Tuesday, 16 February 2016
If you asked me what my favourite cake was, I'd reply "Sacher Torte". Yet I don't often eat it, in fact I don't even remember when it was the last time that I had it. Maybe when we visited Austria and Sasha was about Eddie's age, we spent a week in a small Austrian town which name now eludes me. We stayed in a hotel and ate in many different cafes and restaurants, trying to find one, where our fussy little eater would be happy to eat.
I also remember being totally obsessed by that cake, when I was pregnant with Sasha. My husband travelled a few times to Austria then, and every time brought back a few wooden boxes of that wonderful chocolate cake.
It is a luxurious cake, with intense dark chocolate flavour, sweetened by an aromatic apricot jam.
In search of a perfect recipe for Sacher Torte, I consulted a selection of my cook books. And the recipes were all quite different, the amount of eggs ranged from 4 to 10, depending on the author, and the amount of apricot jam was varied too - from a couple of tablespoons to a staggering 220g of jam.
Which books did I go through? Cakes from around the world by Julie Duff, Delia's Cakes, DK Everyday Easy Cakes & Cupcakes and an American edition of Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers.
The last one is a brilliant source of stories behind each scrumptious dessert, but a bit of a pain if you are used to a metric system. I do find cups and ounces very confusing, and converting a long list of ingredients online is a bit of a faffle, so I just read this book as a novel, but never actually use it as a cook book. But if you fancy reading the story behind the famous Sacher Torte, this is the right book.
It says "Sachertorte is the culinary symbol of Vienna, as recognisable as The Blue Danube". It was invented in 1832 in Vienna.
Because for many years the recipe for this wonderful cake was a top guarded secret, many Viennese bakers tried to come up with their own interpretation of the recipe. Some leave the cake as one layer, some cut it into two layers and spread the jam in between. There are also recipes suggesting cutting it into three layers, and even using the raspberry jam (sacrilege, if you ask me, lol).
200g caster sugar
5 eggs, separated
200g dark chocolate
vanilla pod (or vanilla essence)
200g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
4 heaped tbsp apricot jam
200g dark chocolate + 150g double cream for frosting
Preheat the oven to 180C. Beat together butter and caster sugar until fluffy. Melt the chocolate over the hot water basin, add to the cake batter and mix well. Add egg yolks, one by one, keeping mixing well. Add the vanilla seeds or vanilla essence, flour and baking flour. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until fluffy, but not stiff like for meringues. Fold carefully into the cake batter. Pour the cake mix into the oiled spring cake tin, lined with a parchment. Bake for 45 minutes or so, until the toothpick comes clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin. Take out and spread the apricot jam over the still warm cake.
Once completely cooled, make the frosting. Melt the dark chocolate and beat with the double cream. Spread over the top and sides.
I dare you not to lick the bowl where the frosting was made.
As I baked this cake for Valentine's day, I added a heart made with milk chocolate icing pen and some bronze sprinkles.
You will need a good quality apricot jam for this cake, one which is soft and spreads easily. Some apricot preserves are too tough, you can almost cut them with a knife. I used Duerr's Apricot Jam, which has just the right balance of flavours and texture. The apricot jam might be not the main ingredient but it plays an important part, as it adds a distinct flavour to the chocolate cake.