When I crave chocolate cake, it’s rarely for those very light, fat free sponges that come out of the oven like huge chocolate clouds and don’t taste of all that much if we’re honest. What I crave are those dense, damp, heady kind of cakes. Turns out what I crave is a Sachertorte.
Does a Sachertorte qualify as a cake? Is a torte a cake? Hell if I know. I hadn’t even really heard of Sachertorte until a photo in my Green & Black’s Chocolate recipe book grabbed me by both eyeballs and I had to make it straight away. It was really rather simple: you melt dark chocolate into egg yolks and sugar, then add ground almonds and some freshly ground coffee. Then you whisk some egg whites into stiff peaks (which I did with a frigging hand whisk, being sorely lacking in the electric whisk department), fold them in and whack it in the oven.
It comes out huge and impressive, a bit souffle-esque.
You can see that at this point I haven’t dared to pry it off the base of the cake tin, yet.
The real genius part of the Sachertorte comes next. You melt some apricot jam and brush the syrup all over the cake – when you bite into the cake later, it’s this that gives that lovely tang. Finally, to wrap the whole thing up, you melt some more chocolate, mix it with a little butter and spread it all over the cake. Yum.
Yup, those marks on the plate are where I’ve poked my finger into the excess chocolate icing. Nope, I’m not ashamed of it. The recipe book says you can decorate the finished cake in “the traditional style” by using the back of a teaspoon to make a pattern of rings on top, and by piping the word “Sachertorte” on top. Needless to say I did neither of these things because a) I am the kind of person who is too busy sticking their fingers into icing, and b) my guess is that any writing I pipe will look like the work of some well meaning child.
So, scrumptious with or without the ‘traditional style’, here’s the recipe I (kind of) followed:
- Melted butter for greasing.
- 200g dark chocolate.
- 6 eggs
- 310g granulated sugar
- 150g ground almonds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground coffee
- 6 tablespoons apricot jam
- 100g dark chocolate
- 40g unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Brush a tin with some melted butter and line it with greaseproof paper.
To make the torte, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Separate 5 of the eggs, then whisk the egg yolks, the whole egg and the sugar until thick and creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks.
Add the ground almonds, coffee grounds and melted chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir well. Gently fold in the egg whites and pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for 1 hour, covering the cake with foil after 40 minutes to stop the top from burning. Release the spring form tin (or if you’re using one with a removeable base like I did, basically just take the cake out on that base) and leave to cool.
Melt the apricot jam over a low heat, strain and then brush it over the cooled cake. Then, to make the icing, melt the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Add the butter and stir until it has the consistency of thick pouring cream.
Pour the icing over the cake and smooth it out.