Gluten Free Black Forest Cake

gluten free black forest cake

Cherries and chocolate meld together in perfect harmony in this sumptuous, gluten free chocolate cake laced with kirsch soaked cherries and cherry syrup. The whipped buttercream is light and creamy and far less sweet than traditional frosting, making it a perfect counterpart for the richness of the cake.

Celebration • sweet treat • summer

Gluten Free Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake is a classic.

Decidedly retro, the ones I have most often come across in my life have been of the garish variety; think neon red Maraschino cherries perched atop stiff spires of aerosol whipped cream (the type sprayed out of a can). They tasted sickly sweet and laced with so much alcohol that they probably posed a fire hazard. So seventies it hurts.

It’s a shame, because in theory, Black Forest is such an ingenious combination of ingredients and flavors. Chocolate, cherry, brandy …softly whipped cream — I mean, what’s not to like? It’s not the cake’s fault that the seventies happened to it. The seventies happened to a lot of people, including my parents, and they somehow came out the other end.

This is why it’s so pleasing to see it making a comeback, pared down and elegantly simplified to suit our more wholesome modern tastes.


This cake has all the Black Forest components — rich, decadent chocolate sponge, a hint of kirsch and supple pockets of syrup soaked cherries — but a far more rustic and homely approach. I tend not to like cakes that scream at me…but rather those that beckon softly. I don’t want to be assaulted, but to be invited. This cake positively whispers to you. You come close and it exhales a breath of brandy and dark cherry so intoxicating you almost swoon. The cake itself is tender and — dare I say it— moist and so deeply chocolatey that you really have to be sitting down to eat it.

The brandied cherries may seem somewhat of a bother but they really don’t take all that much effort to make (aside from the pitting…I really must buy a cherry pitter). The best part is you can make up a big batch and have enough cherries to get you through the dark days of winter. Aside from cakes, they are also delicious spooned over vanilla ice cream or used to garnish a Manhattan. They will last forever in the fridge, but I’m sure you’ll use them up long before they have a chance to prove their claims of longevity.

gluten free black forest cake

Finally, the frosting. I love a chocolate cake with a light and creamy vanilla frosting but I find most buttercreams to be cloyingly sweet. You eat one slice and then feel sick for the rest of the afternoon. This should not have to happen! This buttercream uses a slight cheat to cut the amount of sugar down drastically, resulting in a light, fluffy frosting that is just sweet enough and won’t cause any sugar hangovers. If you wanted something even less sweet, whipped cream (though not from a can, thank you) would also be appropriate.

As always, do let me know how it turns out for you if you make it. Also, those adorable black and white flags are from my friend Bea’s new stationary company Bea Co. They come in other colors too!

gluten free black forest cake

Gluten Free Black Forest Cake

Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes


Serves 4 - 6

For the kirsch cherries:

  • 1 cup (225 g) pitted dark cherries

  • 3/4 cup (177 ml) water

  • 1/4 cup (56 g) kirsch

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) coconut sugar

For the cake:

  • 1 cup (150 g) coconut sugar

  • 1 1/3 cup (150 g) almond flour

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (100 g) brown rice flour

  • 1/2 cup (60 g) cocoa powder

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 3/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/2 cup (115 ml) kirsch syrup from cherries

  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) milk

  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) kirsch soaked cherries, finely chopped

For the whipped buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) milk of choice

  • 1/8 cup (20 g) brown rice flour

  • 1/2 cup (115 g) organic butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) organic cane sugar

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/8 tsp salt


For the kirsch cherries:

  • Place the pitted cherries in a saucepan with the 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pan and gently simmer the cherries for about 10 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

  • Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon to a clean pint jar and cover with the kirsch.

  • Add the 1/2 cup of coconut sugar to the liquid remaining in the pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the liquid by about half and then remove from the heat.

  • Pour the liquid over the cherries, cap tightly and store in the fridge until ready to use. The cherries will keep almost indefinitely.

For the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350f (180c). Grease a circular 8 inch cake tin with 3 inch high sides and line the bottom with parchment paper.

  • In a large bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, flours, baking powder and soda, cocoa powder and salt.

  • Make a well in the center of the mix and add the kirsch syrup, milk, and eggs. Mix until you have formed a smooth batter.

  • Fold in the chopped cherries and then pour the mixture into your prepared tin.

  • Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges of the cake are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Try not to open the oven until the baking time is nearly complete as the sudden heat loss can cause the cake to fall slightly. It isn’t the end of the world if it does, but good to prevent if possible.

  • Allow the cake to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the tin. Cool completely before icing.

For the whipped buttercream:

  • In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of the milk with the flour, whisking until you have no lumps. Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk to the mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to cook for a few minutes, whisking all the time, until the mixture starts to thicken.

  • Once thickened, remove from pan from the heat, continuing to stir for an additional minute. Then scrape the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. You can also pop it in the fridge for about 15 - 20 minutes to speed the process.

  • While the flour and milk mixture is cooling, cream the butter on medium speed until soft. Add the sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 5 - 7 minutes.

  • With the mixer on low, slowly add the milk mixture to the sugar and butter mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt to combine.

To assemble:

  • Spread a generous layer of frosting over the top of the cake. Decorate with fresh cherries or serve as is.

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Deep 8 inch cake pan

Brown Rice FLour:

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