The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the classic European-style chocolate cake: the Austrian Sachertorte. It is an elegant chocolate cake filled with tangy apricot jam, covered with a smooth, fudge-like chocolate glaze, and decorated with chocolate piping and the word “Sacher” written across the top. Each slice is served with a generous portion of schlag/unsweetened whipped cream to balance the sweetness and texture of the Sachertorte.
The Sachertorte was first created in Austria in 1832 when Prince Metternich requested a fancy dessert for his dinner guests. His pastry chef was ill that night, so the task fell to the apprentice, Franz Sacher, who came up with the now famous cake that bears his name. Franz built a career on that cake, and his son Eduard later opened the Sacher Hotel in Vienna where Franz’s cake, made according to the hotel’s original and closely-guarded secret recipe, is served to this day. The cake is so popular in Vienna that it has become an integral part of the city’s kaffeehaus tradition.
For the Cake
¾ cup (180 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
9 tablespoons (135 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) unsalted butter, softened, room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar or powdered sugar)
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
½ cup (120 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) granulated sugar
1 cup (120 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
Pinch of fine grain salt
For the Apricot Glaze
1¼ cup (300 ml) (14 oz) (400 gm) apricot jam or preserves
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rum (or other liquor) or water
For the Chocolate Glaze
1 cup (240 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 ml) water
(4 oz) (115 gm) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
For the Writing Chocolate
¼ cup (60 ml) (1.8 oz) (50 gm) chopped good quality chocolate
½ – 1 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
- Preheat the oven to moderately hot 375˚F/350°F fan/190˚C/gas mark 5 with a rack in the centre of the oven.
- Butter and flour the sides of a 9-inch (23 cm) spring form pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
- Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and heat over a small saucepan of barely simmering water until just melted.
- Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until light and creamy.
- Add the confectioners’ sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.
- Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla.
- Beat until well-mixed and very light and creamy, scraping down sides of the bowl, until mixture is homogenous.
- In a scrupulously clean bowl using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with about one tablespoon of sugar.
- Beat on high speed until foamy. Gradually add the rest of the granulated sugar and continue beating the whites.
- Beat vigorously until the whites form soft, shiny peaks. They should hold their shape but flop over on themselves.
- Stir about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.
- Use a spatula and fold until just a few wisps of egg white remain. Be careful so as not to deflate the egg whites.
- Stir together the flour and salt and sift half of it over the chocolate mixture. Fold in until almost incorporated.
- Sift over the remaining flour and fold to combine completely. Spread the cake batter evenly in the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/350°F fan/190˚C/gas mark 5 oven for about 35 to 45 minutes.
- The cake will flatten out as it cools. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen from pan.
- Carefully invert onto a rack, remove the bottom of the pan and parchment paper, then turn the cake right-side up.
- Allow to cool completely. For the apricot glaze, boil jam and rum/water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook the glaze, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, for about 2-3 minutes.
- Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.
- For assembling, turn the cake upside-down so that the perfectly flat bottom of the cake is now the top of the cake.
- Cut the cake horizontally into 2 even layers. Place 1 cake layer on the 8½-inch (22 cm) cardboard cake round.
- Spread it generously with about half of the apricot glaze. Allow it to soak in. Place the second cake layer on top.
- Spread the top and sides with the remaining apricot glaze. Work quickly before the glaze has a chance to set.
- Use a metal offset spatula to smooth the top. Place the cake on a rack set over a plate lined with waxed paper.
- Allow the apricot glaze to set. To make the chocolate glaze, place sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Attach a candy thermometer and cook.
- Stir and cook until the mixture reaches 234˚F/112°C, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Whisk in chocolate. If it thickens up, return it to low heat and add few drops of water if necessary to thin it out.
- It should be of a runny, pourable consistency. The glaze should be smooth and shiny. Stir for 30-60 seconds.
- Cool slightly, then immediately use it to glaze the cake. Pour it over the top of the cake, first around the edge.
- Then pour the glaze in the middle. Spread the excess glaze over any bare spots using a metal offset spatula.
- Before the glaze has a chance to set, move cake to a serving platter. Now, make the writing chocolate for piping.
- Heat the chopped chocolate until just melted, then stir in enough vegetable oil to get a good piping consistency.
- Place chocolate in a piping bag and snip off the tip to make a small hole. Cool slightly so that it is not too runny.
- Pipe the word “Sacher” in the middle of the cake and add any decorative flourishes with the writing chocolate.
- Chill the cake until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.
- Whip the cream to soft peaks. Cut the Sachertorte into wedges with a large sharp knife dipped in hot water.
- Wipe off the blade between cuts. Serve each wedge of cake with a large dollop of whipped cream. Serves 12-16.
Daring Bakers September Challenge – Sachertorte