worldly wednesday: the sachertorte a visit to austria
When asking friends what first popped into their minds when they thought about Austria was nothing short of the typical American response. One friend began singing,”The hills are alive with the sound of music….With songs they have sung for a thousand years!”
Hmmm. I asked them to give me another image that popped into their minds. Another friend replied, “Edelweiss.” Then she broke out into song, “Edelweiss, Edelweiss, every morning you greet me. Small and white, clean and bright you look happy to meet me.” I had no idea my friends were such Sound of Music aficionados.
The conversation continued and it was generally agreed that the following images were, to us, Austria. (I’d like to add that none of us has ever traveled to this beautiful country.): Alps, edelweiss, pastries, sausages, Arnold Schwarzenegger and classical music.
It will be my great pleasure to visit Austria this summer when I am on holiday. Until then, I have to rely upon my computer to learn about this dynamic country, which no doubt does have songs that they have sung for one thousand years.
I quickly realized that the history of Austria is daunting for a small blog post. According to sources the territory of modern-day Austria, During the Neolithic, was home to the linear pottery culture, one of the first agrarian cultures in Europe. Ötzi the Iceman, a well-preserved mummy of a man frozen in Austrian Alps, is dated around 3300 BC. I’m not going to attempt to give a summary of approximately 5300 years of history. I’ll just stick to some general information and the food.
Austria is located in central Europe, north of Italy and Slovenia, bordering the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. The capital is Vienna and the official language spoken by 98% of the population is German. Most of the population is ethnically German.
This means that most of the food will be the same we associate with Germany. Popular foods are Wiener schnitzel, apfelstrudel, Selchfleisch and many different types of sausages. Austrian cakes and pastries are quite famous. The Linzer torte is known throughout the world and popular during the holidays in many countries. And, the Dobostorte is known for its delicate layers, making it both delicious and stunning. But, probably the most famous Austrian torte is the Sachertorte, a chocolate cake with apricot jam filling then soaked with rum.
The Sachertorte was created by chance by Jewish Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna; Austria. The prince ordered a dessert to impress high ranking guests. The head chef was sick and the team of cooks in the kitchen had no idea what to prepare. Franz Sacher, a 16-year old apprentice cookcreated this famous chocolate cake with the ingredients that were available. The recipe remains a secret to this day and is a culinary specialty at the Hotel Sacher (which was opened by Eduard, Franz Sacher’s son).
Sacher’s grandson sold the recipe to Demel’s, a café, in 1965. However, after a long legal battle, Demel’s had to alter the version to differ from Hotel Sacher’s version. Demel’s version has the apricot jam under the chocolate icing, whereas the Original Sacher Torte has it between the cake layers. The Original Sachertorte is only made in Vienna and Salzburg, and it is shipped from both locations
While the original recipe is under lock and key I am sure you will love the version below. And, if you happen to be traveling to Austria, make sure you have a slice of the original!
Photography Tips: Use 100 ISO
Guest Photographer: Agustua Fajarmon
To get this mood:
Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark III
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Scant 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Pinch of salt
7 tablespoons superfine sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum, divided
1 (12 ounce) jar apricot preserves
1 tablespoon water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 2.5-inch spring form pan and line the bottom with a parchment or greased waxed paper circle.
2. With an electric mixer on low speed (or with a stationary mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the butter for 1 minute, or until light. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat for 2 minutes longer.
3. Add the egg yolks two at a time, beating for 10 seconds between additions, or until absorbed by the butter. Scrape down the beaters and sides of the bowl and beat for 1 minute longer, or until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined.
4. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. With the machine running, add the superfine sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, and beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. With a rubber spatula, fold 1/2 the egg whites into the batter. Transfer the flour to a strainer and sift it over the batter as you fold it in along with the remaining beaten egg whites.
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan, smooth the top, and set the pan on a larger baking sheet (to catch the drips). Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out dry.
6. Cool the cake to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack. Run a knife around the cake to loosen it from the sides, then unlock the spring form and lift the cake out of the ring.
7. Bring 1/4 cup water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. When the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear, remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons rum. Brush 1/3 of the syrup onto the cut side of the cake bottom.
8. Puree the apricot preserves with 1 tablespoon of water until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat in a small saucepan, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining rum, and then spread 1/3 of the jam mixture onto the cut side of the cake bottom. Place the top of the cake onto the bottom. Brush the outside of the cake with the remaining syrup, then spread remaining apricot preserves over the top and sides; refrigerate until the icing is ready.
9. Bring the sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees F. Add the chocolate, stir, and cook until a candy thermometer registers 230 degrees F. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir constantly until smooth.
10. Pour the hot glaze slowly back and forth over the top and sides of the cake. Be generous as you pour so that the sides get covered, because the glaze can’t be moved once it is on the cake. If there are any unglazed patches on the sides of the cake, use a small offset spatula to patch the nude spots with more glaze. Let the cake stand for 1 hour before transferring it to a plate or platter.