“Uncle Otto’s Puppet Theatre” aims to bring to life those of my family in bygone times in Vienna. The taste of Viennese pastries is very much part of that nostalgia. In his delightful ‘Tante Jolesch or The Decline of the West in Anecdotes‘, Austrian author Friedrich Torberg attacks the myth around the famed Sacher torte.
He maintains that the formidable Anna Sacher insisted the original cake should not be sliced through the middle and filled with jam, but instead spread with a thin layer of jam underneath the chocolate icing.
The very first Sacher torte had been dreamt up by the young cook Franz Sacher for Prince Metternich, and my grandfather Arthur enjoyed one version of it at his regular café in Vienna, the Landtmann. In the 1960s, when Torberg wrote his book, the pastry shop Demel, and not Hotel Sacher, made the original recipe.
Here is a succinct recipe for the second version, lifted from Rosl Philpot’s ‘Viennese Cookery‘.
For the cake you’ll need 140 grams butter; 150 grams sugar; 170 grams chocolate; eight eggs and two extra whites; and 150 grams flour. For the icing: 200 grams of sugar, 200 grams chocolate; a quarter of a cup water; and roughly 40 grams apricot jam.
Cream the butter, melt the chocolate, and add the other ingredients to make your rich chocolate sponge mixture. Bake in a greased round cake tin, dusted with flour. Cooking time: one to one-and-a-half hours at 160 oven mark.
When the cake has cooled, slice in half and fill with most of the jam. Spread the rest on the top and sides. For the icing, boil the water and sugar together; when you’ve obtained a glistening icing, cover the cake as neatly as you can. It may not look like Demel’s perfectly smooth production, but that takes practice