolate cake, softened cherries, and luscious vanilla heritage frosting.

Category Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American, German
Keyword black forest cake no alcohol, black forest cake recipe, moist black forest cake
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 24 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 24 minutes
Author Amanda | Naturally Sweet Kitchen

Ingredients

Cake

  • 220 g unbleached plain flour
  • 65 g raw cacao powder
  • 325 g coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder (not instant granules)
  • 120 ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 120 ml oat milk room temperature
  • 110 g Greek yogurt room temperature
  • 240 ml hot coffee

Cherries

  • 225 g halved and pitted fresh cherries
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar

Vanilla Frosting

  • 270 ml agave nectar
  • 300 ml oat milk
  • 55 g unbleached plain flour
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • 300 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 250 g fresh cherries for decoration

Method

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease, line, and dust with cacao powder three 20cm (8 in) cake tins.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cacao powder, coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, vanilla, milk, and yogurt until well combined.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Mix until all the dry ingredients disappear – the batter will be very thick.

  5. Slowly pour in the hot coffee, whisking continuously until incorporated.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared tins and bake for 24-27 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Place the tins on a wire rack and allow the sponges to cool completely in the tins.

Cherries

  1. Place the cherries and agave in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Simmer the cherries, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are soft but still retain their shape, about 7 minutes.

  3. Strain the cherries from the syrup, reserving the syrup for decoration later. Let the cherries cool completely on a plate.

Vanilla Frosting

  1. Add the agave, milk, flour, and salt to a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until the flour disappears and the mixture comes to a boil.
  2. Allow the mixture to boil for 2-3 minutes, or until it thickens and reaches a loose pudding consistency.
  3. Remove the pudding from the heat and spread it out on a large platter to cool to room temperature.
  4. Once the pudding has cooled, add the butter to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on a high speed for 5 minutes until fluffy. Turn the mixer off and scrape down any off the sides of the bowl.
  5. Turn the mixer on to medium-low speed and slowly begin adding the pudding mixture to the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once all of the pudding has been added, add the vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until super fluffy.

Assembly

  1. Level any domed areas off of the sponges then place one sponge on a serving plate or cake stand.
  2. Spread ⅓ of the frosting on top of the layer, right to the edges. Scatter ½ of the softened cherries on top of the frosting. Drizzle ⅓ of the reserved cherry syrup over the cherries and frosting. Place a second layer of sponge on top. Repeat.

  3. For the final layer, spread the remaining frosting to the edges as before. Top with the fresh cherries in a circular pattern and drizzle the remaining cherry syrup over the top.

  4. Serve immediately.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • This cake is best served the day it is made. However, it will keep covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • You can make the frosting pudding up to 2 days in advance, just be sure to store it in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature and stir it well before adding to the butter.
  • The sponges can be made separately, up to 24 hours in advance. Keep the sponges covered and refrigerated until assembly.

Naturally Sweet Cake Week 2020 Giveaway Details

To celebrate Cake Week 2020, I’ll be giving away ONE grand prize and TWO runners-up prizes to home bakers who whip out their whisks and aprons and get baking some cake in the kitchen!

Grand Prize: Cake Baker’s Essentials Gift Pack ($130 USD Value)

  • 1 GIR Ultimate Spatula in Navy
  • 1 Wilton cranked palette knife
  • 1 Wilton cake leveling tool
  • 1 set reusable cake tin liners (8-inch)
  • 1 Oxo premium cake tester
  • 1 copy of Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book (Ebook version for winner outside of UK)
  • 1 $50 USD Amazon gift card (or equivalent GBP amount)

Runners-up Prize: Baking Shopping Spree ($50 USD Value)

  • 1 $50 USD Amazon gift card (or equivalent GBP amount)

How to Enter:

Step One: Bake any one of the three cakes published during cake week on naturallysweetkitchen.com between 2 March, 2020 and 31 March, 2020:

Step Two: Snap a picture and post it to Instagram Stories, your Instagram Feed, or in the NSK Crew Facebook Group tagging me @naturallysweet_kitchen and #NaturallySweetCakeWeek.

Bonus entries can be obtained by baking all three of the cakes (up to three extra entries per person), and by leaving a star-rated review on the recipe (up to three extra entries (one per recipe post) per person).

Terms & Conditions:

This contest is open to residents of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, United States, and Canada (excluding Quebec). You must be over the age of 18 to qualify. There will be 1 Grand Prize winner (RRP $130 USD) and 2 Runners-up Prize winners (RRP $50 USD ea). This contest will open 02/03/2020 at 9am GMT and close 31/03/2020 at 11.59pm GMT. The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted via direct message; they will have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize. Fake or giveaway-only accounts will be disqualified. Instagram profile must be public to be eligible to win. This giveaway is not sponsored, administered by or associated with Instagram or any other social media used throughout promotion of this contest.

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