Saturday, 16 April 2011

Afternoon Tea with the Girls, Part One: Sacher Torte

Recently when I was back in Adelaide I decided to catch up with Jody and Jordana, the girls from work, for afternoon tea. I thought I'd get Nanna's china out and use proper tea cups, because what better time to use them then an actual afternoon tea? I really do think tea tastes better from fine china... delusional, perhaps, but something has to outweigh the fact that they need to be washed carefully by hand!

(although, I think the fact that they're so goshdarned pretty just about does it, don't you?)

I decided to make something chocolately and something with a bit more kick, just to keep everyone happy, so I opted for a Sacher torte (which has long held my curiousity), and Dutch ginger biscuits (because I knew I had the ingredients in my cupboards, and they looked quick and easy). I will put the ginger biscuits in a separate post, but for now, you only (only?!) get the Sacher torte, apparently named after the man who invented it back in 1832 (they say nobody knows the true recipe, but everyone knows that it involves apricot jam). I got my recipe from AWW Bake, although I'm fairly certain it appears in at least one other of their range of big, fat books, and perhaps more.

So, what do you notice about these ingredients?

That's right - no raising agents in sight. This indicates that it would be a flat cake, much like many flourless ones, which rely on beaten egg white to give them levity.

First you melt 150g of your chocolate, then you stir in a tablespoon of water (yes, really!) and let that cool. At this point I began to freak out because it was a bit grainy, but don't be me - it was fine. Meanwhile, beat 150g of your butter with 1/2c castor sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in one egg yolk at a time, then stir in your chocolate mixture. Then you add the sifted flour and mix it all together.

Next, making sure to clean your beaters thoroughly (otherwise the egg whites won't stiffen), beat your 3 egg whites until soft peaks form. Add 2tbsp castor sugar, beating until dissolved, then once that's done and you have soft peaks, fold that into your chocolate mix in two batches. Bake in a 22cm round, deep, greased and lined tin at 180oC (160oCF/F) for about half an hour.

... and boy, did it lack levity!

(just so you don't think I'm a totally crap cook, that cake has already been split into layers (a.k.a. "torting") and coated in apricot jam. It didn't come out with that crack on the top and it isn't suffering from some kind of festering skin disorder or third degree burns!)

I was concerned that it was too dry - it was fairly crumbly to the point that it cracked when I split it in two to spread the heated, strained apricot jam on it (half for the middle of the cake, half for the the outside, leave to dry for about an hour), but when I ate it I discovered that it was absolutely fine. I suppose heating the jam helped it to penetrate and moisten the cake. Heh heh, no great surprises about it turning out ok, though - any incarnation of chocolate cake with jam in it is fine by me! The chocolate icing (125g dark chocolate, 125g butter, melt over double boiler, let cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable consistency - typical of my impatience, I sped the cooling process up by using water bath, a.k.a. my kitchen sink) was, well, the icing on the cake. Perfect.

I also went with a fairly slack form of icing - the deliberate, messy swirl - because I know that smooth icing is not my forte!

But be warned - you only need quite a skinny piece. You can always come back for more. And also, if you refrigerate it, let it warm up to room temperature before consuming it, otherwise you won't get the full chocolate flavour (this piece was actually microwaved for about twelve seconds to take the whiteness of refrigerated chocolate out of it).

I said a skinny slice!

(multiplied by as many times as your li'l heart desires)


  1. That was one delicious Sacher Torte! Jared loved the piece I took home :) Thanks xx

  2. I agree that tea tastes better when consumed from china cups, the finer the better.


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