One look at this cake and its decadence is evident: every bite will unleash layers of chocolatey goodness. We are, of course, referring to the Black Forest Cake from Germany, one of the most popular and beloved cakes around the globe. The lavish dessert is also known as Black Forest gateau.
The traditional version consists of multiple layers of chocolate sponge cake with whipped cream and cherries, covered on each side with whipped cream and chocolate chips, as well as with cherries on top.
Traditionally, the recipe includes Kirschwasser, also known as 'Kirsch', a type of cherry liqueur similar to brandy.
Black Forest Cake: History
The dessert made its first 'official' appearance in a cooking text during the 1930s and began to enjoy much popularity after World War II. However, there are several stories that trace the origins of the Black Forest Cake.
Some historians say that the cake dates back to the 1500s, when chocolate first became available in Europe. More specifically, its birthplace would have been the Black Forest region of Germany, which is known for its sour cherries and kirschwasser. Many would pinpoint the even more exact location of the mountainous Baden-Württemberg region, where cherry trees planted by newly married couples abound.
Others argue that the cake bears the name Black Forest not because that is where it is invented, but because it resembles the bollenhut costumes with red pom-poms that women use for traditional dances there. Still others say that the Black Forest name is more metaphorical, with the cake evoking the dark, loamy moisture of the deep, shady forest. The most modern of all the origin stories is that of Josef Keller, manager of the Café Agner in Bad Godesberg - once an independent municipality and now included in the urban district of Bonn. Keller reportedly invented this cake at his restaurant in 1915.
Black Forest Cake: Where To Find It
Naturally, Black Forest cake is popular in Germany but it is also considered a traditional dessert in Austria, Switzerland and Italy (especially in the northern region of Trentino Alto Adige).
Practically identical in its appearance, in these countries the Black Forest cake is prepared with few, if any, variations: in all three it is very common to use dark wild cherries (which are a bit sour in flavour).
One differentiating feature is the use of Kirsch. This alcoholic ingredient can be replaced by rum - especially in the version prepared in neighbouring Austria - or directly omitted (as happens in certain Swiss and Südtirol regions).
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