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German Black Forest Cake

By Sabina Wrightsman

black forrest cake

The German ‘Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte’ is known as the ‘German Black Forest Cake’ in the USA. The German name translates back to ‘Black Forest cherry cake.’

The recipe for this cake is now 100 years old. Happy birthday Black Forest cake! We trust that you will be around and baked for many more years to come despite the calories you contain.

With a name like ‘Black Forest cake,’ you know that it originated in Germany, specifically in the southwest region of Germany, in the Black Forest. But Josef Keller, who created the first recipe in his Conditorei or coffee shop 100 years ago, lived in Bad Godesberg, which is quite a bit north of the Black Forest, in southern North Rhine-Westphalia.

How is the name of this famous cake then associated with the name ‘Black Forest?’

To understand the answer, it is important to know the ingredients in the different layers of this cake:
Sour cherries
Whipped cream
Sugar
Chocolate and chocolate shavings
Butter
More whipped cream
Cherry water

Cherry water, also simply called ‘Kirsch’ in German, means ‘cherry’ in English. It is a clear, colorless brandy made from sour cherries. It is not a sweet brandy, but rather tarty like fresh sour cherries.  It is this cherry water that originates and is distilled in the Black Forrest – hence the name.

In Germany, this cake always contains cherry brandy and deserves the name ‘Kirsch’ in it. The cakes in the United States do not contain any alcohol, only cherries as decoration, and sometimes even no cherries at all. That is why the English name does not have the word ‘cherry’ in it but only kept the name ‘Black Forest’.

Let’s all enjoy a piece and not count the calories!

 

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