This White Forest Cake has fluffy vanilla cake layers filled with whipped white chocolate ganache and a cherry kirsch sauce. Frost the cake in a cream cheese buttercream frosting and decorate with fresh cherries for the most beautiful summer cake!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Cherry Kirsch Sauce – This cake is filled with a homemade cherry sauce that uses the traditional kirsch liqueur!
- Whipped White Chocolate Ganache – This adds an unexpected pop of flavor to the cake filling. This is a traditional Black Forest Cake for white chocolate lovers!
- White Cake Layers – Fluffy white cake layers are moist and full of flavor.
- Butter – I prefer salted butter, but you can use unsalted if that’s your preference.
- Eggs – Use large eggs. Be sure they are at room temperature.
- Milk – I used 2% milk. Make sure this is at room temperature.
- Sour Cream – Use full-fat for the best results.
- Cake Flour – Cake flour gives this cake a lighter, more tender crumb than all-purpose flour, so I highly recommend using cake flour here.
- Vanilla Extract – Since the flavor in this cake comes from simple quality ingredients, be sure to use real vanilla instead of imitation for the best flavor.
- Vegetable Oil – Using a combination of oil and butter gives this cake the best of both worlds – oil keeps the cake tender and moist, and butter adds flavor. –
- Sour Cream – Full fat greek yogurt will work in place of the sour cream
- Frozen Cherries – You can use fresh or frozen dark sweet cherries.
- Kirsch – You can omit the kirsch liqueur from the cherry sauce if needed.
How to Make this Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Cream together the butter and vegetable oil. Then, beat in the granulated sugar for two full minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing between each until just combined.
Step 2: Add the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until just combined. That’s key with each addition here – over mixing the batter will lead to a dense cake. Slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low. Then, slowly repeat with the milk. Divide the batter between the cake pans, and bake.
Step 3: Make the Cherry Kirsch Sauce while your cakes bake and cool. Heat cherries, sugar, kirsch, and almond extract in a saucepan, adding a cornstarch slurry towards the end to thicken the sauce.
Step 4: Make the Whipped White Chocolate Ganache once you’re ready to assemble the cake – it cannot be made ahead. Stir simmering heavy cream into chopped white chocolate, then pop it in the freezer, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until it’s no longer runny, but not solid. Then, beat it with your mixer for a few minutes to whip it!
Step 5: Assemble your cake by frosting the bottom layer with an even layer of whipped white chocolate ganache. Pipe a border of the vanilla frosting around the cake layer, and fill with the cherry sauce. Repeat this with the 2nd layer, then add the final layer.
Step 6: Apply a light layer of frosting all over the cake for a naked cake look. Chill for at least 30-40 minutes before serving!
Expert Success Tips:
- Cold Ingredients – Be sure to let the cold ingredients all come to room temperature as indicated in the recipe. This is absolutely essential for the best texture and results.
- Mixing – Mix the ingredients for the cake batter as directed – if it says 2 minutes, set a timer for 2 minutes. This really does affect the final texture of the cake.
- Cornstarch – Be sure to dissolve your cornstarch into the water before adding to the cherry mixture as directed, or you’ll have white chunks in your cherry sauce.
- Tart Cherries – You can use tart or sour cherries instead of dark cherries if that’s your preference. You may need to adjust the sugar in the cherry sauce to taste.
- Cake Mix – In a pinch, you can use a white cake mix and then make the remaining elements from the recipe card below for your cake.
- Cherry Pie Filling – Substitute a can of cherry pie filling for the homemade cherry filling in a pinch.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
The cake layers can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Let them cool completely at room temperature, then place each layer on a large plate and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature until ready to frost. I recommend making the frosting day-of. The entire frosted cake can be chilled up to 24 hours in advance of serving. This cake is best within the first 3 days or so.
- Offset Spatula – Offset spatulas make frosting a cake so easy! They can also be used for spreading cake and brownie batters evenly.
- Cake Turntable – If you make at least a few cakes a year, a cake turntable makes the frosting process a breeze!
- Piping Bag & Piping Tip – I like to use a reusable piping bag and a Wilton 1A or 2A piping tip, but you can use a plastic bag with the corner snipped off in a pinch.
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White Forest Cake
For the Cherry Kirsch Sauce
- 3 cups cherries
- 6 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3.4 tsp almond extract
- 2 tbsp kirsch
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp water
For the White Cake Layers
- 3 and 2/3 cup cake flour, spooned & leveled 400 grams
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp salted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil 100 mL
- 2 and 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 7 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
For the Whipped White Chocolate Ganache
- 16 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped Use a good quality baking bar like ghirardelli or baker's
- 7 ounces heavy cream
For the Frosting
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 25 tbsp butter
- 4 and 1/2 cups + 1 to 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 2 and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp almond extract
- pinch of salt
- Prep: Make sure all cold ingredients have come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350° F. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans. Use a paper towel to rub shortening all over the inside of each pan, coating them evenly and completely. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside each (tracing is the easiest way). Place this on top of the greased pan bottom, then grease over the parchment paper as well. Add a handful of flour, and tap the pan around to evenly coat the entire inside with flour, tapping out the excess.
- Make the Cherry Sauce: Stir water and corn starch together in a small bowl until the starch is fully dissolved. Rinse, pit, and halve the cherries. If using frozen, do not thaw them. Add cherries to a medium saucepan with the sugar, almond extract, and kirsch. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring lazily, until the cherries have released their juices and softened. Re-stir the cornstarch (it will have settled some), then stir it into the cherry sauce. Cook 30 seconds to 1 minute more, stirring constantly, until the sauce gently thickens. It should separate and hold when you drag your finger through the sauce on the back of a wooden spoon. Transfer immediately to a shallow bowl and chill in the fridge completely before using.
- Make the Cake Batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with a hand mixer for about 30 seconds, until creamy. Add the vegetable oil and cream together with the butter for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 full minutes. The mixture will be fluffy. Add the egg whites, two at a time and then the last one on its own, beating on medium low speed between each addition, until just combined. Don't over mix! Add the sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract and mix in on medium low speed until just combined.Slowly pour in the dry ingredients with the mixer running on low speed. Mix just until the last streaks of flour are disappearing into the batter, then turn off the mixer and use a spatula to make sure everything is folded in. Finally, slowly pour in the milk while the mixer runs on low speed. Mix until just combined – don't over mix!
- Bake: Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. (You can eyeball this or use a kitchen scale to help with precision.)Bake the cakes, the first two pans together, and then the 3rd pan on its own after the first two are done. This will ensure the most even bake. Bake the cakes for 22-26 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center will pull out moist crumbs and the cakes shouldn't jiggle in the center when you move the pan.Let cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, invert onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting and assembling.
- Make the Whipped White Chocolate Ganache: Add the finely chopped white chocolate to a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour over the white chocolate, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until completely smooth – microwave in 10 second intervals if any lumps remain. Pop this in the fridge or freezer to thicken, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until it's stiff but not solid (see photos above). Make the frosting during this time. Once the white chocolate is ready, beat it with an electric mixer on high speed for about 2 minutes to whip the ganache.
- Make the Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese on high for 3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar in 3 additions, mixing until smooth between each. Add the vanilla, almond extract, and a pinch of salt and mix. Taste and adjust the almond or vanilla as desired.
- Assemble & Frost the Cake: Place the first cake layer on a cake stand protected with wax paper strips, or a turntable. (A turntable is the easiest!) Use half the whipped white chocolate ganache to top the first layer, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Pipe a border of frosting around the cake layer and fill with half the cherry filling. Place the second cake layer on top and chill for 5-10 minutes to set things so the layers don't slide around. Repeat with the second layer. Add the final layer and give the cake a thin layer of frosting on top and on the sides. Use a cake scraper to smooth out and remove excess frosting. This is your crumb coat, so don't fret if it isn't perfect. Pop the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes or until the frosting is set. Then, apply the remaining frosting, using the cake scraper to smooth the top and sides of the cake. Continue scraping the frosting off to achieve the naked cake look, or frost the outside more fully if desired. Chill the entire cake in the fridge for 30 minutes, or until the frosting is set before covering it (with plastic wrap or a cake lid) or serving it.Tip: If your frosting is getting too soft at any point from sitting out, pop it back in the fridge for a bit to firm back up.
- Serve + Store: Decorate the top of the cake with fresh cherries and white chocolate shavings. Serve the cake once it's chilled as directed above. Slice into as many slices as desired! Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the fridge for 2-3 days. The cake will naturally start to dry out a bit once it's been cut and put back in the fridge, so just be sure to seal and store it tightly.
- Make Ahead Tips: The cake layers can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Let cool completely then place each layer on a large dinner plate or a cookie sheet and plastic wrap tightly to seal. Store at room temp, then frost the next day.Cherry sauce can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Don't make the white chocolate ganache ahead. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before slicing and serving.
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