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 know Austrian pastry chef at his wholesale bakery. The guy was old-school with very strict standards and he maintained a pretty intense work environment. I will say though, I learned more during the year I worked for him than I did in pastry school. By the time I left that job I could ice a cake in 30 seconds, all while working cleanly and efficiently.
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 Sacher Torte 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.
I jumped right in, figuring the cake would turn out perfectly since I already knew this recipe and had scaled down the ingredients years ago.
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.
As we learned in the Science of Cake Batter Series, a cake batter has structure builders and tenderizers. Since the Sacher 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 Sacher Torte, 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.
Click through the slider to see how to make a classic Sacher Torte:
- 1 1/4 cups (5 oz, 140g) cake flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 1 cup (8 oz, 225g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (8 oz, 225g) granulated sugar, divided in half
- 8 large eggs, separated, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 6 oz (170g) semi-sweet chocolate, melted
- 1 1/2 cups (18oz, 510g) apricot preserves
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60 ml) dark rum
- 8 oz (225g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp (1.4 oz, 40g) corn syrup
- Preheat the oven to 325°F convection or 350°F regular. Line the bottom of a 9 inch 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.
- Cream the butter and 1/2 the granulated sugar until light and aerated. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, mix until combined. Mix in the sifted dry ingredients, don't over mix. Whisk the chocolate into the batter.
- 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 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.
- Using a serrated knife trim the top of the cake so it's flat. Split the cake into 2 layers. Place the bottom layer onto an 8" cardboard cake round (it makes handling the cake easier). Spread 1/3 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 remaining 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.
- 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 cake can be baked a day or two before assembly, or can be made several weeks ahead and frozen.
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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