The classic Sacher Torte is made with chocolate cake layers, apricot preserves and a shiny chocolate-glaze finish. It’s a lovely cake fit for any occasion.
For my first job fresh out of pastry school, I worked for a well known Austrian pastry chef at his wholesale bakery. The guy was old-school with very strict standards and he maintained a pretty intense work environment.
Though he was a harsh task master, the recipes I got from the Austrian pastry chef are rock solid. More than 25 years later I still use them. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to translate one of those recipes for home baking.
I’ve had the classic Sachertorte recipe on my list of post ideas for quite some time. I finally looked up the recipe in my old book so I could share it with you.
After baking, decorating, slicing and photographing the cake I took a taste. It seemed a little dry to me. This is a different kind of cake from the usual rich butter cakes filled with buttercream. But still, I wasn’t happy with it and knew it could be better.
I waited a day and tasted the cake again. It was a little better. I think the preserves had a chance to absorb into the cake, making it a little softer. But I still wasn’t satisfied. The basic ingredients wouldn’t change, but it did need some tweaking.
- Cake flour
- Baking powder
- Table salt
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Semi sweet chocolate
- Apricot preserves
- Dark rum
- Corn syrup
How to make Sacher Torte
- Make the cake batter base. Fold some of the batter into the melted chocolate to lighten it, then fold that back into the batter.
- In three batches, fold the whipped whites into the chocolate cake batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Allow the cake to cool completely.
- Slice the crust off the top of the cake then “torte” the cake into 2 even layers.
- Spread apricot preserves over the bottom layer of the cake. Top with the other layer.
- Strain the preserves to remove the large chunks of fruit.
- Ice the cake with the strained apricot preserves and let the cake air dry for at least 1 hour.
- Pour the chocolate glaze over the cake and let the glaze set before decorating.
How to Get the Right Texture for Your Sacher Torte
As we learned in the Science of Cake Batter Series, a cake batter has structure builders and tenderizers. Since the cake was a little dry, I needed to up the tenderizers and reduce the structure builders.
Sugar is a tenderizer, so I increased the sugar from 3/4 cup in the original recipe to a full cup. I reduced the eggs (structure builder) from 9 to 8 and reduced the other structure builder (flour) from 1 1/4 cups to 1 cup.
That did the trick. This cake still has the classic taste and texture of a true Sachertorte, but is a little softer. I do like the cake better after a day or two when the preserves have had time to absorb into the cake. Which means, of course, that this is a great recipe to make ahead.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- For the cake batter, melt the chocolate and allow it to cool enough that it’s still liquid, but it won’t melt the butter when you add it to the batter.
- Make sure the mixing bowl is perfectly clean for whipping the egg whites.
- I prefer to bake 1 cake and split it into two layers for a softer crumb. If you’re not comfortable splitting (torting) a cake you can bake the cake in 2 pans.
- Make sure to let the apricot coating set before glazing the cake with the chocolate. You’ll get a nicer finish if the apricot isn’t runny when you glaze the cake.
- To glaze the cake, pour all the glaze on the top of the cake. Use a small offset spatula to push the glaze over the sides of the cake and to fill in any holes before the glaze sets.
- Once the glaze sets, slide a spatula under the cake to detach it from the rack. Lift the cake onto a serving plate.
Sacher torte was invented by Austrian Chef Franz Sacher. A classic Sachertorte is made up of chocolate cake layers filled with apricot preserves and covered in dark chocolate glaze. It is often served with unsweetened whipped cream. The “original” cake is still sold at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna.
Gateaux is plural for “gateau” which is the French word for cake. Torte is a German word for cake and usually refers to a cake with multiple layers.
Sachertorte is easier to make than a souffle. Although you have to whip egg whites as you do for a souffle, a sacher torte batter has flour that stabilizes the mixture so it can not “fall” like a souffle.
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Classic Sacher Torte Recipe
- 4 ½ ounces cake flour (1 cup)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 8 ounces unsalted butter (1 cup, room temperature)
- 8 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup, divided in half)
- 8 large eggs (separated, room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate (melted)
- 18 ounces apricot preserves (1 ½ cups)
- 2 ounces dark rum (¼ cup)
- 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate (chopped)
- 4 ounces unsalted butter (½ cup)
- 1 ½ ounces corn syrup (2 tablespoons)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line the bottom of a 9"x3" cake pan with parchment paper or butter and flour the bottom of the pan. You don't need to butter/flour the sides of the pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.4 ½ ounces cake flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon table salt
- Cream the butter and ½ the granulated sugar until light and aerated, about 1-2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, mix until combined. Mix in the sifted dry ingredients, don't over mix. Whisk the melted chocolate into the batter.8 ounces unsalted butter, 8 ounces granulated sugar, 8 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate
- Whip the egg whites to soft peak. Slowly add the remaining sugar and whip to full peak. Fold the egg whites into the batter in 3rds, mixing just until there are no streaks of egg white visible.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread to an even level and bake until the middle of the cake springs back when pressed or a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a cooling rack until completely cooled (see note).
- Stir the rum into the apricot preserves.18 ounces apricot preserves, 2 ounces dark rum
- Using a serrated knife, trim the top of the cake so it's flat. Split the cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place the bottom layer onto an 8" cardboard cake round (it makes handling the cake easier). Spread ⅓ of the apricot mixture onto the bottom layer and place the top layer onto the cake.
- Warm the remaining apricot preserves in the microwave for 30 seconds. Strain the preserves into a clean bowl to remove the chunky bits of fruit. Ice the top and sides of the cake with the strained apricot preserves. Place the cake onto a cooling rack set over a clean sheet pan. Allow the cake to air-dry for at least an hour.
- Microwave the the chocolate with the butter in 30 second increments until both are melted. Add the corn syrup to the chocolate/butter mixture. Pour the warm glaze over the cake, using a small spatula to fill in any gaps. Allow the glaze to set before moving to a serving platter.8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, 4 ounces unsalted butter, 1 ½ ounces corn syrup
- For the traditional design, pipe the word "Sacher" onto the cake using melted chocolate. You can use any extra glaze to pipe a border on the cake. Store and serve at room temperature.
- The assembled cake will improve for a day or two after being iced as the apricot preserves absorb into the cake.
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