After I finished school, I got a job in Germany. I lived there for five years, first in Munich, then Berlin. This gave me ample opportunity to travel the continent. One of my favourite cities to visit was Vienna, for the art, for the music, for the architecture, and of course for the food.
During one visit in particular, I decided to conduct an in-depth analysis of the Sacher torte. I went to the Hotel Sacher, of course, and Demel’s. I also sampled the tortes at a number of cafés, pretty much every café I passed, which was a lot, all of which served Sacher torten, because it is the unofficial cake of Vienna.
I took notes, and when I returned home to Berlin, I set about creating my ideal version of the Sacher torte. It is not authentic. It is not in any way an attempt to try to recreate the original. It’s simply the Sacher torte the way I want it to be.
For the cake, I use a recipe out of the old Time Life cookbook series, the volume on Vienna, of course. I have tried others, but I don’t like them nearly as much.
For the frosting I use chocolate truffles, or, more accurately, I follow a recipe for truffles, then pour it over the cake while the chocolate is still warm. It’s a very particular recipe, and one that is quite different from your standard truffle. It makes an excellent frosting.
Most recently, I made this cake for my friend Daryle, who just celebrated a birthday. Happy birthday Daryle!
For the cake (adapted from The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire, Time-Life books):
- 6 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 4 oz. butter
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 10 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- Preheat the oven to 350
- Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Melt the chocolate with the butter. Let cool 10 minutes, then beat in the egg yolks.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until foamy. Continue beating, adding the sugar in a slow, steady stream, until all the sugar is incorporated and the egg whites hold stiff peaks when the beater is raised.
- Fold 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate mixture.
- Pour the lightened chocolate mixture over the remaining egg whites.
- Sift the flour over the top, and gently fold it in.
- Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake until the layers are puffed, and spring back when lightly touched in the center, about 25 minutes.
- Let cake cool thoroughly before assembly.
For the frosting:
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 T. cream
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla
- 4 oz. butter
- 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup golden syrup
- Combine the yolks, cream, and vanilla in a saucepan.
- Add the butter and chocolate.
- Stir over very low heat until the butter and chocolate are melted, and teh mixture is homogenous.
- Stir in the golden syrup.
- Set aside to cool and thicken, stirring occasionally.
- When the mixture is thick, but still pourable, proceed with the assembly of the cake.
To assemble the cake:
- Spread 1/2 cup of apricot jam over one layer of the cake. Top with the second layer.
- Pour the truffle frosting over the cake. I do this by pouring it into the center of the top layer, and, with an icing spatula, gently coax it to spread evenly across the top and down the sides.
- Garnish or decorate as you wish. I like to sprinkle the cake with cocoa nibs. You can also use some of the excess frosting to pipe a simple pattern on the top.
- Serve with strong coffee and unsweetened whipped cream.