From time to time we all get into a rut. Travel is a wonderful way to break out of this and explore other cultures. Presently, I am tired of all the old recipes I seem to cook repeatedly , so I find myself poking around in cookbooks I have brought back from my former travels. While turning the pages I remember the fabulous dinners I ate with special friends on a long ago journey or a charming outdoor garden in Austria with my young daughters. For just a minute, I am back there, on that day, with those special people relaxing and enjoying my life.
Even if you have not made your way to Vienna, you can have a slice of it when you try making the famous Sachertorte. The legend has it that in 1832, Prince Metternich asked his court kitchen to create a special dessert for a reception. Due to the illness of the chef, it fell to the 16-year-old apprentice Franz Sacher (1816-1907) to dream something up: and thus the original Sacher-Torte, now famous all over the world, was born. The recipe for the original Sacher-Torte is a well-kept secret, known only to confectioners at Hotel Sacher in Vienna. The recipe below is as close as we have dared to come, courtesy of The National Austria Tourist Office website.
7 egg yolks
150 g softened butter (2/3 Cup)
125 g icing sugar (1/2 Cup)
200 g dark chocolate (1 Cup)
1 packet (8g) vanilla sugar
7 egg whites
125 g crystal sugar (1/2 Cup)
A pinch of salt
150 g flour( 3/4 Cup)
Butter and flour for the mould
150 – 200 g apricot jam, for spreading (3/4 Cup)
Rum, if desired
Whipped cream to garnish
For the glaze:
200 g dark chocolate coating or cooking chocolate ( ¾ Cup)
250 g sugar (1 Cup)
150-170 ml water (2/3 Cup)
How to make it:
1. Melt the chocolate slowly (ideally in a bain-marie –). Meanwhile, mix the butter with the icing sugar and vanilla sugar until creamed. Gradually stir in the egg yolks. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C. Grease a cake tin with butter and sprinkle with flour. Whip up the egg whites with a pinch of salt, add the crystal sugar and beat to a stiff peak. Stir the melted chocolate into the paste with the egg yolks and fold in the whipped egg whites alternately with the flour. Fill the dough into the tin and bake for around 1 hour.
2. Remove the cake and leave to cool off (to achieve a flat surface turn the cake out on to a work surface immediately after baking and turn it again after 25 minutes).
3. If the apricot jam is too solid, heat it briefly and stir until smooth, before flavoring with a shot of rum. Cut the cake in half crosswise. Cover the base with jam, set the other half on top, and coat the upper surface and around the edges with apricot jam.
4. For the glaze, break the chocolate into small pieces. Heat up the water with the sugar for a few minutes. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool down until just warm to the taste (if the glaze is too hot it will become dull in appearance, but if too cold it will become too viscous). Add the chocolate and dissolve in the sugar solution.
5. Pour the glaze quickly, i.e. in a single action, over the cake and immediately spread it out and smooth it over the surface, using a palate knife or other broad-bladed knife. Leave the cake to dry at room temperature.
Serve with a garnish of whipped cream. If possible, do not store the Sacher Torte in the fridge, as it will “sweat”.
Baking time: approx. 1 hour