I have been obsessed with the idea of hosting a giant High Tea since I returned from London, and today is finally the day! It may threaten to rain, so we will sip our tea inside, but 16 lovely friends are coming over in just a few hours.
Somehow, I managed to get all my baking done and have some time to spare to share one of my favorite cakes with you!
Sachertorte is quite the legend, in many ways. It is, by far, Vienna’s most popular dessert, and has caused quite a controversy over the years. Legend goes, that the 16 year old Franz Sacher was asked by Prince Metternich to bake a special dessert for his guests since his head chef was sick. This is when the cake supposedly came to life. Trouble is, Franz himself never claimed this. Years later, his son Eduard is a pastry chef working for the famous Demel cafe, and refines the cake there. Demel is the first to sell the cake. He then opens Hotel Sacher and sells the cake there as well. Years later, after the cake became a legend, Hotel Sacher goes out of business, and Demel buys the rights to the recipe. Since then, and quite a few legal disputes, the hotel is back and the rights to the cake belongs to Sacher, and Demel serves a different variation of the cake. With all this drama, it must be good right?
Sachertorte starts off as a chocolate sponge cake lightened with 8 egg whites. Two cakes are sandwiched with apricot jam with a touch of rum. The apricot is then smeared over the sides and top of the cake before a chocolate glaze encases the whole cake! It is generally served with whipped cream.
I first tasted a version of the cake I New York at one of the shops in the Plaza Hotel’s shopping center, which I like to refer to as the dessert basement off of Columbus Circle. It was divine. I have always loved jam, and jam on an already sweet something with chocolate on top is just right for me! When I went to Vienna a few years ago, I made sure to add Sachertorte to my long list of cafes to visit and cakes to eat! It was delicious there too, and since everyone else was doing it, I decided to develop my own!
I will serve that Sachertorte today at High Tea, so I figured it was time to share the recipe!
2 cups pastry flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
10 ounce bag of dark chocolate chips (honestly, 9oz, I always eat a bit as I am cooking)
18 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup sugar, separated
10 egg yolks
8 egg whites*
1 1/2 cup apricot jam
3 tbsp dark rum
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp heavy cream
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
*I used the remaining egg whites for my Macaron recipe!
- For the cake, first melt the chocolate. If you have a double boiler, that is the ideal method. What I do, I put it all in a microwave safe bowl with 8 tbsp of butter cut up. Microwave it for 45 seconds. Mix the softened butter and chocolate together, and microwave for another 45 seconds. I have never scorched it to date!
- Meanwhile, cream the remaining butter with 1 cup of sugar.
- Beat in the egg yolks, 1 at a time.
- On the lowest setting, carefully mix in the melted chocolate.
- Add half of the flour as well as all of the ground almond flour.
- Separately, whip egg whites with a pinch of salt or cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk until smooth and glossy with firm peaks.
- Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. These kinds of recipes are why I have a second bowl attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer, you will never regret not having to transfer bowls during complicated recipes!
- Now that the chocolate mixture is lighter, on the lowest setting, add the remaining flour.
- Fold in the remaining egg whites.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Butter or oil two 8 inch round springform cake tins, and cover the bottoms in aluminum foil. Mine always leak butter…
- Pour in batter and make sure to level out the tops as much as possible.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until a knife can be pulled out clean.
- Leave in tins for 10 minutes to cool, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely before use.
- Meanwhile, bring rum and jam to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until combined and push through a sieve to separate out any chunks. Cool completely!
- Cut off any bump that may have grown during baking. You want a perfectly flat cake.
- Place one cake on serving platter. Top with 1/2 of apricot jam.
- Add second layer making sure it is even.
- Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of apricot. You may have some extra, don’t force it on, that will make putting the chocolate glaze on tougher. Instead, save it and eat it with those bits of cake you just trimmed!
- To make the glaze, sprinkle gelatin over the heavy cream in a small pot. Let it absorb for a minute.
- Whisk in the sugar and cocoa, and simmer on medium-low heat, continuously stirring for about 8 minutes or so. It will bubble and become shiny and thick. Refer to photo below. Cool for a bit. If you cool it all the way, it will set a bit too much, just warm it up for a few seconds while whisking.
- Pour about half on top of the cake. Using a flat frosting spatula, turn your cake slowly while keeping your wrist in the same position and gently level out the top while forcing some frosting down the sides. (really invest in this if you like cakes, much better than any knife!)
- Continue spinning the cake while adding a bit of glaze at a time to take sides of your cake. The trick is to move the cake not your arm. Maybe invest in a spinning cake stand as well. I wish I had one!
- Let the glaze set, it will develop a bit of a crust. You can decorate it at that point if you like! I added a thin trail of ground almonds and lavender flowers. The prettiest ones I have seen have edible gold leaf, I only had “manuscript” gold leaf, so I didn’t risk it!
You can make this at least 3 days in advance! Make sure you store it covered in a cool spot, but not in the fridge. Keep it away from windows…mine melted a bit once!
Total time: 3-4 hours with cooling time. Serves 1-10, depending on your sharing skills!