Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sachertorte...the litigious cake!

Baking was intimidating to me prior to beginning my patisserie and baking class. As a future chef, I am used to being free to change recipes at the drop of a hat. Adding or subtracting spices and changing ingredients is part of the creativity and art of a chef. However, a PASTRY chef follows the same age old recipes that have been in existence for hundreds of years.

Pastry chefs are very particular about the procedures used in making their fabulous delicacies. A good example of the proprietary nature of a pastry chef is the tale of the Sachertorte. The cake was invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Klemens Wenzel von Metternich in Vienna, Austria. Sacher was a 16 year old in his 2nd year of apprenticeship when he first made this now famous chocolate cake. The cake consists of two layers of dense, not overly sweet chocolate cake (traditionally a sponge cake) with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and dark chocolate icing on the top and sides. It is traditionally served with whipped cream without any sugar in it as most Viennese consider the Sachertorte too "dry" to be eaten on its own.

The trademark for the "Original Sachertorte" was registered by the Hotel Sacher, which was built in 1876 by the son of Franz Sacher. The recipe is a well-kept secret. Until 1965, Hotel Sacher was involved in a long legal battle with the pastry shop Demel, who had also produced a cake called the "Original Sachertorte." Numerous tales have circulated to explain how Demel came by the recipe. The ongoing battle over the recipe boiled down to whether or not apricot jam should be used and how. The cake at Demel is now called "Demels Sachertorte" and differs from the "Original" in that there is no layer of apricot jam in the middle of the cake, but directly underneath the chocolate cover, covering the entire cake.

Even now, the Sachertorte is a copyright protected recipe.

I find the differences between Culinary Chefs and Pastry Chefs to be more a battle of the wills than anything else and count my lucky stars that I am NOT a pastry chef! However, I too suffer from what most people have...a weakness for sweets. So, for those of you who love chocolate like I's the recipe as close as anyone can guess without a court order...

Sacher Sponge (cake)
9 oz. butter
7.5 oz. Sugar
8 oz. Egg Yolks
12 oz. Egg Whites
4 oz. Sugar
2.5 oz. Cake Flour
2.5 oz. Cocoa
3.5 oz. Blanched Almond Meal

Sift together Cake flour and cocoa. Mix in almond meal by hand. Add butter to mixing bowl and cream the butter with your Kitchenaid Mixer. You can use a regular hand mixer or if you are really into it, by hand (I recommend the mixer). Add 7.5 oz. of sugar and mix on low until blended. Add half the egg yolks and mix. Scrap down sides of mixer when needed. Add the remaining egg yolks and mix. Transfer to large bowl and retain. Make meringue with 12 oz. of egg whites and 4 oz. of sugar. Mix on high until you have stiff, large peaks. Fold meringue into the butter and egg mixture. Gently mix by folding and pour into cake pan. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until springy to touch in center of cake. Cool cake and cut into two equal layers. Set aside and make chocolate ganache...

Chocolate Ganache

12 oz. heavy cream
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate

Melt chocolate in double boiler. Add 12 oz of heated heavy cream and fold together. Chill.
Prepare cake for icing...spread apricot jam on the tops of middle layer. Ice both layers with Ganache retaining enough chocolate ganache to pipe decorations on the top of the cake. Stack layers. Ice entire cake with Ganache. Make it as smooth as you possibly can. Rest for 15 minutes. In the mean time make Sacher glaze...

Sacher Glaze

6 oz. heavy cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 oz. of butter

Melt chocolate in double boiler. Add 6 oz. of heavy cream and mix. Finish with 2 oz. of butter (it will melt into glaze). Pour glaze over entire cake (on a rack). You want it to look poured not spread.

Let rest 5 minutes before you pipe any decorations you may want on the top. It's worth the hard work people!


  1. It took me good three hours to get to recipe that would even resemble what I saw in documentaries about Sacher. They didn't show procedures, but few steps were visible and it didn't look anything like those youtube/allrecipes... recipes. This one I already like and will make it on saturday. Will let you know how it turned out.

  2. Oh, I almost forogt. What temperature do you recomend?