Friday, December 5, 2014

Sacher Torte: Sachertorte Day!

Photo: Hotel Sacher
Today is Sachertorte Day (aka Sacher-torte or Sacher Torte). Sacher Torte is a dense chocolate cake with a layer (s) of apricot jam and coated in chocolate icing, served with unsweetened whipped cream. It's one of the most famous cakes in the world.

According to Hotel Sacher in Vienna, "The original Sacher-Torte has been the most famous cake in the world since 1832 and the original recipe remains a well-kept secret of our hotel. Only the Original Sacher-Torte is produced according to this original recipe. The basis of the entire confection is a chocolate cake, thinly coated by hand with best-quality apricot jam. The chocolate icing on top of it is the crowning glory. It tastes best with a portion of unsweetened whipped cream.

Like many historic stories, the Sacher-Torte was conceived through serendipity when renowned statesman Prince Metternich was hosting a dinner party in 1832. The story goes that he wanted a fabulous dessert for his guests but that his chef was ill. Instead, the 16-year-old chef’s apprentice was given the task. His name was Franz Sacher and that evening he served up his Sacher Torte – a soft, fluffy chocolate cake with apricot jam beneath the icing – to the approval of Metternich’s guests.
After Franz completed his apprenticeship and became a fully qualified cook, he offered his successful experiment to the public once again, this time on a larger scale. He was successful and soon the "cake by this man Sacher" was in great demand, and the victorious career of the most famous of all chocolate cakes truly began. Franz’s son Eduard opened the Sacher Hotel in Vienna in 1876, but that’s another story.

You can still get the 'original' sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna or Salzburg, at the Sacher branches in Innsbruck and Graz and that the Sacher Shop in Bolzano and the Duty Free area of the Vienna airport. The cake is also available online with delivery worldwide. It's really quite exquisite.

The recipe for the Hotel Sacher's version of the cake is a closely guarded secret. Those privy to it claim that the secret to the Sacher Torte's desirability lies not in the ingredients of the cake itself, but rather those of the chocolate icing. According to widely available information, the icing consists of three special types of chocolate, which are produced exclusively by different manufacturers for this sole purpose. The hotel obtains these products from Lübeck in Germany and from Belgium.

Daunting, but as with everything there are many recipes available on the Internet and in cookbooks. As a home baker, I love this easy recipe from Wolfgang Puck. You can always experiment with different chocolate with different amounts of cacao and from different chocolate makers to perfect the flavor. You won't be disappointed, though, in the ease and results of this recipe.

This is Wolfgang Puck's recipe for Sachertorte from the episode: Secrets of Viennese Pastry. Love the addition of apricot brandy



6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3 ounces butter
4 egg yolks
1 ounce sugar, plus 3 ounces
5 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour, sifted

Apricot Filling:
1-1/2 cups apricot preserves
1 Tbsp apricot brandy

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 ounce butter
2 ounces heavy cream or whipped cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 2-inch cake pan.

In a bowl, combine chocolate and butter and melt over double boiler. Set aside to cool. In mixer, using wire attachment, whip egg yolks with 1 ounce sugar until light and ribbony. Beat in chocolate mixture.

In another bowl, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks. Slowly add remaining 3 ounces of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks. Fold in flour and then fold in 1/3 of egg whites into  chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites, gently but thoroughly. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 40 minutes or until done. To check for doneness, insert paring knife in center of cake. It should come out dry. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

To make apricot filling: 
Puree the apricot preserves. Stir in brandy. Slice cake into 3 equal layers. Spread half of apricot filling on bottom layer. Top with second layer of cake. Spread remaining apricot filling and top with last layer of cake. Chill for 30 minutes or more.

To make glaze:
In bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt over double-boiler. Bring cream to boil. Stir into melted chocolate. Cool until reaches glazing consistency. Spread over and around cake. Chill for another 30 minutes before serving.

Serve a slice with thick unsweetened cream or whipped cream.

1 comment:

Wendy Hornsby said...

Thanks, now I know what to serve for dessert with Christmas dinner. I think I can make a gluten free adaptation quite easily.