Sixteen year old Franz Sacher first developed his famous torte on a day when Austria’s Chancellor Prince Klemens Lothar Wenzel von Metternich‘s pastry Chef was out sick, and the Prince – who was entertaining some foreign diplomats that evening – needed urgent help. Since 1832, Sachertorte has been famous enough to attract many a tourist from around the world to the two Vienna establishments that serve it. The Demel Bakery, where young Franz worked at the time, claimed they had the original recipe while the Sacher Hotel – owned by the Sacher family – claimed theirs was the real one. After 7 years, of fierce legal battles, the courts decided that both could be sold under the name Sachertorte. The main difference between the two consists in Demel‘s being simply coated with apricot jam and chocolate icing, while Sacher‘s also has a layer of apricot jam spread through the center.
As the kids were growing up, this cake became a tradition in our home, a special treat to celebrate that special occasion, a celebration of that special landmark in each one’s journey through life:
- 5 oz unsalted margarine (or butter for a tastier, dairy, version)
- 5 oz plain chocolate melted
- 5 oz castor sugar (hard to find and rather expensive you can make your own by grinding regular granulated sugar in a blender or food processor, castor or caster sugar is much finer than confectioner’s sugar and dissolves immediately)
- 6 eggs separated
- 4 oz plain flour, sifted
- Apricot jam
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Apply margarine lightly to a deep, 9 inch cake tin and line the bottom with margarined greaseproof paper.
- Cream the margarine and beat in the the cooled melted chocolate 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the sugar and egg yolks alternatively, beating well after each addition. Mix in the flour.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into the chocolate mixture
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for an hour, or until the cake is well risen and has shrunk slighly from the sides of the tin.
- Remove cake from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
- When the cake is quite cool, either spread the top and sides with warmed – strained – apricot jam, or cut the cake in half horizontally, spread the jam between the two layers (which I prefer) and put together the two halves before spreading the top and sides with more jam.
- 7 oz plain chocolate
- 8 oz castor sugar
- 5 oz water
- Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. In another pan, dissolve the the sugar in water over low heat. When the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Beat the chocolate until smooth; gradually beat in enough hot sugar syrup to make the icing the consistency of thick cream, Finally beat in a small piece of margarine.
- Pour the hot icing over the top of the cake and let it run down the sides. Quickly smooth the icing round the sides of the cake with a spatula. The less the icing is touched, the shinier it will be. Set aside until the glaze is quite hard and dry.
Serve with one or two billows of Crème Chantilly (sweetened whipped cream).
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!