Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sacher Torte

Sacher Torte: A Little Piece of History

It is fascinating that so many famous cakes and desserts have a unique "creation" stories. It adds a lot of character to the dessert; it just makes it feel extra special and adds a human dimension to it. 

The story of the torte began in 1832, when Wensel Clemens Prince Metternich was on the look out for a  special dessert that would wow his high-ranking guests.  

Fate intervened on the day Metternich wanted his special dessert. His head chef was unavailable and his 16 years old apprentice, Franz Sacher, had to fill in his place. The young and talented Sacher worked hard to impress and he didn't fail. His exquisite fluffy chocolate cake made better with a layer of sweet apricot jam underneath the icing, was a huge success.

As Franz became a fully qualified chef, he didn't forget the moment of glory he lived thanks to his sweet invention. In his own run business, he featured the torte he made for Metternich and his elite guests. Now everyone could indulge themselves with a piece of this delicious torte. Soon after, he couldn't make enough tortes to keep up with the demand! The torte became known by the name of its creator: Sacher torte.
The original recipe for the Sacher torte is a closely guarded secret which only the privileged chefs of Hotel Sacher know.  However, many have tried to recreate the recipe, some had better luck than others. If you google Sacher torte you will find hundred of recipes. Try some, and stick with the ones you feel most pleased with. 

Almost 10 years ago, I was in Vienna, the home town of the Sacher torte. I wanted to try a piece of this famous treat, so I went to a prestigious Viennese café and sunk my teeth in the sweet chocolaty delight. Yumm. A charming treat, in a charming café in the charming and bourgeois city of Vienna. A perfect combination.

I tried several recipes of the Sacher torte, but I will share with you the one that brought me back to Vienna. I added a few twists to the recipe to make it a bit more personal and dare I say, a bit more decadent and tasty. 

So are you ready to try and make this torte yourself? 

The end result of your hard labor, a sumptuous dessert

You will need these ingredients

  • 175 g of dark chocolate (make sure to use a brand you trust and like)
  • 150 g softened butter
  • 100 g confectioner's sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 60 g sugar
  • 150 g flour (be sure to sift it thoroughly several times. This cake is a sponge  and has to have that extra fine consistency)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Apricot Jam
Note: I used 4 eggs instead of 6, you just have to calculate the amount needed of each ingredient accordingly.

The glaze in this recipe is just as important as the sponge, and this is what you need to prepare it:
  • 200 grams of chocolate
  • 200 grams of sugar
  • 100 ml of water
  • 1 tablespoon of corn syrup

So now that you have prepared your ingredients, this is how you proceed. 
First melt the chocolate over a double boiler then add the butter. Slowly incorporate the confectioner’s sugar, whisk until well combined. Start adding the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla extract . You can also add some alcohol for enhanced flavor. I added some whiskey. It removes any egginess (pronounced smell of eggs) from the batter and adds a distinguished taste. 

Add the flour gradually to the chocolate mixture, mix until well combined.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks. Then add some vanilla to the mixture.  
Fold few spoons of the egg whites into chocolate mixture. The first batch of eggs white you fold in lightens up the mix. If you add all of the eggs whites at once, you will lose all of the air you tried hard to get into them. Fold in  the rest of the egg whites in 2 or 3 batches.

Pour the mix into two 18 cm pans lined with parchment paper, covered with butter and cocoa powder, level and smooth the top.  

In other recipes, butter and confectioner's sugar are beaten together until the mixture is almost white, then egg yolks are added one by one, and flour incorporated gradually. I have tried both methods and the result is almost the same. 

Bake in a preheated oven (180 C) for 18 to 20 minutes, (ovens differ, so use your better judgement to know what is the appropriate time for your oven). Insert a toothpick into the cake, if it comes out clean then it´s done .
Baked cake waiting for its chocolate glaze anointment
Let the cake cool completely before removing the parchment paper. Heat the apricot jam to which you can add dark rum or a mix of whiskey and white rum. 

Spread the warm jam over one of the cakes, top with the remaining one. 

Usually, the recipe stops here, but for extra decadence and chocolate flavor, I added some chocolate ganache, which you can easily prepare by whisking in 130 g of chocolate in 70 ml of boiled cream (off the heat). 

Brush the outer layer of the cake with the remaining jam and leave it to set.  

Meanwhile prepare the glaze. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over a  medium heat until sugar melts, let it boil for 2 minutes, then add the chocolate off the heat, let it melt before starting to mix.

The sight of melted chocolate always turns heads
While the glaze is still warm, start pouring it over the cake, placed on a cooling rack. If you see any air bubbles on the surface just pinch them with a tooth pick, when dried these bubbles won’t look pretty.

Make sure the chocolate is well set before trying to move the cake, otherwise you will crack the glaze.

I decorated my cake with golden sugar pearls, piped some chocolate dots and just wrote Sacher, as seen on the traditional Sacher torte.

Presentation idea for individual servings
Golden color befits this royal like torte

Try this recipe and I am sure you will enjoy it. Bon appétit!


  1. Mmmm!! q buenisima pinta tiene!!!!
    Yo inetentare hacerla pero algun dia tendre q probar la tuya pq si en las fotos tiene ese aspecto el sabor debe ser IMPRESIONANTE!!!

    Grcais por tu blog q ya sabes q lo h estado esperando con impaciencia!!!

    1. Espero q lo hagas, y ya me dirás q tal, estoy trabajando sobre la versión de la receta en castellano, asi la puedes compartir con tus amigos! Un beso