Austrian desserts and baked goods are world renowned as heavenly, sweet treats. It’s difficult to avoid becoming addicted to these delights!
I’m sure you’ve heard of the iconic specialty that is the Sacher torte, a dessert that’s known and cherished all over the world. It’s the famous decadent chocolate gâteau that’s made with apricot jam, and a rich chocolate glaze on top.
Who would ever refuse a delicacy such as this?
The cake’s creation first came about as the result of a random occurrence in 1832, when the Prince of Metternich wanted his chef to create an extraordinary dessert for his guests. Unfortunately, the head chef was ill so his 16-year-old apprentice Franz Sacher was left to complete this challenging task.
Franz’s son Eduard further developed the cake at the court confectioner Demel, the first place to serve the cake to the public. Eduard later founded the Hotel Sacher, and it could be eaten there, too.
Unfortunately, once the torte started to gain popularity, it became the subject of a lawsuit between Hotel Sacher and Demel. This concerned not only the question of rightful ownership (and exclusive rights to sell the torte), but also the correct number of layers of jam that were used to make it.
When it comes to the law, it’s often the fine details that make all the difference.
The sponge cake that is prepared to make this recipe is quite rich, but it will give your gâteau a wonderful moist and delicate texture.
Want to know how to take this cake from good to gorgeous?
The quality of the chocolate that you use is the deciding factor. Look for a high quality dark chocolate that is at least 70% dark, and made without artificial flavorings.
If you prefer something even more sophisticated, get fancy with the decorations:
Use a sharp icing tip to write the name “Sacher” on top of the cake, or even atop each slice.
Or, if you’d rather go for a more basic, quickly-made recipe, give our German-inspired simple two ingredient cake recipe a taste.
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Melt the Chocolate
Bring some water to a simmer, then lower the heat and place your chocolate in a double boiler on top. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate is shiny and fully melted. Then remove from heat.
At this point, you should also preheat the oven and prepare a 9″ springform pan. You can grease it with butter or oil, or line with parchment paper.
Melting chocolate seized up? Read here on how to prevent chunks and bumps for perfect, velvety-smooth chocolate.
Step 2 – Whisk the Egg Whites
Separate the eggs and set aside the yolks. Whisk the whites with a standing mixer or electric hand beater for 5 to 10 minutes.
You’ll know they’re ready when stiff peaks form – shut off the mixer, raise the beaters out of the bowl, and take a look. Continue beating until they’re whipped enough, then set aside.
Maybe you’re in the market for a stand mixer? Check out Foodal’s guide to choosing a top rated model for your kitchen.
Step 3 – Prep the Vanilla
When you’re cooking with whole vanilla beans, it’s important to maximize that vanilla flavor by prepping your beans properly.
Carefully split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a sharp knife, and scrape out the pulp with the tip of your blade.
Save the scraped pod for use in another recipe, or add it to your sugar bowl for a bit of added flavor.
Step 4 – Cream the Butter and Sugar
Cut your softened butter into chunks and whisk it in a large bowl until smooth. If you’re going to use the electric mixer, just rinse off those beaters first. I prepped mine by hand.
Trying to figure out which whisk is best for the job? Check out Foodal’s review here.
Gradually add the sugar and vanilla to the butter, creaming them together until they’re thoroughly combined. The final result should be thick and fluffy.
Step 5 – Add Your Yolks, Chocolate, and Breadcrumbs
First, add the egg yolks one at a time to the bowl and mix thoroughly between additions. Continue to whip the mixture together, until it’s thick and fluffy.
Add the melted chocolate, being sure to scrape out that double boiler with a spatula, so you don’t miss any of the good stuff.
Remember to wash out the top of your double boiler while the torte bakes –you’re going to need it to make the chocolate glaze later! Add the breadcrumbs too, and stir to combine.
Step 6 – Fold in the Egg Whites
This step requires a little extra care, since the fluffy egg whites will help your chocolate sponge cake to rise. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the whites into the batter.
Step 7 – Pour and Bake
Finally, you can go ahead and pour that batter into your prepped baking pan and smooth the surface just a little with your spatula.
Bake on the lower rack of the oven for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan.
Step 8 – Fill and Glaze
After carefully removing your cake from the pan, slice it into two layers.
Spread half of your jam on the bottom layer, top with the other half of your cake, and top that with the remaining jam.
To prep the chocolate glaze, bring water to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Place the sugar and water in the double boiler and heat until the sugar has dissolved completely, making a simple syrup. Be careful not to let it boil.
Add the chopped chocolate a little at a time, stirring to combine between additions. Continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted and fully combined with the simple syrup.
Your glaze is ready when it takes on a shiny look. Remove it from the heat, and pour over your cake right away, then spread to cover. Chill before serving.
Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.