I’m not a New Years resolution kind of gal. I’m just not. Never have been. Not that I’m not into self-improvement-- I’m all for it I just think it’s weird that we relegate it to one day of the year. However, I did decide that this year I’d stop being such a baking wimp. I’d suck it up and figure it out.
I’ve realized something though. The whole trick to baking is to follow the directions exactly and to have patience. I’m not really good at either of those things. Not. At. All. But I decided that the New Year is as good a time as any to get over it and just get to bakin’.
I pulled out my copy of Patisserie of Vienna by Josephine Bacon and thumbed through looking for the perfect dessert to take to the New Years Eve feast I was attending. We were having roast duck with all the fixin’s and I figured I needed something rich and delicious for a slam-bang finish.
I came across a recipe for a Sachertorte, which Bacon refers to as “Vienna’s greatest cake.” If I was gonna do this baking thing I’d better do it right… right?
Well I did… and it was an experience. Here’s what will happen if you choose to give this recipe a shot:
You will set out all your ingredients:
Serves 10 (Recipe adapted from Patisserie of Vienna by Josephine Bacon pg 25)
7 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick butter
8 eggs separated
2 tsp vanilla sugar
2 eggs whites
pinch of salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup apricot jam
For Chocolate Icing:
3 oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavey cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
And you will follow the recipe:
Preheat the oven to 350* F. Make sure to first remove the plastic Subway sandwich you were given as a gag gift for Christmas—because you wouldn’t want it to melt onto the oven now would you?
Butter two 9 inch layer cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of nonstick parchment paper. Butter and flour the circles, and shake off the excess flour. It is here that you realize that you have one 9 inch pan and one 11 inch pan. Mmm. Hmm… no problem… you go ahead and just use them both and figure you can trim the larger one to fit the smaller.
To make the sponge, break the chocolate into the top of a double boiler and heat it over simmering water until the chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. I used 6oz of bittersweet chips and 1 oz of spiced Mexican chocolate (which you will quickly realize wasn’t enough to make a difference).
Melt the butter and pour it into a bowl. Add the egg yolks and vanilla sugar and stir well. Beat the chocolate in until smooth. You will actually just happen to have vanilla sugar and just let it chill out. It’s also here that, inexplicably, you won’t be able to get both beaters on machine so you will use just one and add the eggs to the chocolate bit by bit so it wouldn’t curdle.
Beat the 10 egg whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks, then gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Here you will accidentally leave out the two extra egg whites-- so you will eat them for breakfast while you’re waiting for the cakes to bake.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour on top and fold in gently but thoroughly. Now your egg whites won’t form peaks… it will become more like egg foam but once you fold in the flour it will look a lot more batter-y so you figure it will be ok.
Dense cakey goodness
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the layers are dry and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove them from the over and loosen the sides. Cool the cakes, still in the pans, on wire racks. When the cakes are cooled, unmold them. And since you had the wrong size pan and didn’t check to verify this before baking you will trim the larger cake to be the same size as the smaller.
To make the icing, break the chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and add the cream, granulated sugar, vanilla sugar and corn syrup. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the chocolate has melted, then stop stirring and raise the heat. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes. Here you will burn the living crap out of the mixture—who knows why—you were following the directions and you will contemplate moving forward anyways hoping your friends wouldn’t notice but no… no that stuff is BURNT. So here you start all over with the frosting process. After the mixture has boiled…
Beat the egg lightly in a mixing bowl, and stir in3 tbs of the icing mixture into it. Pour this into the mixture in the saucepan and stir well to incorporate. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until the mixture coasts the back of a spoon thickly; do not boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool.
Warm the ham until it has melted, then press it through a sieve. Here you will exclaim loudly… OH YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME… NO WAY THAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN! So you don’t.
Spread on cake layer with the jam and put the other layer on top. Spread the jam over the sides of the cake. Pour the icing over the cake and quickly smooth it with a palette knife.
Here you will come to realize that the frosting to cake ratio is way out of control and it will pool over the sides of the cake platter and onto the counter.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours. You will and it will set fine. And you will through some chopped up apricots and dark chocolate covered almonds on top because you had them in the pantry and well…. Why not?
So did this come out perfect? Hell no. Am I glad I gave it a shot? Totally. The New Year’s Eve Feast was a big success, the duck was great, the brandied cranberries were a huge hit people were kind enough to claim they liked the torte and I realized that suck at Guitar Hero but fun was had and the company was fantastic.
Happy New Year everyone!