Monday, September 19, 2011

Sächer Torte

Sächer Torte is arguably the world’s most famous cake. Its public début to Europe’s aristocracy in 1832 made Vienna’s Hotel Sächer (and this cake) a sensation. The recipe for the original torte is a secret, but this version from The Joy of Cooking - which I’ve modified - is surprisingly easy to make. You’ll need a 9-inch spring-form pan (the kind with a removable ring) to make this cake, which should never be pried or pounded from the pan. Because I used a 10-inch pan, my cake was slightly broader and shallower, but every bit as delicious. If you use a 10-in. pan, reduce the recipe’s baking time by 5 min.
Other special tools I used? A food processor makes quick work of grating the chocolate for the cake. A horizontal cake slicer (as pictured on my June 17, 2011 blog for Boston Cream Pie) and a fan-type spatula (pictured on the same date’s blog) are very handy tools. And a candy thermometer is useful for preparing the Chocolate Glaze to top this lovely cake. But none of these is essential.
The lightness of this cake is entirely dependent upon the seven egg whites in it. Resist the temptation to bang your beater blades on the side of the bowl after you’ve beaten those whites, or you’ll damage the lovely air pockets you’ve created by whipping the whites until they’re stiff. Grease and flour the bottom of your pan, but don’t grease the sides, or your cake won’t gain the foothold it needs to rise over its hour-long baking time. Savor this cake’s time in the oven! Your kitchen will be scented with the most delicious aroma of chocolate as it bakes! 
I have many, many favorite recipes for chocolate cake - some with ground hazelnuts, some with sour cream, some light, some dark, some with several different types and flavors of chocolate. While Sächer Torte isn’t my very favorite chocolate cake, it’s near the top of the heap. The only thing better than serving it in my kitchen would be people-watching over a slice of Sächer Torte served with dark, rich coffee and a large dollop of Schlag - unsweetened whipping cream - in the Hotel Sächer’s café. My mother was born in Vienna: It’s been my life-long wish to go there! If I ever do, I’ll send you a postcard!
Back to our cake: I used to buy baker’s slabs of costly Callebaut chocolate to make cakes as special as this. But a professional chef recently told me that using Lindt 70% dark chocolate was every bit as good. I find Baker’s-brand squares are also an excellent product. The Bakers chocolate squares I used for this cake and its glaze cost roughly $8. With quality chocolate essential to the taste and texture of this cake, don’t cut corners, Dollinks!
I consider myself fortunate that I don’t crave treats like this. If I did, I’d be even cuddlier than I am now! Baking Sächer Torte satisfies my desire to create and enjoy something special, but a sample is ample. Ron and I will be sharing this special cake with friends, and I hope you’ll do the same. Sächer Torte makes a fine conclusion to a delicious Austrian meal! 
Sächer Torte:
This cake has three parts - the cake itself, the filling, and the glaze.
To Prepare the Cake:
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
½ c. butter (no substitutes)
½ c. sugar 
6 egg yolks
¾ c. fine, dry bread crumbs 
¼ c. finely ground blanched almonds
¼ tsp. salt
7 egg whites
Have all ingredients at room temperature. That’s always a good idea when you bake, because it helps the ingredients to combine better and helps produce the air pockets that result in a product that rises well. If I plan to bake in the morning, I usually take everything from the fridge the night before. Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. 
Grate chocolate into bowl and set aside (My food processor did this job in less than five seconds!). Using electric mixer, beat butter well, gradually adding sugar. Cream at least 5 min., until

Combine butter and sugar.

mixture is pale yellow, without a trace of graininess. Separate eggs, adding yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the grated chocolate, bread crumbs, ground almonds, and salt, continuing to beat at high speed. Mixture will feel grainy. Set aside.

Break eggs ...

Separate whites from yolks.

Add grated chocolate.

Add bread crumbs and ground almonds.

Finish beating. 

Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

In a separate bowl, beat reserved six whites and one extra white until stiff, but not dry. Using a “lift and twist” motion, fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into 9-inch or 10-inch spring-form pan with ungreased sides and a greased and floured bottom. 

Spring-form pan with removable rim.

Pour into spring-form pan.

Bake 50-to-60 min. Cake is ready when toothpick inserted at the center comes out dry, or when top springs back when lightly touched. Do not over-bake. When cake is completely cool, slice horizontally into two layers. Open each layer flat and set aside. 

Remove cake from oven; cool completely.

Slice into cooled cake horizontally.

To Prepare the Filling:
⅔ c. apricot jelly or jam 
Warm the jelly in a pan over very low heat until it starts to liquify. Spread over one layer of cake, pressing both layers gently together. Place filled cake on large square of parchment paper; set aside.

Spread with apricot filling.

To Prepare the Glaze:
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp. butter (no substitutes)
1 c. sugar
3 tbsp. strong coffee plus enough water to make 1/3 c. 
Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over simmering water (see Note). Set aside. In a separate pan, combine sugar, coffee, and water, stirring constantly to form a syrup. Boil gently until syrup reaches 230 deg. F. or until water-drop test shows syrup has reached the thread stage (see Note). 

Combine chocolate and butter in double boiler.

In a separate pot, combine water, coffee, and sugar.

Bring resulting syrup to a boil.

Slowly pour syrup into chocolate.

Return double boiler containing chocolate mixture to stove element set at medium heat. Slowly pour syrup into chocolate, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Beat well until shiny and smooth. Wiping steam from bottom of double boiler or metal bowl, pour glaze over cake, starting from the center and ensuring enough drips over edges to glaze the sides. Allow glaze to cool and set. Transfer cake to serving dish. Serves 16-to-20 small slices. 

Pour glaze over cake.
Note: If you dont own a double boiler, position a stainless steel mixing bowl over a pot of water. The thread stage of sugar-syrup making occurs when your syrup reaches a temperature of 223-to-235 deg. F. No candy thermometer? Test for this stage by dropping a small spoonful of very hot syrup into very cold water. If the syrup forms thread-like strands, youve achieved the correct temperature. If it forms a soft ball, cook it a little longer. It should take about 3 min. for your sugar-syrup to reach the thread stage, using a medium pan and medium heat. 

This torte is richer than I’ll ever be! Serve very small slices with 
unsweetened whipped cream, just as the Viennese do!

You may have a little leftover chocolate glaze. Call 1-800-RON-EATS. Hell take care of the problem.

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