Ok, Monday I gave you our translation of the Austrian recipe for Sacher Torte. Today I will discuss the BAKING. Things started out smoothly. I beat the butter and sugar until “frothy” in the same way I would cream them when baking anything else. This turned out fine.
Then, I melted the chocolate and mixed it and the egg yolks in with the butter mixture. Things are still going alright – I did an AWESOME job separating 8 eggs. Austria would be proud!
Then I had to beat the egg whites “to snow.” Looking at other Sacher Torte recipes from the internet, I determined that this must mean to “soft peaks,” so that’s what I did. You can see the peaks below. This took several minutes on uber-high speed with an electric mixer. I have NO IDEA how anyone made meringue before the invention of the electric mixer. My arm was tired from just holding up the mixer.
This is where things started to go south. The next step said to fold the egg whites into the chocolate and butter mixture, or “buttermasse” in the recipe. So I did this, and it was a very large volume of egg whites relative to the buttermasse; a lot of folding still gave me this ugly, spotty consistency. I felt that this couldn’t possibly be right, but I didn’t want to stir so much that I lost all the volume of the eggs, so I stopped here and went to the next step which was to add the flour.
And that seemed to fix everything! As soon as I started to stir in the flour, the consistency quickly became uniform and it looked a lot more like batter. “Phew, close call!” I thought.
So I popped that sucker into the oven and heaved a sigh of relief. Hard part over, right? WRONG, suckas!
I pulled the torte out of the oven right on time, but it felt a little overcooked at 60 minutes cook time. I was concerned about the step requiring I slice through the cake horizontally, imagining a normal crumbly cake consistency, but this puppy was SOLID. It actually sliced really easily, more like a loaf of bread than cake, and I was able to easily spread the apricot jam onto the bottom layer and restack.
At this point, I’m PSYCHED. Everything is going really well, and all the things I thought would be hard were actually pretty easy. All that’s left is the icing. “Bring it on,” I thought. Oh, how the mighty fall…
This is a part of the recipe we were pretty confident about in terms of translation and ingredient quantities. I’ve even done this sort of thing before – boiling sugar and chocolate to a smooth sauce – but this is where it all fell apart. I think the fault is mine, not the recipe’s actually; I think I should have heated the sugar up more slowly, but whatever the reason, the sugar did not melt and the water boiled out of the chocolate, and the “icing” turned into a grainy gunge.
In a desperate attempt to save it, I threw in some butter and milk, got it boiling again, and prayed the sugar would melt, but it did not.
In the end, I used it anyway. It was getting late, and the only other option in the house was a can of Betty Crocker vanilla icing. I really didn’t want to go there, so I slapped the crappy icing on the cake and called it a Sacher Torte.
In the end, the cake was dense and dry – I think probably a little overcooked – and obviously the icing didn’t work out. The taste was good, but the texture was not right. I can’t be sure how much fault was mine and how much was the recipe’s (or our translation of the recipe). We still ate it, but I probably won’t make this for our next Victorian tea party.