Who has never given in to a tasty slice of Sachertorte while visiting Vienna?
Anyone walking in the streets would certainly not be able to resist the charm of the Austrian capital, and not fall in love with this magical city, home to artists, philosophers, and musicians. But it would be even more difficult not to fall in love with its most delicious pastry specialty, the attraction of a whole country: the Sachertorte!
What is the origin of Sachertorte?
But who invented this legendary cake consisting of two layers of chocolate sponge cake, separated by a layer of apricot jam, completely covered with chocolate icing? And where can we taste a slice of the original sachertorte recipe?
On December 19, 1816, the inventor of one of the most famous cakes in the world, the Austrian Franz Sacher, was born in Vienna. We owe the invention of the Sachertorte to this young Jewish pastry chef, Franz Sacher who created it in 1832 in the Austrian capital.
At the age of 16, Franz Sacher worked as an apprentice pastry chef in the kitchens of Prince Klemens von Metternich, Chancellor of the Habsburg Empire. One day in 1832, Chancellor Metternich asked that a special cake be prepared for his precious guests, uttering the following threatening phrase:
“Dass er mir aber keine Schand ‘macht, heut’ Abend !” (I shall not be ashamed tonight)
That day, however, the pastry chef in charge, Franz Sacher’s superior, was very ill, so it was up to Sacher to prepare a new dessert.
Taking advantage of his ingenuity, his love of chocolate and his ability to work with it, Franz Sacher proposed to the Chancellor a soft and fluffy cake, consisting of two thick layers of chocolate sponge separated by apricot jam, completely covered with a very special chocolate icing. Legend has it that after tasting it, Metternich yelled an ovation of enthusiasm.
The Sachertorte was very successful, first with Metternich, then across Europe. In the years that followed, Franz Sacher worked in Bratislava, Pressburg, Vienna and Budapest where he offered his Sachertorte, which was a great success. In 1848 he returned to Vienna and opened a delicatessen.
In the following years, Eduard, one of Franz’s sons, born in 1843, started to work as an apprentice at Café Demel, imperial pastry shop of Emperor Franz Joseph and the famous Empress Sissi. He proposed the Sachertorte by perfecting the recipe inherited from his father every single day.
In 1876 Eduard founded the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna. However, a copy of the recipe was forgotten in the laboratories of Demel, leading to the fact that the imperial pastry shop appropriated the recipe of the cake, selling it with the mention “Original Sacher-Torte”.
This is where the battle started, one of the most famous culinary conflicts in Europe. With the help of lawyers, judges, and certified papers, this conflict, which lasted several years, did not end until 1962, when the Austrian Supreme Court ruled that only the cakes of the Hotel Sacher could boast of the name “original”.
At the famous pastry shop Demel, located at Kohlmarkt 14, all that was left was to offer their version bearing the name “Demels Sachertorte” or “Eduard Sachertorte”.
The Sachertorte today
Hotel Sacher, the only one to produce the 100% authentic Sachertorte, covered with a glaze made from a mixture of 3 different types of chocolate, all kept secret just like the recipe, now produces more than 290 000 cakes per year, which can also be purchased online.
In fact, in recent years, to keep pace with globalization, Hotel Sacher has begun shipping cakes all over the world. Thanks to its special preparation, the cake manages to travel from one country to another, enclosed in fancy wooden boxes with golden corners. Be careful though! The Sachertorte should never be stored in a refrigerator. It must be kept at a temperature of about 63 F, even during transport.
Do not trust any pastry chef who will try to make you believe that their Sachertorte was prepared according to the original recipe. Even if their cake is heavenly with a perfect icing, it is clear that the pastry chef will certainly not have access to the original recipe. In fact, the Sacher house keeps it in a safe, as if it were the legendary Fort Knox gold reserve. And the recipe does not even appear in the cookbooks of the Sacher house. The original recipe of this Sachertorte has started one of the most intense disputes in the history of world gastronomy.
The original Sachertorte can be purchased at the Sacher Hotels in Vienna and Salzburg, but also in Bolzano, in northern Italy, in the Sacher shop of the famous Piazza Walther, the only retailer in the world authorized to sell the original Sachertorte, outside of Austria.
So, do you prefer the Sachertorte prepared at the Hotel Sacher or the Sachertorte prepared by the Demel pastry shop? Even after centuries, among the tourists who visit Vienna every year, there is still doubt as to the most delicious version of this Austrian dessert!
I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful city of Vienna in May 2015. The opportunity to stop at the famous Sacher hotel and sample the authentic and famous Sachertorte. An unforgettable experience, although I must admit that I preferred the torte recipe of Demel pastry shop, a little more airy and moist, and with a more pronounced chocolate taste.
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- ½ cup unsalted butter , softened
- ½ cup icing sugar
- 6 eggs , separated
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 10 oz. apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 oz. heavy cream
- Springform pan (9 inches / 23 cm)
Preheat oven to 350 F (175˚C). Lightly butter a springform pan.
- Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Beat butter with icing sugar until creamy. Stir in melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.
- In a bowl, beat the egg whites with the sugar. Gently fold into the chocolate mixture, then stir in flour. Pour into the pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the edges begin to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then unmold by running a knife around the cake if necessary.
- Allow the cake to cool completely on the base of the springform pan. Once cool, remove from pan and slice the cake in half horizontally.
- Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan.
- When the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of rum. Brush half of the syrup on the cut side of the lower part of the cake.
- Puree the apricot preserves with 1 tablespoon of water until smooth.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat in a small saucepan and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of rum, then spread the jam mixture on the cut side of the bottom cake.
- Place the top of the cake on the bottom. Brush the outside of the cake with the remaining syrup and refrigerate until the icing is ready.
- In a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Melt over a double boiler. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil.
- Stir the cream into the melted chocolate. Let cool a few minutes.
- Spread the icing on and around the cake.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. You can serve with whipped cream as well as a Viennese hot chocolate.