The Black Forest Gâteau in the Schwarzwaldregion Belchen

The invention of the Black Forest Gâteau

Who invented the Black Forest Gâteau?

The people of the Black Forest are in no doubt, of course, that they were created somewhere on the hills of the black forest. Here the precious Black Forest cherries grow, from which the wonderful Black Forest Cherry Brandy is produced. The combination of cherries, cream and cherry brandy was known from earliest times in the Southern Black Forest, though not in the form of a cake but rather as a dessert. Cooked cherries were served with cream, occasionally with additional cherry brandy. Then someone had a dark brown sponge base left over and there she was: the goddess in white, red and black.
Black Forest Gâteau
The Black Forest cake, which is supposed to have originated in Switzerland could also have been a predecessor. It was produced from sponge, cherries and nuts often combined with cream, though without cherry brandy. Perhaps this is the result of good cross-border understanding?

The confectioner Josef Keller (1887-1991) claimed that he had invented the cake in 1915 in the former café Agner in Bad Godesberg (today Bonn-Bad Godesberg), which was frequented by prominent people. However, this cannot be proved for certain. This also seems to have been a predecessor as his cake possessed only a base and shortcrust pastry. However, Keller insists that he invented the cherry-cream-chocolate combination as well as the flavouring of the cream with cherry brandy.

Following research work by the Tübinger City Archivist, Udo Rauch, an increasing number of indications show that the Tübingen Master Confectioner Erwin Hildenbrand invented the Black Forest Gâteau in the Café Walz in the spring of 1930. His researches indicate that Hildenbrand worked in the Black Forest (Furtwangen and Freudenstadt) in the 1920s. In addition, there exists a hand written dated photo from 1936, which shows the Master Confectioner making a Black Forest Gâteau.

However, so far no clear proof has been made public either for or against these different possibilities.

In 1934 the Black Forest Gâteau was mentioned for the first time in writing ("250 Confectionery Specialities and How They are Prepared by J.M. Erich Weber, Dresden 1934"). They were known at this time especially in Berlin as well as in the other good cafés in German, Austrian and Swiss cities. In 1949 it was in 13th place in the list of most famous cakes in Germany.
Then, however, its fame grew rapidly. Today it is the most famous and most popular cake in Germany and well known in practically the whole world. However, in many countries some local ingredients at least replace traditional ones or alcohol will be left out.

The gourmet is probably not interested in the arguments behind the paradise mountains of the Black Forest - the connoisseur simply enjoys the cake and keeps quiet.

Further Information

Schwarzwaldregion Belchen - Neustadtstraße 1 - 79677 Schönau im Schwarzwald
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