Any visit to Vienna involves eating lots and lots of cakes at one of the many charming cafes around the city. However, when it comes to the king of cakes of Vienna, the Sacher torte cannot be beat. The “original” Sacher torte, as served at the Sacher Hotel, is a dense chocolate 2-layer sponge cake with a layer of apricot glaze in the center as well as coating the sides and the top of the cake. It is covered with a thick chocolate icing. Typically, it’s served with a generous side of schlag (whipped cream) and a cup of coffee.
As the story goes, the original Sacher torte was first created in 1832, and it was a dessert dreamt up for royalty. Prince Metternich wanted to serve a very special dessert at one of his upcoming royal receptions. However, the master chef fell ill, and it was a young 16 year old apprentice chef, Franz Sacher, who stepped up to the challenge. Later Franz’s son, Eduard Sacher, refined the recipe to the cake we know and love today.
When you are in Vienna, you’ll see other cafés and bakeries selling Sacher torte. However, don’t be fooled nor tempted. These are not the “original”, but rather adapted versions. These other Sacher tortes are distinguished from the original Sacher torte by the denseness or coarseness of the sponge cake, the chocolate icing, and whether apricot glaze is used only in the center layer. Instead, be sure to go to the Hotel Sacher for your Sacher torte where you’ll enjoy this special cake in the luxurious surroundings of its popular cafe.
If you don’t get a chance to stop in the cafe at the Hotel Sacher to taste this delightful cake, you can buy one to-go at Hotel Sacher’s gift shop on the ground floor or at the Vienna airport in the duty-free shops. You can even order it online to have it delivered to your front door. Alternatively, you can make your own. Follow my recipe and you’ll have a cake that tastes just like the original Sacher torte, and you can have it whenever your heart desires. Just don’t forget the side of schlag! It’s a must!!
Let’s Get Baking!
The Original Sacher Torte
Note that this recipe is for a 6” cake, a size that suits me and my waistline just fine. If you would like to make a larger cake, use a 9” springform cake pan and double all the ingredients. You’ll have to increase your baking time to 45 minutes, too.
Adapted from the New Sacher Cookbook
Makes a 6” Sacher Torte
For the cake:
½ c flour, sifted
½ c of confectioner’s sugar
¼ c sugar
2 oz of dark chocolate, finely chopped (high quality bittersweet)
3 egg yolks, room temperature
3 egg whites, room temperature
4 tbsp of butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
For the apricot glaze:
12 oz jar of apricot preserves
3 tbsp orange juice, or Bacardi Gold rum, or water
For chocolate icing:
¼ c water
3.5 oz dark chocolate
½ c sugar
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Melt your chocolate, and set aside to cool a bit. Meanwhile, in another bowl, whip the butter and confectioner’s sugar until creamy. Gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, along with the vanilla. Finally, add the melted chocolate to the mixture.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until stiff and glossy. Fold ½ of the egg whites into the chocolate batter, and repeat. Next, sift about ½ of the flour on top of the batter and carefully fold in until blended, and repeat with the rest of the flour.
Prepare a 6” springform pan by lining the base with parchment paper, and coating the sides and base with “Baker’s Joy” or with butter and flour to prevent sticking. Add mix to the prepared pan. Place in a 400 degree preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes (begin testing for doneness with a toothpick). (You can test the cake to see if it’s done by pressing lightly on it with your finger. There should be slight resistance).
Let cake cool on a wire rack while still in the pan. Once completely cooled, remove the cake from the pan, and using a serrated knife, cut off the dome of the cake to create a level base. Turn the cake over, and cut it in half, horizontally, to make your two layers.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm up the apricot preserves with either orange juice, rum or water for about 2 – 3 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a small bowl. While warm, generously spread more than ½ of the warm apricot glaze over both cake layers, giving it time to soak in and dry before putting the two layers back together. Glaze the top and side of your cake with the rest of the apricot glaze. Allow to set for at least 30 minutes.
In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar and allow the sugar to dissolve completely, boiling for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate pieces all at once. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and results in a smooth sauce. Pour the sauce over the cake, starting along the edges first and then work your way into the center. The sauce will pour over the sides of the cake on its own without having to spread it, but you can use an offset spatula to help it out. Allow the chocolate to set for a few hours before serving.
Serve with schlag.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ c sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (adjust to personal taste)
Beat whipping cream in a bowl on medium to high speed. When it begins to thicken, add the vanilla and sugar. Continue beating until soft peaks form, being careful not to overbeat.
Featured image, credit: Hotel Sacher