Sourdough Black Forest Cake

In our home, one of our favorite cakes for special occasions is Black Forest Cake, a scrumptious torte made from layers of dark chocolate cake, sour cherries, and cherry-flavored whipped cream. As we’ve sought to eat more nourishing and traditional foods, I’ve wondered how best to prepare the rare sweet treat like this one, but with a bit of experimentation (and with a bit of inspiration from other real food bloggers), I’ve stumbled upon a cake we truly love and that I feel excited about serving. Of course, even though this recipe uses alternative sweeteners and traditional fats, it’s still a treat and should be eaten in moderation. (Don’t moderate your enjoyment, however!)  If you don’t have a friend from whom you can pilfer a bit of sourdough starter, you can find a starter online. When I purchased mine, it was ready to use in about five days.)

sourdough black forest cake


By Jenny Published: January 23, 2012

  • Yield: 1 torte (6-8 Servings)
  • Prep: 30 (not including the time it takes for the sourdough to start) mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Ready In: 60 mins

A scrumptious torte made from layers of dark chocolate cake, sour cherries, and cherry-flavored whipped cream.


  • for the cake
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (recently started)
  • 1 cup milk (preferably raw)
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat or spelt flower
  • 1 cup unrefined cane sugar (or 3/4 cup of date syrup)
  • 1 cup unrefined, virgin coconut oil (melted and cooled but still liquid
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large pastured eggs
  • 1 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 100 grams (4 oz) unsweetened chocolate (melted and cooled or 1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder)
  • for the soaking syrup
  • 1/3 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 cup unrefined cane sugar, coconut palm sugar, or raw honey
  • 3 tbsp kirsch (or other cherry-flavored liqueur)
  • for the cherry whipped cream
  • 3 cups heavy cream (preferably raw)
  • 2 tbsp kirsch (or other cherry-flavored liqueur)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • for assembly
  • 2 cups sour cherries (pitted, plus 8-16 cherries for the final garnish)
  • 50-100 grams dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao, finely grated or curled)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, the milk, and the flour. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours.
  2. After 8 to 24 hours, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease well two 8-inch round or 7-inch square cake pans.
  3. Scrape the sourdough batter into the bowl of an electric mixer (or grab your favorite wooden spoon to mix by hand). Add the cane sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla and mix on low speed. Increase the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and add sea salt, baking soda, and chocolate. Mix just until uniform, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed. If the batter is very thick, add a few tablespoons of milk to thin it. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack.
  4. While the cake cools, prepare the soaking syrup and cherry whipped cream. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the kirsch. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  5. To prepare the whipped cream, chill the bowl of an electric mixer in the refrigerator or freezer or by filling it with ice water for a few minutes and then drying thoroughly. Place three cups heavy cream into a mixing bowl with kirsch and vanilla extract and beat on high speed using the whisk attachment until soft peaks appear. Remove three-quarters of the mixture and reserve in the refrigerator to layer with the cake. Beat the remaining cream to firm peaks. Spoon into a piping bag and refrigerate.
  6. To assemble the cake, slice each cooled cake horizontally to create a total of four thin layers. Save one of the bottom layers to use as the top layer, since it is flat and smooth on one side. Place one layer on a serving plate and brush it generously with a bit of the soaking syrup. Spoon on one or two large dollops of the refrigerated whipped cream (approx. 1/2 cup) and spread evenly. Scatter one-third of the cherries across the cream. Place the next cake layer on top and press down gently. Repeat as with the previous layer with the soaking syrup, whipped cream, and cherries, then do it again with the third layer. Place the final fourth cake layer on the top, making sure the flat side of the layer is face-up. Soak with the remaining syrup and spread the remaining whipped cream all over the top and sides of the cake.
  7. Scatter the grated or curled chocolate on the top and sides as you desire. As a final touch, pipe the firm cream into rosettes around the edge of the top of the cake and place a cherry on top of each rosette. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to three hours. Flavor-wise, the cake is even better the next day, but the whipped cream will droop within a few hours, so for the sake of presentation, serve within hours of assembling.

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What people are saying

  1. Heather says

    I keep coming back to this thinking, “when am I going to make this?!” and had to comment on how good this looks since nobody else did. If the cherries are still in season the next time I go to the market I may give it a go! I hope the lack of comments here does not cause you to stop posting recipes like this occasionally. :)

  2. robyn says

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I feel like it has been ‘wooing’ me for a month and I finally made it tonight! AMAZING! Thank you! It was gorgeous!

  3. Gdaiva says

    Sounds fantastic!! How come there are only 2 comments on this recipe?? Are all your readers off the sugar? Now i feel guilty :)

  4. Lori says

    I’m more than willing to try it. I cook from scratch and out of the garden all the time I will put a day aside for this recipe . Thanks

  5. Courtney says

    This recipe has become my celebratory goal when I finally finish the GAPS diet. I just started the GAPS Intro a few weeks ago, so it may be a year or two before I can make this cake, but I’m already dreaming of it.

    I do have a question regarding the soaking syrup. If honey is used in place of cane sugar, is the 1/3 c water still necessary? I assume you would want to thin the honey, so would you just add water until you reach the desired consistency?

  6. RickH says

    Buttercream filling and icing , with the whipped cream only on top, is one of the original variations, and makes the cake much richer.

  7. sue says

    You should be able to leave out the ‘soaking syrup’ and still have a moist cake. This is very similar to a Sachertorte, a traditional Austrian pastry. Just very lightly brush the top of the layers with 1/2 tablespoon of the Kirsch for flavor. Melt 3 T. cherry preserves about in a saucepan with 1 1/2 T water, and press through a tea strainer, then brush on layers. Let dry, then frost and assemble cake. Once dried, the diluted jam will keep the cream from soaking into the cake and making it soggy.

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