Sacher Torte: Cakes Part 2

For our second day of cakes in baking class, we journeyed to Austria to pay homage to Austria’s most famous dessert, the Sacher Torte (pronounced “soccer”).  Legend has it the Sacher Torte was invented in 1832, when sixteen-year-old cooking apprentice Franz Sacher stepped in for an ill chef to prepare a special dessert for Prince Metternich and his stately guests.  The dessert became a hit in Vienna, and “The Original Sacher-Torte,” a carefully guarded recipe, has been tauted as the most famous cake in the world (though I admit I had never heard of such a cake until I made it the other day).

Le Cordon Bleu, obviously not privy to Vienna’s trade secret recipe, must have reverse-engineered the recipe provided to us.  And I will intern provide the adapted recipe to you, Sacher Torte recipe.  Caution: this isn’t your run of the mill cake.  It takes quite a bit of time to prepare, but is not difficult and the end result is pretty darned good.  The chocolate cake is surprisingly dense and light all at the same time, and the oozing apricot jam center complements the chocolate like honey to apples.  The double layer of chocolate frosting packs a rich punch.  The torte is traditionally served with whipped cream, though I sent it off to Big N’s work sans creme.

After making my torte in class, and having no special event on tap to tote my torte, I let Big N bring it with him to be devoured by his work colleagues.  As luck would have it, a fellow foodie blogger was able to sample my torte (my first review!).  Here’s what The Princess Gourmet had to say about yours truly (well, my torte, at least):

“A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! Light, not too dense. Subtle sweetness. Apricot jam in the middle added a nice layer of flavor. It’s supposed to be served with unsweetened whipped cream (didn’t miss it) but on its own, it’s wonderful. It’s one of the best sacher tortes I’ve ever had.”

Not too shabby, right?  Sacher it to me baby!  (How could I resist?!?)

Enjoy sacher torte

Next up: creme brulee and the elusive souffle.

Sacher Torte

Serves 8-10
Prep time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 2 hours
Meal type Dessert
Region European

Ingredients

Cake

  • 4.5oz Butter, unsalted
  • 5.75oz Sugar (Baker's (super fine) works best)
  • 4oz Egg yolks (about 4)
  • 6oz Egg whites (About 4)
  • 1 1/2oz Cake flour
  • 1 1/2oz Cocoa powder (good quality)
  • 1 3/4oz Almond meal (finely ground in food processor)
  • 4oz Apricot jam (no chunks)
  • 4oz Simple syrup ((instructions below))
  • to tasteVanilla or brandy (to flavor simple syrul)

Chocolate glaze

  • 8oz Semi-sweet chocolate
  • 6oz Butter, unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon Light corn syrup
  • Semi-sweet chocolate (Reserve some to write on the cake)

Note

Read through all of the instructions before getting started

Directions

1.
Cream the butter and just 3 3/4 oz. of the sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg yolks until incorporated. Place this mixture in a large mixing bowl and wash out the bowl to your stand mixer.
2.
In a separate bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. (The almond meal may not go through the sifter as it is thicker than flour, that’s ok, just dump the rest in).
3.
In your stand mixer, make a meringue by beating the egg whites until foamy on high speed with the whisk attachment. Add the remaining 2 ounces of sugar and continue to beat until medium stiff peaks form. (To test your peaks: take the whisk out with a little egg white stuck to it. Invert the whisk, and if the foam falls off completely it’s not stiff enough. If the foam crests like a wave you’re there. If the foam stands up straight, that’s stiff peaks and you’ve gove too far). Do not over beat.
4. Carefully fold the meringue into the creamed butter/sugar batter, one third at a time until just incorporated. Do not overwhip your egg whites or your cake will be too dense, save as much air in those egg whites as you can when folding. Then carefully fold in the sifted dry ingredients.
5.
Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Add the batter, and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees until set in the center (until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean), between 20-30 minutes (test it to be sure). Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack and remove torte from pan to finish cooling.
6.
When cooled, carefully slice the torte in half horizontally so you have 2 layers using a serrated knife. Make a simple syrup by combining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Heat on stove until sugar is just dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon of brandy to the syrup for flavoring. Using a pastry brush, brush the simple syrup on the top and sides of each layer so it moistens the torte. Be generous with this. You want a lot of moisture on the torte.
7.
Using a spatula, spread the apricot jam thickly on the bottom layer. Put the second layer on top so you have a two layered torte.
8.
Next make the chocolate glaze. Combine the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (double boiler) to melt these together, stirring frequently until melted.
9. Divide the chocolate glaze: put 1/3 of it in a separate bowl and set aside. Keep the remaining 2/3 in your original bowl and place this bowl over an ice bath (water and ice) to cool the glaze. Whisk it the whole time while cooling. If the chocolate freezes on the sides of the bowl, take out of the water bath, keep whisking to incorporate, and then put it back in the water bath to whisk some more. After about 3-5 minutes the chocolate will get nice and thick as it cools and will have the consistency of spreadable frosting.
10.
Place the torte on cardboard. Coat the entire torte with this frosting and make it smooth with your offset spatula. If you can't get it smooth enough, run your spatula under warm water to help you slightly melt the frosting and get it smoother. Chill for 10 minutes. Trim around the cardboard if necessary so it is the same size as the torte.
11.
Place the torte with the cardboard cut to fit on a wire rack that is sitting over a sheet tray that is covered in plastic wrap (to catch the chocolate you're about to pour). Reserve a small bit of the left over chocolate sauce (to write on your torte later). With the remaining reserved sauce sauce, pour it right over the center of the torte and let it drip down the sides. Try to coat the entire torte and get the sides smooth. If you run out of chocolate sauce before the entire torte is covered, pick up the plactic wrap where the sauce dripped on it and pour the sauce over the torte again. Let the chocolate set on the counter, do not refrigerate or you’ll lose all that cool shine on the chocolate.
12.
Optional: with the last bit of your reserved chocolate, place melted chocolate in a pastry bag and cut a small tip off it. Write “sacher” on the torte (traditional); or write whatever you want (modern). Serve the same day. Congratulations.

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