Vegan Black Forest Cake (Gateau) (GF-Option)

A rich and decadent chocolate cake filled with a creamy coconut whip (or luscious buttercream) and juicy cherry compote topped with a simple chocolate ganache and fresh cherries. This cake is easy to make and is great for special occasions.

This cake was such a pleasure and a joy to make and photograph – it combines a few of my favourite things! I also loved it even more as this decoration was more of a test run for a cake I made for a friend of a friend for her birthday. She requested a Black Forest Gateau so that’s what I set out to do! 

Vegan Black Forest Cake
Vegan Black Forest Cake

For as much as I love chocolate, I don’t often make chocolate cake and this Vegan Black Forest Cake was a great excuse to practice that. The cake is light and a good moist crumb but it holds its shape well with the weight of the ganache and cherries on top. For ease and time, I always bake my cakes the night before and then they are ready to go in the morning – if not, just allow a couple of hours for the cakes to cool fully before you frost and decorate them.

Here are the ingredients for the Vegan Black Forest Cake:

  • Plant-based milk: this adds liquid and acts as a binder when mixed with the lemon juice. Any plant-based milk will work here.
  • Lemon juice: this helps to curdle the milk, forming a binding “buttermilk” for the cake. You could also use apple cider vinegar which behaves in a similar way.
  • Water: I used to find it odd to add water to cakes but with all the rich chocolate, this keeps the cake light and moist without being too rich.
  • Coffee: this is optional as not everyone tolerates coffee well, but it adds to the intensity of the chocolate flavours.
  • Sunflower oil: for cakes and bakes, I like to use liquid oils to keep the texture really light. You could also use a light olive oil for example. I haven’t tried it with any other oils.
  • Coconut sugar: or golden or white caster sugar would also work.
  • Vanilla essence: for flavour, if you don’t have any you can leave it out.
  • Plain flour: this keeps the Vegan Black Forest Gateau Cake light and airy while holding it’s shape. I can imagine spelt or wholemeal flour would work with slightly denser results and a 1:1 baking GF blend may work, too, as long as there is xantam gum to bind the batter.
  • Cacao powder: for chocolate cakes, this is essential and while it acts as the chocolate flavour it also acts as a sort of flour as it adds a lot of richness.
  • Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda: for the rise.
Vegan Black Forest Cake
Vegan Black Forest Cake
Vegan Black Forest Cake
Vegan Black Forest Cake

Stir, whisk and then bake all of the above ingredients in 2 tins to make the two halves for this Vegan Black Forest Cake. They only take about half an hour to bake, use the skewer test to check that they are done. Then allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin. It is really important that the cakes cool fully before moving on to the filling and decorating stages. If pushed for time, pop the cakes in the fridge to speed up the process.

I have given you two filling options for this Vegan Black Forest Cake and both work really well. I am currently on a bit of coconut whip high after discovering the BEST coconut whipping cream from Natures Charm. All you have to do is chill the tin, empty the entire contents into a bowl and whip for a few minutes. The cream is so fluffy but sturdy and naturally sweet enough. It has binding agents within the cream, meaning you can use the whole tin and it works every time.

The two filling options are:

  • Coconut Whip: I used the above-mentioned Natures Charm coconut whip found here which I really recommend but you can also use the solid part from a chilled tin of coconut milk (you may need 2 tins) and beat those. 
  • Vanilla Buttercream: this is also so delicious, and a bit sweeter than the coconut whip. Like any good buttercream, it’s a blend of vegan butter, icing sugar, plant-based milk and vanilla essence.

Whichever filling you choose; they are both delicious and make a great filling for this Vegan Black Forest Cake. For the cherry middle, I used a cherry compote from the shops, but you could use fresh pitted cherries of cherry jam. Sandwich the second cake on top and then time for the chocolate ganache.

Vegan Black Forest Cake
Vegan Black Forest Cake
Vegan Black Forest Cake
Vegan Black Forest Cake

This is such a fun part of the cake decorating process and even making this a few times with different brands of chocolate, each ganache will differ slightly. There are only two ingredients:

  • Dark chocolate: or any dairy-free chocolate but dark is more traditional for a Black Forest Gateau. Break up the chocolate into a bowl.
  • Vegan butter: it is important to use vegan butter and not margarine or spread as the butter is firmer once cool, making the ganache firmer and shinier, too. Melt the butter and then pour over the chocolate, allowing it to melt the chocolate fully.

With the melted chocolate and butter mix, pour this over the top of the cake, spreading it right to the edges so that it drips down. Now place in the fridge for the ganache to set, and you get the lovely chocolate drips. The final step is to top the cake with extra coconut whip or buttercream and fresh cherries.

Slice this Vegan Black Forest Cake and serve to family and friends with a cup of tea or coffee for a luscious, intense and decadent slice of cake. It is light and moist, rich and indulgent while the fresh filling and fruit keep this cake easy to demolish. The cake is naturally vegan with gluten-free options and comes together in just a few steps!

I hope you will enjoy making this for birthdays, special occasions and get togethers as it really is an impressive cake to bring to the table. If you are looking for more cake ideas, how about my:

Vegan Black Forest Cake (GF-Option)

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A rich and decadent chocolate cake filled with a creamy coconut whip (or luscious buttercream) and juicy cherry compote topped with a simple chocolate ganache and fresh cherries. This cake is easy to make and is great for special occasions.


    Chocolate Cake:
  • 240ml plant-based milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 240ml water (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp coffee, optional
  • 160ml sunflower oil
  • 125g coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 350g plain or GF flour
  • 100g cacao powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Filling:
  • 170g cherry jam or compote
  • 400ml coconut whipping cream
  • OR:
  • 100g vegan butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp plant-based milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Ganache:
  • 150g dark chocolate, broken up
  • 60g vegan butter
  • To serve:
  • Fresh cherries
  • Chopped chocolate


  1. If making the coconut whip filling, refrigerate the coconut whipping cream overnight. Preheat the oven to 160Fan/180*C and grease and line two 20cm cake tins with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and lemon juice and leave for 5 minutes to curdle. Now whisk in the water, coffee, sunflower oil, sugar and vanilla essence.
  3. Now sift in the plain flour, cacao powder and baking powder. Pour in the salt and whisk to a thick batter.
  4. Divide between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. You may want to cover the cakes after 25 minutes with foil.
  5. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  6. If you are making the coconut whip: add the contents of the coconut whipping cream to a mixing bowl and whisk on high speed with a handheld electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.
  7. If you are making the buttercream: using a food processor/standing mixer or hand-whisk, beat the butter until fluffy then gradually add in the icing sugar, vanilla and plant-based milk and continue to beat until really light and fluffy.
  8. Add the dark chocolate to a heat-proof bowl and melt the butter. Pour the butter over the chocolate and whisk/stir to melt the chocolate fully (if needed, pop in the microwave for 10 second intervals to help this process).
  9. Slice off the tops of the cakes to make the tops flat (save this to eat later). Take the bottom cake and spoon over most of the whipped coconut cream or buttercream (save some for the top) and spread over the cherry compote/jam. Now top with the second cake and pour over the chocolate ganache, spreading it to the edges and allowing it to drip down. Place in the fridge for 5 minutes.
  10. Pipe on the leftover whipped coconut cream or buttercream and decorate with fresh cherries and chopped chocolate. Store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Store un-iced and un-filled cakes in the freezer for 1 month.
Vegan Black Forest Cake
Vegan Black Forest Cake

I look forward to hearing what you think of this Vegan Black Forest Cake and cannot wait to see your creations. So, please leave a comment below and tag me in your bakes – I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With Black Forest Gateau love x

  1. […] A rich and decadent chocolate cake filled with a creamy coconut whip (or luscious buttercream) and juicy cherry compote topped with a simple chocolate ganache and fresh cherries. This cake is easy to make and is great for special occasions. Recipe HERE […]

  2. Geri Lawhon says:

    Thanks for posting a gluten free version.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey is the batter supposed to be really thick

    • Hi there, I am so glad you’re making it and yes the batter is quite thick, but if you think it’s too thick to pour, thin it out with a splash of plant milk!

  4. Hey Amy. All of your cakes 🍰 always looks so divine and love the flavours! I so love 💕 cherries 🍒 and chocolate 🍫 wow what a combo. Splendid photography as always and saved to my WordPress saved collection

  5. Hope you and your family are good 😌 my dog 🐶 B says woofs

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