> Sachertorte
icon Sachertorte (Sacher Cake)

The Sacher Cake is one of the most famous Viennese culinary specialties. The recipe was invented by Franz Sacher who in 1832, when he worked as an apprentice chef for Klemens Wenzel von Metternich. That happened when Franz Sacher was 16. Later on, he had a son named Eduard, who trained at the Demel café in Vienna, became an accomplished baker and chocolatier and developed the recipe into its current form. The Sacher Cake in its current form was first served at the Demel and later at the Sacher Hotel, which Eduard on Philharmonikerstrasse in 1876.

The "Original Sachertorte" recipe is a closely guarded secret and the trademark is owed by by the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. Here is the next best thing: a recipe from "The Chocolate Bible" by Christian Teubner, Karl Schuhmacher, Leopold Forsthofer, Eckart Witzigmann and Sybil Countess of Schonfeldt.

For 1 Sachertorte base:

  • 4 oz couverture
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons confectioner's sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
For the icing:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 13 oz couverture, chopped
You will also need:
  • 9-inch springform pan
  • Parchment paper
  • About 3/4 cup apricot jam for filling and spreading


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. To make the batter, melt the couverture in a double boiler over hot water. Cream the soft butter and confectioners' sugar with the couverture tempered at 89F. Stir in the egg yolks one at a time. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff. Combine the two mixtures and fold in the sifted flour. Line the base of a springform pan with parchment paper. Spoon in the batter and smooth the top. Bake for 55 minutes. Allow to cool. Invert the pan onto parchment paper dusted lightly with sugar. Use a small knife to ease the torte from the sides, and remove from the pan. Cut the base in half horizontally. Heat and strain the jam, and use half to sandwich the two layers together. Place the torte on a piece of cardboard cut to the same size. Coat the torte thinly with the remainder of the hot jam. Gently emphasize the rounded edges of the top. The apricot masking is a base for the icing. It also helps to keep the cake moist and the chocolate glossy.
  2. The recipe for the chocolate icing is generous enough for two tortes. To get a really smooth surface, the icing has to be poured over the torte as shown in the pictures opposite. A certain amount always sticks to the pan, strainer, and table top. It can be scraped up and used again after reheating. Place the iced torte immediately on a firm base and set aside. When the icing has set hard, use a small knife to trim the sides where it has run. Carefully slip a clean damp palette knife under the torte to release it and place on a cake plate.
  3. A big copper pan is still used in the Hotel Sacher to melt the couverture. Master confectioner Friedrich Pfliegler can test the temperature of couverture between his finger and thumb as accurately as a thermometer. with his experience, there is no question of a mistake.
Couverture icing:
  1. Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir the couverture, which has been cut into pieces or melted, into the sugar solution.
  3. Boil to the thick thread stage (230F). Use a damp brush to keep washing down the edges of the pan so that crystals do not form.
  4. Strain the icing into a smaller pan to avoid crystals forming on the sides and building up into lumps.
  5. Pour part of the icing onto a marble slab, while continuing to stir the contents of the pot to prevent a skin forming.
  6. Work the couverture continuously with a palette knife. When it begins to firm up and look somewhat lighter in color, return it to the pot, stir well, pour onto the table, and work again. Return it to the pot once more.
  7. Place the torte on a wire rack over a baking sheet and pour the chocolate directly from the pot onto the top of the torte.
  8. Spread the icing over the top with one or two strokes of the palette knife and then spread evenly around the sides.


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Last updated: October 12, 2010
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.