Vegan Black Forest Cake is the best part of chocolate cake with a rich cherry filled and cream frosting. You’ll love the intense flavor and how easy it is to get this together!
Vegan Black Forest Cake appears to just be chocolate cake, but it’s much more!
Traditional black forest cake is a is a chocolate cake with a cherry liqueur filling and whipped frosting and fresh cherries.
If you love cherries and chocolate together, you will absolutely love this dish!
We show you how to make the easiest, yet most delicious vegan black forest cake we can.
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WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THE BEST VEGAN BLACK FOREST CAKE?
Below are notes about the main ingredients before we get into the full recipe located lower in this post on how to make vegan black forest cake:
While this dairy free black forest cake does need what seems to be a lot of ingredients, it’s still an easy cake recipe. In order to make this cake without eggs and without dairy, you need a bit of creativity and chemistry. The end result is so perfect. For this cake you’ll need:
- Dairy Free Milk – Using milk instead of water adds more flavor into the recipe. We have tried this with both oat and almond and there’s not much of a difference honestly. Use either unsweetened plain or unsweetened vanilla flavored milk, but you don’t want any sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Since there are no vegan buttermilks on the market, we use acid to mix with the dairy free milk to make a vegan buttermilk. Acid helps tenderize gluten and therefore making a softer cake.
- Flour – The star of the show, we only used all-purpose flour here because we wanted this recipe to be as accessible as possible for everyone.
- Vegan Cane Sugar – Cane sugar is what we are using. If you want to learn more about why your sugar may not be vegan, you can learn more by clicking on the link.
- Cocoa Powder – Obviously needed to make a delicious black forest cake. You want to use an unsweetened cocoa powder here.
- Cherry Liqueur – black forest cake traditionally has liqueur in order to enhance the flavor even more
- Oil – You want to use a neutral oil – canola or vegetable. Oil helps the moisture in your cake but also helps by slowing down the formation of gluten that yields a very tender and fluffy cake – isn’t that what we all want!
SUBSTITUTIONS AND VARIATIONS:
- Dairy Free Milk – Any dairy free milk that you like can be used in this. The important thing is just not using a sweetened milk in this already sweet recipe.
- Acid – You can use white vinegar or lemon juice if that’s all you have
- Flour – Cake flour could be swapped for all or half of the all-purpose flour. Also an all-purpose or 1:1 gluten free flour could be used.
- Vegan Cane Sugar – While we haven’t tried, you could replace this with a coconut sugar or date sugar
- Cherry Liqueur – You can sub with cherry juice for a non-alcoholic version
- Oil – Melted coconut oil could also be used here and it is normal for it to resolidify when mixing. It will melt back down again when baking. Alternatively, you could use applesauce (same amount) of even half oil, half applesauce if you are trying to reduce your oil consumption.
Tips for how to make the best vegan black forest cake:
See below tips and tricks for making this vegan black forest cake perfect!
- Follow the instructions pretty please. Cake baking is a science, especially when making a dairy free/vegan cake. Every step has a purpose to ensure the perfect vegan black forest cake.
- While we don’t do it in the video or the recipe, if you are not comfortable baking, we highly recommend sifting the ingredients into the bowl. This loosens the ingredients and make sure there are no clumps leading to a more airy cake.
- Make sure to line with parchment paper and grease your pans. No one likes a cake that can’t come out of the pan. It’s one of the most frustrating things and doing these two things will helps.
- Make sure that you evenly distribute the cake batter into the three cake pans. You can use a scale to make sure that they are all within a small range of each other.
- When the cakes are cooked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to allow the cakes to cool evenly.
- Let the cakes cool to touch. DO NOT RUSH. Let it cool completely.
- When ready to make the cake – use a cake leveling tool to make sure there’s no uneven tops.
- Place a small amount of frosting down first on a rotating cake stand, then your first layer. The frosting acts as a glue so the cake won’t slip.
- Use a piping bag and a large round tip and pipe frosting in a circular motion from the outer edge completely in to the middle.
- Use a cake spreader to gently even out layer of frosting. Place next layer and repeat. Step back and see if there is any gaps in between the layers. If there are, place enough frosting in those areas to get frosting to the edge.
- Use a cake scraper to go around the cake and ensure evenness around the entire cake. This step is really important. Place frosting on the top of the cake and more on sides if needed and frost evenly. Using a spreader on the top and the scraper to even evenness.
- Get creative. If you can’t get as smooth as you want or even as you want – you can also add toppings like crushed nuts or chocolate shavings, or drizzle chocolate syrup along the edge so people focus on that. Plus it looks better either way.
- *Bonus Tip: If you want to frosting the cake but keep a clean cake stand, cut four 7″ pieces of wax paper and overlap them before placing the first layer on the cake stand. When you are completely done frosting the cake, carefully remove the four pieces of wax paper.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Absolutely! Did I just make your day? You can swap out the vegan all-purpose flour for Gluten Free Cup for Cup flour. You can also swap out the cake flour with a gluten free version. All the other ingredients that we use in this recipe are naturally gluten free and no swaps are needed.
Besides the flour, that you can use gluten free as recommended above, the only other ingredient is the vegan butter which typically contains soy.
Just choose a soy free vegan butter like Flora Plant Butter. Any dairy free milk can be used that is safe for your allergens.
This vegan black forest cake is rich in chocolate while still remaining moist. The right amount of fat (oil) combined with making our own dairy free buttermilk (acid) and adding in leavening agents (baking soda and baking powder) all act together to insure this will not be a dry vegan black forest cake.
Also, the importance of minimally processing the ingredients together. We only mix until combined. We do this because the longer you mix flour, the more gluten forms making for a not so great cake.
You can absolutely make this into dairy free black forest cupcakes. Simply make the recipe as normal and then instead of greasing cake pans, spray a cupcake pan or liners. Fill each one up ¾ of the way. You’ll want to reduce the cooking time to 15-20 minutes.
By adding some acid to your batter, you are creating a vegan cake that is moist and delicious. It helps to break down the tough gluten strands, yielding in the most delicious vegan cake recipe. Don’t skip this step!
Yes. You can make this oil free. Replace the full amount of oil for applesauce. It is very important to know that using applesauce does lead to a more dense cake.
A vegan black forest cake is better for animals and the environment; however, we still use flour, sugar, and oil in this recipe. We are not claiming that this is a healthier alternative to a cake that contains dairy based milk and traditional eggs.
We’ll let you in on a little secret. You can’t even tell the difference. In fact, we’ve served vegan cake to many non-vegans and they had no idea!
Make a homemade whipped topping doesn’t hold up as well, so we went with a vegan whipped frosting so it’s thicker and can last longer. You could use a store bought whipped topping if eating immediately, but even that won’t last long before melting so keep that in mind.
This would be entirely up to the parents. There is liqueur which contains alcohol in the part of the cake that is not baked (brushed on after baking). That means that the full amount of alcohol stays in the cake. However, it is minimal as it’s only ¼ cup of liqueur over 3 layers of cake. You can see substitutions below.
You can sub the cherry liqueur with cherry juice or even just omit or use another flavored juice.
What does bloom the chocolate mean?
When you get to the step about boiling the water and adding, you may be tempted to skip that step, but don’t. It’s very critical to do so in order to make this perfect vegan black forest cake.
You add the boiling water in order to help the cocoa power “bloom”. When cocoa powder is mixed with a hot liquid (you can do this with water, coffee, milks, etc) it allows the powder to dissolves and release flavor particles. Essentially, it brings out all the flavor in the cocoa powder, ensuring you have the best vegan black forest cake ever.
What if I only want a 1 layer vegan black forest cake?
We know that not everyone has the desire to make a layered cake. Fortunately, we have great news! You don’t have too and we have two options for you!
First – you can make the recipe as directed and then freeze one layer so you have a cake already ready the next time you want cake. We’d recommend eating within 3 months of freezing. To do this, when the cakes are cooled to touch but still slightly warm, remove from the pans and wrap them with plastic wrap. Wrapping them while warm allows the moisture to continue to stay inside the cake and not be dry. Place in a freezer safe container or bag after wrapping in foil.
Alternatively, you could just reduce all the ingredients in half to only make one layer.
Can I make this a sheet pan cake instead?
Yes! You can use a 9×13 cake pan in order to make this cake. The batter should work well to fill the cake pan but keep in mind that you should not fill the cake more than ¾ way full. If you have too much you can use for mini cupcakes!
What other frosting ideas could I use on this vegan black forest cake?
Some ideas for how to frosting a dairy free black forest cake are:
- Using Dairy Free Whipped Topping (Homemade “Cool Whip”)
- Vegan Vanilla Frosting
- Vegan Strawberry Frosting
- Vegan Buttercream Frosting
What are other dairy free chocolate desserts I can make?
Whether you are having a chocolate bar of delicious at your next get together, or you just want to have even more amazing chocolate dairy free desserts, we recommend you trying out some of these delicious non-dairy desserts:
- Vegan Brownies
- No Bake Vegan Chocolate Fudge
- Vegan Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake
- No Bake Vegan Smores Bars with Dark Chocolate Mousse
- Vegan Chocolate Cookies and Cream Milkshake
- Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pin this vegan black forest cake for later!
Vegan Black Forest Cake
For the Cake
For the Frosting
Cherry Liqueur Syrup
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup cherry liqueur (sub with cherry juice for non-alcoholic version)
- 2 ½ cups pitted dark cherries, fresh (preferred) or frozen (thawed first)
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350F and prep three 8″ cake pans (or 2 9" pans for 2 layers) with nonstick spray or vegan butter and parchment paper.
- Combine dairy free milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract to make vegan buttermilk. Set aside.
- Use a large bowl and hand whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Next add oil and vegan buttermilk (vinegar, vanilla and dairy free milk mixture). Mix with a spatula until just combined.
- Pour in boiling hot water into the batter and carefully stir to combine. Batter will be loose and thin but this is 100% supposed to be this way.
- Evenly split up the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake them together for about 33 – 37 minutes (start checking at 30 minutes) or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes in the pans, then remove and let cool to room temp before frosting.
For the Frosting
- In a large bowl cream together butter and coconut cream. Add salt and beat again.
- Add ½ cup of powdered sugar at a time, beating between each addition. Check consistency -If too thick add 1 tablespoon of coconut milk at a time until it's thick but spreadable. Otherwise, pour in vanilla and beat on high for 30 seconds.
For the Syrup
- And sugar and water to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Let It come to a boil.
- Boil for one minute, then remove from heat. Add liqueur and stir together.
- Place one layer of cake down. Brush the top with ⅓ of the syrup. Add ⅓ of your frosting on top and then push ⅓ of the cherries into the top of the frosting. Repeat with remaining layers.
- Decorate the top with more cherries and/or shaved chocolate as desired.