Gordon Ramsay's Black Forest cake recipe

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A beautiful, decadent Black Forest cake with moist chocolate sponge and kirsch-soaked cherries. A truly epic teatime treat.

Black forest cake sliced open
(Image credit: Getty/ValdisO)
Preparation Time1 hours 30 mins
Cooking Time50 mins
Total Time2 hours 20 mins
Cost RangeMid

Gordon Ramsay’s Black Forest cake is inspired by the traditional German gateau and makes a really stunning centrepiece for a high tea.

Black Forest gateau is an impressive cake with dark chocolate, cherry and espresso sponge, layered with whipped cream, cherry compote and more cherries. It often has three or four tiers, but really there's no need for such showiness. This version has just two perfect layers, with all the rich, decadent flavours that the cake is so famous for. The velvet sponge is the perfect texture for absorbing a little of the kirsch, to give it that irresistible moistness and cherry kick.


  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cooled espresso or strong coffee
  • 100g dark chocolate (minimum 65% cocoa solids), melted in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water

For the filling and topping:

  • 500g ripe cherries
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 75ml kirsch or cherry brandy
  • 550ml double cream
  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar, to taste
  • 4-5 tbsp good-quality cherry compote
  • Grated chocolate, to garnish




  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas 2. Butter, line and butter again the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together and set aside.
  2. In a large grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks using an electric beater. Beat the butter and sugar in another mixing bowl until pale and light. Beat in the yolks one at a time, then fold the espresso through, followed by the melted chocolate.
  3. In several batches, fold the sifted flour mixture and the beaten egg whites alternately into the butter mixture. Spread the combined batter over the base of the prepared tin and level with a spatula.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake emerges clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment.
  5. Remove the stems and pit three-quarters of the cherries, leaving the stems on the remaining cherries to garnish. Put all the cherries, the sugar and kirsch in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the cherries are just soft, giving them an occasional stir. Tip the cherries and kirsch syrup into a bowl and leave to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk the cream and icing sugar into soft peaks.
  7. Using a long, sharp knife, halve the cake horizontally. Drizzle each half with the kirsch syrup from the cherries to moisten. Place the bottom half on a cake stand and spread over half the whipped cream. Arrange the stemmed and pitted cherries over the cream, then spoon over a layer of cherry compote. Top with the upper half of the cake. Spread the remaining cream on top. Sprinkle over a little grated chocolate, then garnish with the whole stemmed cherries. You can add cream around the sides of the cake for a more 'finished' look, or leave the layers showing, as you prefer.

Tips for making Gordon Ramsay's Black Forest cake

Fresh stemmed cherries are the perfect garnish for the assembled cake, but if they're not available, use a large jar of marinated cherries in kirsch.

If you're worried about cutting the cake into two layers evenly, try this trick. Measure the height of the cake with a ruler and insert a toothpick into the sponge halfway up, so that it sticks out to the side. Do this all the way around the cake with 16-20 toothpicks. Your cake will now look like a kids drawing of the sun! Using a long, serrated knife, use the toothpicks as a guide to gently saw through the cake to create two even layers. Ensuring the cake is completely cooled before you start will make this easier.

Why do they call it Black Forest cake?

Black Forest cake gets its name from the speciality cherry liquor made in the Black Forest mountain range in Germany. It's called Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser, which translates to Black Forest kirsch water, and it's made from distilled tart cherries grown in that region. It's a protected origin food, meaning you can't sell a cake called Black Forest cake unless it uses genuine Black Forest cherry kirsch.

What’s the difference between chocolate cake, Black Forest cake and Black Forest gateau?

The difference between chocolate cake and Black Forest cake is the cherries. Traditional chocolate cake doesn’t contain cherries but Black Forest cake has cherry liqueur between the layers of the chocolate cake and chopped up cherries in the cream filling. The difference between Black Forest 'cake' and 'gateau' is the number of layers. A cake normally has two, whereas a gateau has three or four.

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Gordon Ramsay
Celebrity chef

Gordon Ramsay is a celebrity multi-Michelin starred chef. Born who in Scotland, he has restaurants all over the world including the UK, France, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States. He’s a proud father-of-five and many of his recipes are particularly suited to if you’re entertaining for your family or a group of friends. He trained with some of the world’s most renowned chefs including Albert Roux, Marco Pierre White and Guy Savoy and opened his first restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, in 1998.