Sachertorte is a famous cake from Vienna that I had never made before. Thanks to CampariGirl’s post I was reminded of it. A Sachertorte is a chocolate cake with two layers, separated by a layer of apricot jam and finished with a chocolate glaze. It was invented in 1832 and is still served in the Sacher Hotel in Vienna. It is not that difficult to make, but it is a bit of work and it takes some precision to get the right texture of the sponge (by leaving in as much air as possible as well as not overcooking it), to get the icing right (by boiling it long enough, easier when you use a thermometer) and to make it look right (but it will still taste great if it’s bit skewed). And of course you should use good chocolate with at least 70% cacao. I’ve used the same NYTimes recipe that CampariGirl used, but I’ve added some tips to make it easier. And a wine pairing. Judged by the reactions of those who tried a piece, it was well worth the effort.
For the cake
120 grams (8 1/2 Tbsp) butter, plus more for greasing the pan
120 grams (4.2 oz) bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao)
6 large eggs, separated (total weight 340 grams (12 oz) with shells)
100 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
80 grams (1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp) granulated sugar
80 grams (8 Tbsp) cake flour, plus more for flouring the pan
40 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon) cornstarch
For the filling
300 grams (1 cup) apricot jam
2 Tbsp dark rhum
For the glaze
200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
150 grams (5.3 oz) bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao)
120 ml (1/2 cup) water
Melt 120 grams butter with 120 grams chocolate in a saucepan (over a double boiler, not needed when using induction).
Stir until the mixture is smooth, then turn off the heat and allow to cool somewhat.
Grease a 24 cm (9″) springform pan with butter, then line bottom and sides with parchment paper, then grease the paper with butter. Sprinkle with flour and move the pan until it is coated with a thin layer of flour.
Combine 6 egg yolks with 100 grams confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Whisk until creamy, pale, and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the chocolate mixture while the machine is running.
Continue until well mixed. Transfer this mixture into a large bowl. Clean the bowl of the stand mixer and the whisk attachment very well so it is fat free and dry before continuing, as otherwise the egg whites won’t inflate.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Whisk 6 egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until the soft peaks stage. Add 80 grams of granulated sugar, then continue to whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue looks glossy.
Add about a quarter of the meringue to the chocolate mixture in the large bowl…
…and stir it in to loosen it up.
Sift 80 grams cake flour with 40 grams cornstarch. Add a third of this mixture to the bowl, and gently fold it in with a spatula, working from below.
Alternate between folding in the meringue and the flour mixture (the meringue in 4 additions, the flour in 3 additions).
If you counted correctly, you should finish with the final addition of meringue…
…which should be folded in, again gently to leave in as much air as possible.
Gently transfer the batter into the prepared pan.
Smoothen the top.
Bake for 10 minutes at 180C/350F with the handle of a wooden spoon wedged between the oven door to keep it ajar.
After those 10 minutes, close the oven door to 135C/275F and remove the spoon. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center. Do not bake longer than necessary, or it will dry out.
Put the cake on a rack to cool.
It will deflate slightly, which is good because you want your cake to be flat.
As soon as it has cooled off enough for you to handle, remove the sides of the springform pan, and then turn over the cake onto a serving plate.
Remove the pan and parchments paper, and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the apricot filling by combining 300 grams of apricot jam with 2 tablespoons of dark rhum, and bringing this mixture to a boil.
Boil, stirring now and then, for 2 minutes.
Press the apricot mixture through a sieve (for which I used a foodmill).
When the cake has cooled off completely, carefully slice it in two horizontally. Lift off the top and set it aside. Do not attempt this when the cake is still warm, because it will break.
Place the bottom half on top of a rack and spread the apricot filling on it…
…leaving the sides bare to prevent the filling from spilling out. (The rack will be needed later to get rid of excess glaze.)
Place the top half on top of the filling.
To make the glaze, combine 150 grams of chocolate in a saucepan with 120 ml of water and 200 grams of sugar.
Bring this to a boil, stirring. Boil the mixture until a thermometer reads 110C/230F.
When the correct temperature has been reached, turn off the heat.
Pour the glaze on the cake, making sure to pour it everywhere on the sides as well.
Do not use a spatula to spread out the glaze, it should flow by itself. Allow the glaze to fully cool (and thus harden and become glossy) before serving.
The cake keeps for several days at room temperature under a cake dome.
In Vienna it is served with unsweetened whipped cream (but I don’t like that).
In Vienna this is served with coffee or tea, but since I served it for dessert I picked a dessert wine to go with it. A good choice for chocolate desserts is usually PX, but because of the apricot jam I decided to try an aged fortified moscatel from Navarra in Spain instead called Capricho de Goya. This is an amazing wine, about which you can read more here. As expected the Moscatel, that is slightly more ‘fresh’ than a PX, worked very well with the combination of chocolate and apricot jam. Some PX are lighter in style and that would also work.
Breaded lamb chops are a great variation if you grow tired of regular lamb chops.