worldly wednesday: the sachertorte a visit to austria

Sacher Torte Austria Dessert Chocolate Cake

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:
ApertureFNumber: f/5.6
Make: Canon
Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark III
ExposureTime: 1/125
FNumber: 56/10
ISOSpeedRatings: 100
Flash: 16
FocalLength: 90/1

SacherTorte

Cake

Ingredients

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

Filling

Ingredients

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum, divided
1 (12 ounce) jar apricot preserves
1 tablespoon water

Glaze

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

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.

  • rss
  • flickr
  • twitter
  • facebook

30 comments

  • January 11, 2012 at 9:40 am //

    That is such a gorgeous cake!! Loved your photos as well, wonderful composition!!

    • January 11, 2012 at 11:04 am //

      Thank you Ambika, this is by our guest photographer Agustua, we wanted to highlight the sacher, with a moody, yet low ISO setting. The ISO used was 100.

  • January 11, 2012 at 9:56 am //

    This Sacher torte sounds amazing! I remember I tried to make one for my Mom’s Birthday once when I was in highschool and the recipe for the ganache glaze was too runny and it ran all off the plate and all over the kitchen…it was funny though! Yours sounds fool proof and wonderful however and I would love a large slice :)!

    • January 11, 2012 at 10:47 am //

      I think we all have had those moments in the kitchen and “elsewhere” here’s to a thicker glaze!!! I’m not sure which was worse, using baking soda for flour Mothers birthday cake) or having a two-part pan not connected and drip all over the oven.

  • January 11, 2012 at 10:25 am //

    That cake is just gorgeous and love the mood you set!

    • January 11, 2012 at 11:02 am //

      It is!!! We choose this photo to highlight the Sacher because an 100 ISO was used. We thought it was important to highlight Food Photography using a low ISO. Thank you so much for commenting Kankana!

  • January 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm //

    Gorgeous composition and lovely read about Austria.

    • January 12, 2012 at 10:09 am //

      It’s such a treat learning all the various facets about recipes, their history, and the country behind them (countries). Thank you so much for commenting.

  • January 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm //

    Chocolatey !!!!!!!! I love this a lot lot..Absolutely the picture is gorgeous.

    • January 12, 2012 at 10:09 am //

      Who doesn’t love chocolate? Thank you so much for commenting = )

  • January 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm //

    Loved finding out what the history behind this cake was. This torte looks delicious, very sophisticated too!

    -Shan
    true queen

    • January 12, 2012 at 10:08 am //

      We really love learning about the history behind the recipes and cuisine, all the while learning more of the history as well. Thank you so much for commenting Shan!

  • January 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm //

    Wow, it looks beautiful :) I am a sucker for Sacher torte!
    Did I miss it or was there no number of eggs indicated on the list of ingredients?

    • January 12, 2012 at 6:54 am //

      Hi Vita, our sincere apologies, thank you so much for letting us know. The recipe calls for 6 large eggs, separated. Please let us know how the recipe turns out.

  • January 11, 2012 at 10:53 pm //

    I’m amazed how steady your hand was while writing Sacher, wow!
    Horses, music and pastries – this is what comes first to my mind when thinking of Austria. I’ve been to Vienna for only a day but it was amazing. There were a lot of street musicians, horses and carriages and we ate wonderful pastries there

    • January 12, 2012 at 7:02 am //

      Hi Silvia! Isn’t Vienna beautiful? Austria is such a beautiful country. What was your favorite pastry?

  • January 12, 2012 at 5:00 am //

    Neat recipee, and I – myself Austrian – have never heard it’s story before! Interesting!

    Austrian cuisine is not only influenced by German but also by czecho-slovakain and hungarian food (Hungary is one of Austrians neighbours too ;)) as they were part of the empire years ago :-)

    On your holiday you should also try Knödel (dumplings, both sweet and savory, for example “Marillenknödel” which are made out of potatoe and filled with apricots then dusted with breadcrumbs and sugar) and Kaiserschmarren! I am always drawn to sweeties so if you have any questions about Austrian desserts feel free to ask, don’t know too much about typical savory dishes though.

    Have a nice holiday and thank you for sharing this post! :)

    • January 12, 2012 at 6:59 am //

      Hi Kate, we love to explore the history behind various cuisines, all the while learning more about the history behind the country. Those dumplings sound absolutely delicious, filled with apricots, do you happen to have a recipe?

      What is your favorite Austrian dessert? Thank you so much for commenting.

  • January 12, 2012 at 5:31 am //

    I just found you through Foodgawker. What a beautiful picture! I live in Germany and your Sachertorte looks way better than anything I’ve seen here (I know it’s Austrian but you’d think they’d have it down). Nice job. :)

    • January 12, 2012 at 10:03 am //

      What a beautiful country to be living in Erin!!! Would love if you could share some recipes with us?

  • January 12, 2012 at 10:36 am //

    Wow! I am speechless. How neatly done.

  • January 12, 2012 at 10:59 am //

    Oooh… I love sachertorte! Lovely post.

  • January 12, 2012 at 11:14 am //

    Now I am all nostalgic – as you pointed out, there is a lot of overlap between German and Austrian cuisine, and Sachertorte is a staple in any bakery in Germany. Thank you for posting it.

  • January 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm //

    What a beautiful dessert! Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

  • January 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm //

    Beautiful cake. Nice photo.

  • January 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm //

    YUM-MY! Such a beautiful cake, makes you almost want to admire it without cutting into it, ALMOST! I would devour that in a day.

    On a side note, I love ‘Sound of Music’ and I’m sure you’ll have a gorgeous time in Austria!

    • January 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm //

      Thank you Amrita and thank you so much for commenting = )

  • January 13, 2012 at 10:29 am //

    I’m officially in love with Austria! Dobostorte is just amazing and apfelstrudel is one of my favorites! And that Sachertorte looks divine! I have got to get me some of that :) Thanks for the recipe!

    • January 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm //

      I think I might run out and rent the movie “Sound of Music” Amalia = )

  • August 28, 2012 at 11:49 am //

    genome468 on January 14, 2011 i checked out your site. not bad. its done prttey much like craigslist so i enjoyed the familiarity. A question tho. how long has the site been up? This can grow to be a big thing just like craigslist.. good luck to ya