First, a disclaimer: this isn’t real sachertorte — it couldn’t possibly be.
The real recipe is 179-year-old secret!
Often imitated, never duplicated, the real thing only comes from the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria. That doesn’t stop other people (people like me) from trying to make their own, of course.
And why not? The original sachertorte was created by a teenage kitchen apprentice! Which means that you or I can definitely make it, too.
Basically, a sachertorte is a chocolate spongecake with apricot filling, a coat of apricot glaze, then covered in a rich, chocolate icing… sounds kinda awesome, right? Especially since apricots are in season again (but don’t worry — you can use jarred apricot preserves).
Fair warning: this cake is a bit of a process. Not so much in effort or difficultly, though, but in time and chilling and dirty dishes.
Definitely read through the whole recipe before you start.
Because of the time you have to put in to make it, this is definitely a good “special occasion” cake, but…
The day you make your own sachertorte becomes a special occasion in itself!
Sachertorte (Chocolate Spongecake with Apricot Filling)
- 1 cup (170g/6oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon icing sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 & 1/2 cup apricot preserves or good quality jam
- 1 & 1/3 cup (225g/8oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup whip cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon brandy (optional, but recommended)
Separate the egg yolks and whites while the eggs are cold. Let warm to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, then place the pan on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler. Scrape the chocolate into a large bowl and whisk in the softened butter and icing sugar. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and vinegar until frothy, then add the white sugar and beat until the egg whites just begin to hold stiff peaks.
Add the melted chocolate mixture and cake flour to the whipped egg whites, scraping down the sides of the bowl — make certain everything is well incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly, and smooth the top.
Bake for 50 ~ 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled, turn it over so that the bottom of the cake becomes a level and smooth work surface, then cut the cake in half horizontally. Set aside the top half so that the cake can be filled with apricot preserves.
Warm the apricot preserves in a saucepan over low heat.
Divide in half, and use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to work half of the preserves through a fine-mesh strainer. Return any large chunks of apricots to the other half of the preserves.
Evenly spread the chunky, un-strained preserves over the bottom half of the cut cake. Place the level top half of the cake on top of the preserves.
Use a pastry brush or a knife to gently spread the strained apricot glaze over the top and sides of the cake. This will help seal in moisture and create a smooth surface for the chocolate ganache.
Chill the cake for 30 minutes.
To make the chocolate ganache, first place the bittersweet chocolate in a heat proof bowl. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the whip cream, butter, and brandy until just before it simmers.
Pour the hot whip cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes.
Use a spatula (and not a whisk, unless you want unsightly air bubbles in your ganache) to gently stir the whip cream and chocolate together until they become a smooth, shiny glaze — at first, when you stir ganache, it will look like everything is turning out wrong, but just keep stirring!
Pour the chocolate ganache over the apricot glazed cake and spread over the top and sides. If desired, reserve a bit of warm ganache for decoratively drizzling over the cake after the first coat of ganache has been set in the fridge.
Chill the cake for 30 minutes to set the ganache before drizzling any remaining ganache over top.
Return to the refrigerator and set the decorative ganache, if necessary, before serving.
Store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator, making sure to press clingfilm or wax paper to any exposed edges of sliced cake (this will help prevent the cake from drying out).
There you have it — homemade sachertorte! Or as close as you can get without going to Vienna.
Traditionally, sachertorte is served with a side of unsweetened whipped cream and with a cup of hot coffee, which helps to balance the sweetness and dryness of the spongecake.
One day I’m going to get to Austria and stay at the Hotel Sacher — one day!
In the meantime, though, I’ve got a pot of coffee brewing. Yum!