Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Over the weekend, Nico's parents came to visit and we had a little dinner in honor of his birthday. I made all of his favorites. There were 6 adults for dinner. We started the night with cocktails and a few hors d'oeuvres. Then we moved onto dinner - Wiener Schnitzel, potato salad, sauerkraut, and shaved Brussels sprouts. He asks for the same thing ever year for his birthday. I usually make him a cheesecake for his birthday cake, even though I know what he really wants is a Sacher Torte.
Sacher Torte is a legendary cake in Vienna. It was created in 1832 by Franz Sacher. Dense chocolate cake is covered in an apricot marmalade glaze then sealed with glossy chocolate ganache. The original recipe is guarded and the methods used by other bakeries and restaurants just come close to the original. The recipe I have originally came from Nico's Tante Edith (who also taught me how to make her Linzer cookies). But I was just not able to adapt it to US measurements and ingredients.
Last year, I tried to make one for Nico's birthday. I attempted to convert Edith's recipe and do it. It was disastrous! It was way too pale, not dense enough and it crumbled when I spread the apricot glaze over it. I nearly cried. My lovely, lying husband said it was delicious and very close to the original. I almost didn't want to do it over again this year.
But I did. I decided it to give it a try, this time I researched a few adaptations and took keys from a few recipes I have. Including a simplified version from the Hotel Sacher. The result? Well even I was amazed! As it was coming together, I prepared myself for dissapointment. It would be too pale again. It would be too sweet. The chocolate glaze would not cover the apricot. But it all worked out. Not only was Nico more than pleased, but my father in law has pre-requested one for his birthday in May.
It is a little unnerving to make classic Viennese dishes for a table of Austrians. But there is also nothing like having a table of Austrians tell you, "you nailed it!"
Happy 40th birthday to my husband, Nico. I know that together, the next 40 years will be filled with happiness, love and laughter. And your cakes will be filled with apricot.
adapted from The New Sacher Cookbook
For the Cake
9 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
pulp from half a vanilla pod (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
6 eggs separated, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with the oven rack in the center position. Prepare a 9" spring form pan by buttering the sides and laying a circle of parchment paper on the bottom.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high until light. Scrape the sides and add confectioners' sugar. Combine on low, then return to medium high. Add the vanilla and egg yolks one at a time until the mixture is thick and creamy. Add the cooled chocolate.
In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until still and glossy. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in carefully to lighten the batter. Add the remaining egg whites and fold in gently. Sift over the flour and carefully fold with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared spring form pan and spread evenly. Bake for up to 40 minutes but begin to check it at 30 minutes. (I checked mine at 30 minutes and 35 minutes. At around 37 minutes, the top began to burn. It's ok if this happens since your carve off the top to level it out.)
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Then remove it form the pan and allow to finish cooling completely.
For the apricot glaze:
1 jar apricot marmalade
1 tablespoon rum
Over medium high heat, bring the marmalade and rum to a boil. Send through a sieve to remove any large bits. Allow to cool slightly before adding to the cake.
For the chocolate glaze:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Allow to bubble for 5-6 minutes. Add the chocolate and stir until it's all melted. Let it cool slightly. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
When the cake has cooled, it's time to assemble. Place the cake on a cake stand and put strips of parchment underneath to catch any drippings. Begin by leveling the top of the cake. Then slice across the middle of the cake. Fill the middle with apricot glaze, allowing any extra to spill over the sides. Put the top of the cake back on and pour the last of the filling over the top, spreading it evenly over the top and down the sides. Use an offset spatula to ensure the glaze completely covers the entire cake. Allow to set before adding the chocolate.
When the apricot glaze is firm, pour the warm chocolate glaze over the top and allow to spill over the sides. Use an offset spatula to complete coat the cake. Cool until the glaze is set.
Serve the cake with plenty of whipped cream.