Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser (Kirsch)
Photo by Mahlum
Girl in Bollenhut costume 1890-1905
OTHER NAMES: Black Forest Cherry Torte, Black Forest Gateau, (British English) Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (in German)
The name of Black Forest Cake is named after the Black Forest area in Southwest Germany, which produces a specialty liquor known as cherry schnapps, Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser, or shorten as Kirsch.  A Black Forest Cake is consisted of chocolate sponge cake (or Gateau style) soaked with Kirsch, then filled and covered with whipped cream, cherries and chocolate shavings. 
Black Forest Cake tastes like chocolate cake flavored with Kirsch. Along with whipped cream filling, the cake is soft and moist.
Many historians predict that Black Forest Cake was very likely to be invented in the late 16th century in the Black Forest Region (Der Schwarzwald in German) located in the state of Baden-Württemberg.  Since the region is known for its sour cherries and Kirsch, (a double distilled, clear cherry brandy made from the sour Morello cherry) there were many existed cherries and Kirsch recipes already.
During early 16th century, chocolate was introduced to Europe by Columbus. Within a century, the use of chocolate was spread throughout Europe and integrated into many European recipes, especially cakes and cookies.  Black Forest cake could be the final dessert that combines the local Black Forest cherries and Kirsch with the new ingredient chocolate. 
Unfortunately, there was no evidence in the true origin of Black Forest Cake and it rises many questions and theories. Some think it was actually originated from a dessert that was made in the region that combined cream, cherries, and Kirsch. Some think the cake was invented by a Dutchman who settled near the region of Black Forest. 
It is also interesting to note that Black Forest Cake may have got its signature appearance by the Bollenhut, a traditional lady costume from nearby Black Forest villages since 1750.  As you can see from photo, one can imagine the frosting being the blouse, chocolate shavings as the dress, and cherries as the red pompom hat.  Or, if the cake already existed before 1750, this traditional costume may have created to resemble the ingredients of Forest Black Cake.
Although there are so many assumptions and theories, there was no written recipe of the cake until recent time. There are two different claims as to who made "the first Black Forest Cake." One was by Josef Keller, a pastry chef of a cafe in Bad Godesberg, West Germany. He claimed to create the first Black Forest Cake with his recipe called “Schwarzwaelder Kirsch”, or “Black Forest Cherry” that was recorded in 1915. Another was recorded in a 1934 recipe book called "250 Cake - Specialty And How They Are Created" by JM Erich Weber. 
During the 1940s, Black Forest cake immediate caught attention by many dessert lovers and became the 13th place on a list of favorite German cakes in 1949.  The cake became popular globally throughout Europe and Asia. There is even a National Black Forest Cake Day in America, which is on the day of March 28. 
On July 16 2006, the world's largest authentic black forest cake was set at Europa Park, Germany.  It measures nearly 10m in diameter, weighing 3,000 kg, and used up 700L of cream, 5,600 eggs, 800 kg of cherries, 40 kg of chocolate shavings and 120l of Kirsch. 
Traditionally, kirsch is added to the cake; however, rum is commonly used in Austrian recipes. American recipes tend to omit the alcohol to make the cake more family-friendly. 
Pre-made an unleavened chocolate cake and slice in 4 layers after cool. (Or, make 4 individual cakes) Prepare Kirsch syrup, whipped cream (or butter cream), cherries, chocolate shavings, and other decoration.
To assemble a Black Forest Cake, place the first layer of cake on a cake plate. Brush 1/3 of Kirsch syrup on cake, and spread a layer of cream. Add cherries evenly on top of cream. Place second layer of cake and repeat. Do the same for the third layer. Lastly, place the fourth layer of cake and brush the rest of Kirsch syrup. Cover the entire cake with cream.
Before serving, refrigerate the cake for several hours or overnight. Right before serving, decorate the cake with cream, cherries, chocolate shavings, and other toppings.
Chocolate cake/genoise (flour, egg, sugar, cocoa powder, butter), Kirsch, cherries, whipped cream frosting, chocolate shavings.
Alcohol: Rum, Cherry Brandy
RECIPE 1: http://www.europeancuisines.com/
RECIPE 2: http://www.joyofbaking.com/
The word, cake, is of Viking origin, from the Old Norse word "kaka".  The Oxford English Dictionary traces the English word cake back to the 13th century. In other languages, cake is translated to Gateau (Gateaux in plural) in French and Torte in German. 
Cakes can be savory or sweet, light or rich, porous or dense. Determining whether a given food should be classified as bread, cake, or pastry can be difficult.  For example, banana bread is a quick bread, but it has a texture of a cake and uses same ingredients as if a cake would have. There are many dispute on what category these desserts should be classified, but why don't we simply enjoy these goodies!
The earliest cakes were very different from what we have today. They were more like bread and usually made with simple ingredients like moistened crushed grains or nuts.  In Ancient Egypt, emmer and barley were used to make cakes, breads, and beer. Only the wealthy can enjoy cakes made with milled flour. There was no sugar at that time so honey was the primary sweetener. Sometimes, nuts and fruits like dates were added in the recipe too. 
Cakes covering with icing were first introduced in Europe around mid-17th century when cooking tools were more advanced and more ingredients were available. Icing was first made with only sugar and egg whites. 
Cakes were not only a meal or dessert to enjoy, it was used as symbols and representation for religious ceremonies and occasions celebrations from ancient times. Starting from at least the 8th century BC China, it was already a tradition to eat rice cakes during Chinese New Year for bringing good luck in the coming year. 
The first known birthday cake was recorded in the first century BCE from the book, Tristia, written by Latin poet Ovid. From his book, Ovid mentioned about celebrating his birthday with a birthday party and cake.  Today, cakes still play an important role in family gatherings, holiday celebrations, and ceremonial occasions like weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.
In different cultures and regions, different cakes are made to celebrate the same holiday. For example, fruitcake is the Christmas cake consumed in France, Germany, and United States. In Japan, a frosted sponge cake with strawberries are more common during Christmas times.