Sacher torte is a dense chocolate cake that originated in Austria. The cake is cut into two or three layers and spread with apricot filling between each layer, and the tops and sides are coated in a chocolate ganache glaze. This cake is well known as a national favorite in Austria!
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Gather Round, Gather Round
Sit down, boys and girls, it’s story time.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (or close, I guess, depending on where you live when you read this…. Ah, the beauty of a global world) there lived a man named Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki– try saying that 5 times fast.
Jerzy was an officer in Austria. He had just witnessed the Polish-Habsburg army (the army of what is now Austria) defeat the Ottoman Army (the army of what is now Turkey) and lift the Turkish siege of Vienna, Austria. In their fleet, the Ottoman army left behind some old sacks of brown, dried beans in Austria. Upon inspection, the Polish king Jan III Sobieski (of current day Austria) determined that the beans had no use, so he handed them over to our pal Jerzy.
Now, Jerzy was a man with both brawn AND brains. He had spent some time as a Turkish captive back in his day. As a result, he knew full-well that he had just been handed a very delicious (and lucrative) gift. He knew what to do to turn those ugly beans into a nearly magical potion. The moral? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Oh, by the way, we’re talking about coffee.
Changing the History of Coffee
My man Jerzy takes credit for making those bitter beans taste more delicious by adding sugar and milk. In 1865, the very first coffee shop opened in Vienna. Since the day of its opening, coffee has impacted Viennese culture in an astounding way. Coffee houses provide an opportunity for human connection, a break from the stress of life, and a fantastic place to satisfy your sweet tooth. In the middle of a coffee shop, the magic of Vienna becomes most evident.
What Does This Have to Do with Sacher Torte?
Sacher torte is a very popular recipe to enjoy alongside a delicious cup of coffee in Vienna. Sacher torte’s origin is an interesting story… Though there are many recipes that are unclear in origin, the sacher torte is not one of them. The large “sacher” written in chocolate on the top of the cake– and the fact that it shares a name with its creator– removes any doubt about who created the recipe.
Almost every coffee and cake shop features sacher torte on their menu, and for good reason. It is one of the most popular desserts in the country (alongside apfel strudel and kaiserschmarrn). The cake is dense and bittersweet. Filled with apricot jam and then covered in a chocolate glaze, this cake screams Vienna.
Did you like this Viennese sacher torte recipe? Check out the papaya pie from Antigua and Barbuda and these lamingtons from Australia. If you share a photo of your sacher torte on social media, tag #theforeignfork in your caption!
Austrian Sacher Torte
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 8 eggs separated
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup apricot preserve
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 ⅓ cups chocolate chips)
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave; set aside.
- Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl with a mixer until creamy.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time, blending after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- Fold in the chocolate and flour.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least 1 hour.
- To make the apricot glaze, heat the apricot preserve with the lemon juice for few seconds in the microwave.
- Once completely cooled, using a long serrated knife, trim the top of the cake to level it. Cut the cake horizontally into two equal layers.
- Place the bottom layer in a cake stand. Brush the top of the cake layer with the apricot glaze.
- Place the second cake layer on top and brush again. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining glaze. Let cool for about 10 minutes in open air.
- Make the chocolate ganache
- Melt the butter in a double boiler over medium-high heat. Add the chocolate and corn syrup and cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla.
- Pour all of the warm chocolate ganache on top of the cake.
- Using an offset spatula, gently smooth the ganache over the cake, allowing it to run down the sides.
- Refrigerate until the ganache is completely set, at least 1 hour. Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving.