This torte has become the symbol of Viennese confectionery worldwide. Unfortunately, it has had many imitators. Karl Schuhmacher has a simple solution to the problem—he relies on the best ingredients and professional methods, as he explains:
Sachertorte is a timeless composition of the most important and finest ingredients from the confectioner's kitchen with no additives: pure chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, flour, and apricot jam. What makes them into a Sachertorte is the quality of the individual ingredients and the way they harmonize perfectly with each other. Anything else is just an ordinary chocolate torte with ordinary chocolate icing and often looks nothing like the real thing. It is important to remember that, above all, the Sachertorte must be served correctly. It must be served fresh with freshly beaten, lightly sweetened cream, which the Austrians call "Schlagobers." without this cool, smooth, elegant finishing touch, the pleasure is incomplete. It would be a sin, a crime even, if the waiter did not recommend it. The sweet velvety coating is a cooked chocolate icing.
Makes one 9-inch torte
For 1 Sachertorte base:
4 oz couverture
1/2 cup soft butter
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour, sifted
For the icing:
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
13 oz couverture, chopped
You will also need:
9-inch springform pan
About 3/4 cup apricot jam for filling and spreading
Preheat the oven to 350F. To make the batter, melt the couverture in a double boiler over hot water. Cream the soft butter and confectioners' sugar with the couverture tempered at 89F. Stir in the egg yolks one at a time. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff. Combine the two mixtures and fold in the sifted flour. Line the base of a springform pan with parchment paper. Spoon in the batter and smooth the top. Bake for 55 minutes. Allow to cool. Invert the pan onto parchment paper dusted lightly with sugar. Use a small knife to ease the torte from the sides, and remove from the pan. Cut the base in half horizontally. Heat and strain the jam, and use half to sandwich the two layers together. Place the torte on a piece of cardboard cut to the same size. Coat the torte thinly with the remainder of the hot jam. Gently emphasize the rounded edges of the top. The apricot masking is a base for the icing. It also helps to keep the cake moist and the chocolate glossy.
The recipe for the chocolate icing is generous enough for two tortes. To get a really smooth surface, the icing has to be poured over the torte as shown in the pictures opposite. A certain amount always sticks to the pan, strainer, and table top. It can be scraped up and used again after reheating. Place the iced torte immediately on a firm base and set aside. When the icing has set hard, use a small knife to trim the sides where it has run. Carefully slip a clean damp palette knife under the torte to release it and place on a cake plate.
A big copper pan is still used in the Hotel Sacher to melt the couverture. Master confectioner Friedrich Pfliegler can test the temperature of couverture between his finger and thumb as accurately as a thermometer. with his experience, there is no question of a mistake.
photos on left
Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.
Stir the couverture, which has been cut into pieces or melted, into the sugar solution.
Boil to the thick thread stage (230F). Use a damp brush to keep washing down the edges of the pan so that crystals do not form.
photos on right
Strain the icing into a smaller pan to avoid crystals forming on the sides and building up into lumps.
Pour part of the icing onto a marble slab, while continuing to stir the contents of the pot to prevent a skin forming.
Work the couverture continuously with a palette knife. When it begins to firm up and look somewhat lighter in color, return it to the pot, stir well, pour onto the table, and work again. Return it to the pot once more.
Place the torte on a wire rack over a baking sheet and pour the chocolate directly from the pot onto the top of the torte.
Spread the icing over the top with one or two strokes of the palette knife and then spread evenly around the sides.
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