Black Forest Gateau – Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

The station at Triberg was a little way out of town so we caught a bus with lots of other people into a busy main street full of activity but whatever was going on must have just finished because within only a few minutes Triberg was just as quiet as Villingen.

With more snow today we thought we might visit the waterfall again and climb higher this time but more snow was a problem and the paths were closed even lower down than two days previously so we walked along footpaths under pine trees that would occasionally give up their covering of snow in a dramatic little avalanche that fell on us as we walked along the snow covered trails.

On account of the blizzard the cuckoo clock house was closed and so were most of the other souvenir shops. The Black Forest Museum was open but didn’t look very thrilling and certainly not worth €5 each entrance fee. So we did what we had really come here to do and found the Café Schäfer, which since 1867 is Triberg’s oldest patisserie, for a slice of authentic Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest gateau.

Not only does the Café Schäfer serve Black Forest Gateau but it claims to have invented it. There are alternative conflicting claims about the origin but we were in Triberg in the Black Forest so I am sticking with this one.

The café is where the owner is the son of the apprentice of the chef who first invented the famous cake in 1915 and who continues today to bake to the original recipe and just to prove it there is a photograph of the recipe hanging on the wall.

Waiting for it to be served I was reminded now about dining out in England in the 1970s. There was a chain of steakhouses called the Berni Inn and if you were out to impress this was the place to take a girlfriend on a first date or later on, if the date worked out to any sort of anniversary. If you ever dined at a Berni Inn then for sure you will remember the most popular combination on the menu – Prawn Cocktail, Steak Garni and Black Forest Gateau.

A Berni Inn Black Forest Gateau almost certainly came out of the freezer but here they were clearly freshly baked.

Typically, Black Forest gateau consists of several layers of chocolate sponge cake sandwiched with whipped cream and cherries. It is decorated with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. This all sounds rather straight forward to me but the most important ingredient is kirschwasser, a clear spirit made from sour cherries and in German law any dessert called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte must have kirschwasser.

I am not especially fond of cake but I have to say that it was delicious and lived up completely to expectations, full of dark chocolate sponge layers, juicy morello cherries soaked in the liquor, chocolate shavings that melted in the mouth and lashings of dreamy fresh cream which was quite magnificent and nothing like the grotesque Sarah Lee frozen variety of 1970s bourgeois dinner parties when trying to recreate a Berni Inn feast in our own dining rooms.

After the cake and with the town closed we walked back through the snow bound streets to the station and caught the train back to Offenburg.


24 responses to “Black Forest Gateau – Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

  1. Man I still dream about slices of this cake I had throughout Germany. I’ve never had a slice back home nearly as good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. one of my favorites cakes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We ran out of time in Triberg in 2019, or we would have indulged. And now you’ve made me certain I need to get back to Baden and the Black Forest just to eat cake. Like you, I recall – with a shudder – the Berni Inns version of my childhood. We had one just down the road, and it’s probably the first “restaurant” I ever ate in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I go back I will stay in Freiburg I think.
      Berni Inns were a product of their time. We enjoyed them once.


      • We liked Freiburg very much though we stayed in one of the villages outside. There’s a very good bus/train service these days.

        As to Berni Inns they were indeed a product of their time. I recall prawn cocktails there on a regular basis. Ours was called The Four-in-Hand and last time I was in Hull it was still standing, though obviously not a Berni Inn anymore.


      • Berni sold out to Whitbread .
        The Four-in-Hand is still there.
        When you are up this way we can all meat up for a steak!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t tend to head that way any more, not now that my parents are gone and the house is sold, but you never know!


  4. Kim doesn’t look thrilled with it, but then she’s probably just waiting for you to take the shot so she doesn’t have her mouth full of cake 🙂 I know that expression! Better than standing out there in the snow. I’ll have to share this one, given my reputation for cake eating. I never liked steak so Berni inns were a dubious pleasure for me, but we did go one time. Now where was that, I wonder? Can picture it…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Not only am I not a cake lover, but I don’t go for chocolate. I will always make an exception for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love Black Forest Cake. My German friend’s daughter had it for her wedding cake and it was the best ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah, I used to make Black Forest gateau a lot in the 1980s!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh yes, I remember Berni Inns, and as soon as you said Black Forest Gateau, Sara Lee cakes popped into my head and, sure enough, they got a mention too! Probably all washed down with a nice bottle of Hirondelle.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. That cake does look scrumptious, Andrew. I’m thinking about a thousand calories per bite. –Curt


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