When we visited Munich over this past summer I had a list of places I wanted to see and foods I wanted to eat. Near the top of that list was a trip to Salzburg, Austria. Although I didn’t get to spend as much time in the city as I would have liked, I had priorities: do a little music shopping at Musikladen-Salzburg (traveling to Salzburg to buy Vienna-based Bilderbuch’s Schick Shock and Wanda’s Amore makes perfect sense to me…) and get Sacher Torte. And let me just say: mission accomplished. So naturally the first thing I wanted to bake when I returned home was that deliciously chocolate cake. And my dad’s birthday — he’s a good sport — made the perfect excuse.
For the uninitiated, in 1832 the Sacher Hotel “invented” the dessert. Sacher Torte is a somewhat dense, somewhat dry two-layer chocolate cake that is coated in apricot jam and then covered in a single, seamless layer of fudgey chocolate. Pair it with some unsweetened whipped cream and a cup of tea and it is pretty darn enjoyable if you ask me.
While the official recipe for Sacher Torte is closely guarded there are copycat recipes available that are almost as good. But do yourself a favor and get a piece of the real thing if you happen to be near any of the Sacher Hotels or Cafes — they have locations in major Austrian cities like Innsbruck and Graz in addition to Salzburg and the capital, Vienna. A stay at the famed luxury hotel is also on my bucket list — but that is for another trip! You can also buy a Sacher Torte from them online but it is a bit pricey. So for most of us the homemade imitation route is the most cost effective solution.
The Sacher Torte also gave me a good excuse to try out a new kitchen gadget that I bought, too. German brand Zenker sells a tool for aiding you in cutting a level layer cake! It is a stainless steel ring with notches in it. Place the ring around your cake and use the notches as a guide for your knife. It is a little awkward at first — I made my husband try it out for me. However, for those who need a little help not butchering the cake — like me — it is a handy tool to have.
Adapted from Vienna Unwrapped.
Makes one 9-inch cake
for the cake:
- 140g butter at room temperature
- 110g powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 egg, yolks and whites separated
- 130g dark chocolate
- 110g granulated sugar
- 140g all-purpose flour
- 200g apricot jam
for the frosting:
- 200g granulated sugar
- 125ml water
- 150g dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven for 340°F.
- Cream the butter and powdered sugar. Add the vanilla extract.
- Slowly add in the egg yolks.
- In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate for the cake batter. Once melted, add to the batter.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until stiff and shiny.
- Carefully add the egg whites to the batter and fold in.
- Fold in the flour.
- Thoroughly grease a cake pan or spring-form pan. Fill the pan with the batter.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour. Leave the oven door ajar for the first 10 to 15 minutes.
- When the cake is finished cooking, let it cool on a flat surface to maintain its smooth surface. This will ensure the frosting has a smooth base.
- When fully cooled, slice the cake horizontally in order to create two layers.
- Warm the apricot jam until it has a more fluid consistency. If the jam contains fruit bits or pulp, use a mesh screen to remove the fruit from the jam.
- Generously coat both layers of the cake on all sides.
- Assemble the cake by placing one layer on top of the other. Briefly allow the jam-coated cake to dry.
- For the frosting, combine the granulated sugar and water in a pan and boil for about 5 to 6 min. Let the mixture cool completely.
- In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate.
- Gradually add the sugar water mixture to the melted chocolate. Stir continuously until completely combined and the chocolate is thickened.
- Carefully and working quickly before the chocolate cools to much, pour the chocolate frosting onto the center of the cake. Allow the frosting to flow over the cake. If necessary, carefully help the frosting to coat the top and sides of the cake. Try not to touch the frosting too much.
- Let the chocolate dry until the frosting is solid.