Black Forest Roll Cake Recipe

My Black Forest roll cake uses a fatless sponge base to make a springy, easy-to-roll sheet of cake that doesn't crack.

Black Forest cake is a German chocolate, cherry and cream cake traditionally made with a little kitsch, but here I've used a little homemade cherry brand instead. You can use ordinary brandy too, or omit the alcohol altogether in this recipe, swapping it for the syrup that the tinned cherries come in.

What I love about roll cakes (also known as Swiss rolls) is they're inherently simple: a sheet of cake rolled up with a filling. They can be super easy to make too. And although my Black Forest roll cake has a few steps to it, it's just as simple: just think of it in three stages: the sponge, the filling and the topping.

You can also watch me make this on my YouTube channel, Tashcakes:

Ready? Let's go.

Ingredients for Cherry Filling:

1 can of black cherries in light syrup
80ml brandy / cherry brandy / kirsch (optional)

Ingredients for Black Forest Roll Cake Sponge:

4 eggs, separated
40g caster sugar
40g self-raising flour
20g cocoa powder
50ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Ingredients for Rest of Filling:

300ml double cream
2 tsp caster sugar

Ingredients for Topping (Optional):

100ml double cream
30g dark chocolate, melted
8 fresh cherries


1. If you don't want boozy cherries, skip this step. If you do, drain your canned cherries and discard the syrup.  Place the cherries in a bowl, pour over the brandy or kirsch, cover with clingfilm and leave to steep at room temperature overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease and line a 26 x 36cm baking tray with vegetable oil and nonstick baking paper.

3. To make the roll cake sponge sheet, beat the egg whites with an electric whisk in a large bowl until they form stiff white peaks. Add in half of the sugar and keep beating until glossy.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar, the flour, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and salt.

5. Take a few tablespoons of the meringue and stir into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it up, then very gently fold in the rest of the egg whites with a spatula or balloon whisk until combined.

6. Pour into the tin, bang the tin on the counter a few times to knock large air bubbles out, and bake for about 15 minutes.

7. Straight after taking it out of the oven, use a butter knife to score around the edges to loosen the cake from the tin. Turn upside down onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely with the tin still on top. This helps keep the cake moist by keeping the steam in.

8. Whisk the 300ml double cream with the 2tsp caster sugar until the cream forms soft peaks.

9. Place the cooled cake sheet onto a large sheet of fresh baking paper, peeling away and discarding the old paper. Place the cake so that you're looking at the 'top' that was exposed to the oven, with the flat side on the bottom. Make a short side of the cake rectangle face you.

10. Using a sharp serrated knife, trim off both short ends at a diagonal, so they slope downwards (only take about 1–2cm off).

11. Drain your cherries, reserving half of the brandy (or 40ml of the syrup in the tin). Brush the top of your cake with the brandy/syrup, and wait a couple of minutes for it to fully soak in.

12. Spread on the cream, making the side nearest to you thicker and only smearing on the thinnest layer of cream at the end.

13. Dot the cherries on top, focussing mostly on the side closest to you. Then roll the cake up away from you, finishing by rolling it in the paper and twisting the sides tightly like a Christmas cracker.

14. Pop in the fridge to let the cream set for at least four hours (or preferably overnight).

15. To finish, remove the paper and plate up your cake. Whip the 100ml cream until it's thick and pipeable, and pipe it in swirls on top. Drizzle over the melted chocolate, and garnish with fresh cherries.

Enjoy, and have fun.


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