Ever since visiting some of the best bakeries in Hungary, I have always wanted to try my hand at making a traditional Austrian-Hungarian cake. I decided to bake the Sachertorte since it is one of Vienna's most famous cakes. The cake was invented by Franz Sacher and is now rightfully served at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. Sachertortes are famously available through mail order, but I find it is actually a rather easy cake to make at home.
I had searched for the perfect opportunity to bake this cake and it came last week when my mother celebrated her 65th birthday. It was a big moment for her and it turned out to be the perfect moment to share this luscious cake with the whole family. Inspired by the cake Deb of Smitten Kitchen made for her mother's 65th birthday, I decided to share this recipe with you all. Simple yet elegant, the torte turned out to be a big hit with everyone who attended my mom's birthday gathering.
The original Sachertorte recipe is a closely guarded secret. This made it more difficult to find a classic version of the recipe, but the recipe I chose as a basis for my creation turned out to be an excellent version. I found it in Lidia's Italy by Lidia Bastianich. Earlier this year I watched Lidia bake this same cake on her PBS show and immediately knew I wanted to make it. I quickly bought the book and have since found many of its recipes to be of superb quality.
Interestingly, the cake portion of this torte is made without a leavening agent. The torte relies only on the combination of eggs and flour to make it rise. After slicing the very dense chocolate interior into five thin layers (I highly recommend not going beyond three layers as the five layers I created were very difficult and frustrating to deal with as the brittle layers cracked in my hands), I brushed each layer with apricot syrup and then spread with apricot preserves. Finally I dredged the whole cake in a shiny, velvety chocolate glaze. This cake is sure to be a hit at your next sweet-toothed gathering. Serve it with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and a cup of coffee and you will be transported to the coffeehouses of Europe.
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs, separated
15 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup corn syrup
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with a 9-inch round of parchment, and butter again.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
In a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt 5 ounces of the chocolate. Let cool to touch.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, at medium speed, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until incorporated. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until fluffy. Add melted chocolate and mix until combined. By hand fold in the flour and the egg whites, half at a time, until just combined.
Pour batter into cake pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool completely in pan.
Run a thin knife around cake and remove springform rim. Turn the cake out onto a rack placed in a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The mounded top of the cake should now be the bottom of the cake. Remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper liner. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into three layers. Handle each layer carefully.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/4 cup apricot preserves with 1/4 cup water. Heat the mixture until preserves dissolve to form syrup. Brush bottom layer with apricot syrup. Spread small amount of apricot preserves on bottom layer. Repeat for the middle layer. Make sure to straighten each layer so that cake is flat and even. Combine any remaining syrup with preserves and brush the entire cake, sealing any holes or cracks.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine corn syrup and 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil. Once syrup has thickened, pour over the remaining 10 ounces of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Stir until chocolate has completely melted. Let cool to touch.
Pour chocolate glaze over cake. Using an offset metal spatula, spread glaze over entire cake. Let glaze harden at room temperature. Chill cake until ready to serve. Yield: 10 slices.