Saturday, January 8, 2011


Sachertorte is the quintessential Viennese torte.  The Hotel Sacher and Demel (a Viennese bakery and kaffeehaus) fought a 7-year legal battle to determine who would get to use the phrase "Die Echte" ("The Original") on their menu entry for Sachertorte.  It all began in 1832 when a young Franz Sacher baked the cake for Prince Klemens von Metternich.  It was a hit and Sacher took the recipe with him to his new position at Dehne, which was the emperor's official bakery in Vienna.  Sacher eventually left Dehne to open a gourmet grocer, where he sold his Sachertorte.  In later years, Sacher's son, Eduard, opened the Hotel Sacher and Dehne was purchased by Christoph Demel and renamed.  After World War II, the Hotel Sacher sued Demel for the right to use the phrase "die echte" and won.*

My recipe comes mostly from Lilly Joss Reich's The Viennese Pastry Cookbook with Schlagobers (sweetened whipped cream) and Chocolate Glaze recipes from Rick Rodgers's Kaffeehaus.  Rodgers writes that Metternich wanted a cake that was the opposite of the "light, fluffy, creamy 'feminine'" cakes popular at the time, so Sacher created a "dryer, more compact 'masculine' cake."*  Lilly Joss Reich's recipe adds an extra egg white, which she argues keeps the cake more moist.  Extra egg white or not, it is imperative to eat Sachertorte with Schlagobers.

Read about the contest here.  If you bake your own Sachertorte, please submit your comment (on this post) by 11:59 p.m. CST Monday, January 31, 2011.  Good luck!


Recipe notes:
  • Because this recipe contains no baking powder, all that stands between your Sachertorte and a large chocolate cheesecake crust is the air that you beat into the egg whites.  Make sure they are sufficiently stiff and that you fold, not stir, them into the rest of the batter.
  • Even though snobs (and I mean people who are just as snobby as I am, but in different ways) say that chocolate chips are inferior to bars of chocolate, I don't see them volunteering to clean all the little bits of chocolate off my counter.  So, I use chocolate chips, but I use good ones like Guittard or Ghirardelli.  They're tasty and not waxy.  I used the 60% cacao  Ghirardelli chips in this recipe, not the 72% cacao Guittard, mostly because that's what they had at World Market (my favorite chain store ever).
  • About preserves: I think it's best to spend a little extra time and money to get a brand that does not use high-fructose corn syrup.  I know there are a lot of people who will argue sugar is sugar, but I think that using high-fructose corn syrup (which is much cheaper) shows an appalling lack of concern for the quality of the final product--but that's just me, speaking from my soap box.
  • Light or gold rums will work best for the apricot glaze.  Don't use spiced rum!  I'm no expert on rums, so I just used the Bacardi Superior that has been in our fridge for an embarrassingly long time.
  • The chocolate glaze will take forever to heat from 220 degrees to 234 degrees.  Don't panic, don't turn up the heat.  Just be patient!
  • In Kaffeehaus, Rick Rodgers suggests scraping the excess chocolate glaze that is left on the baking sheet, refrigerate it and then use it (with milk) to make hot chocolate.
  • I also think it's imperative to listen to Viennese waltzes while baking (and eating) Sachertorte.

*Rick Rodgers, "The Story Behind Sachertorte," in Kaffeehaus (New York: Clarkson Potter, 2002), 60-61.

Sachertorte on FoodistaSachertorte


  1. Viennese pastry challenge ho! I decided to tackle the sachertorte since it involved tasty chocolate and my Dad's birthday celebration with the family was this past weekend. It seemed like an appropriate birthday dessert. :) The cake turned out a bit drier than I'd prefer - however, I think it's my super basic oven that tends to dry things out. So, next time, I might add some milk or cream to the batter. I also had a little trouble with the chocolate glaze. Once it came to a boil, I turned down the heat to medium and didn't stir it while it heated back up. Again, this might be due to my not-so-great appliance, but it heated back up super quickly. So, my glaze seemed to be a little too runny. It poured it over the top of the cake and then had to keep spooning the mixture over the top of the cake until it started to form. The glaze was tasty though! I will try the apple pastry soon...I'm still waiting on that darn pastry scraper to come off of backorder from William Sonoma. Arg.

  2. Regarding the dryness- like with the Topsy-Turvy cake, your oven might be getting too hot. Also, the cake is actually supposed to be dry (Some baking powder would probably help, but don't tell the Viennese!). It might just not be to your taste!

    We'll have to work on the chocolate glaze. What kind of saucepan did you use? If it wasn't heavy enough, the mixture might have heated too quickly. Did you remember to stir it off the heat for a minute? Maybe we need a chocolate summit to figure out what went wrong.

    I'm sorry this didn't work out better. I want everyone to have perfect results! However, thank you for trying it out. I hope the next recipe turns out better!

  3. Hey there! No worries - It was fine. I was just being nitpicky. Yes, I've checked my oven temperature before (my mother owns a thermometer and I borrowed it maybe a year ago?) and it said my over was fine. Maybe it's me? Even when I try to make brittle or just toast nuts, things seem to heat up really quickly. I've learned to keep a close eye on things. As for the glaze - mea culpa - I DID forget to take the chocolate off of the burner and stir for a minute. Oops.
    Thanks for being my coach!
    -Rebecca :)

  4. I'm glad we figured out the problem with the glaze, although it looks nice in your photo.

    Ovens are a pain. The one I have now is slow, but only above about 375. We actually had three different ovens in our first year in our apartment in Norman! The first one got dangerously hot, they replaced it with one that wouldn't get above about 350 degrees, and then we finally got an oven that was "just right!"

  5. I tried the sacher torte, but I have to give this recipe another go. I was in a bit of a rush when I made (my fault, entirely). The sponge part came out fine, but not so chocolate-ey. I didn't use the high chocolate content chips that you used, and it made a big difference (in a bad way). I think regular chocolate chips are only 30 percent chocolate mass.
    My real problem came when I glazed the cake. I was in a bit of a rush, like I said, and I was not so careful about the apricot glaze. The chocolate glaze was smooth on top, but lumpy on the sides because of the apricot jam. I made this in an hour instead of two days. Oh, well . . . live and learn.
    I am determined to nail this because it is one of my dad's favorite cakes.

  6. Laura- I'm amazed that you made it in an hour! Just the cake part probably took me that amount of time. I'm a slow cook!

    Thanks for participating in the contest. I hope next time works out better. Don't use regular chocolate chips! :-)


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