Wednesday, September 13, 2006

If I Knew You Were Coming I'd Have Baked A Cake

In honor of the resurection of The Big Brass Blog I offer my own recipe for what many consider to be the ultimate expression of the Cake Maker's Art.


There is a lot of legend and lore surrounding this cake. It originated at the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna. This cake was developed on orders of Wenzel Clemens Prince Metternich, who was bringing guests to dine at the hotel. His orders were to create something his guests had never tasted before. The problem was that the world famous pastry chef of the hotel was sick and unable to leave his bed. Franz Sacher, then sixteen years old and an apprentice in the kitchen took it upon himself to create this cake. This recipe is the one used at the hotel to this very day. I have included a small variation at the end of the post for those of you who remain too lazy or too scared to temper your chocolate.

First, the ingredients:

4 1/2 ounces sweet butter (unsalted)
4 ounces powdered sugar
6 egg yolks
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (more on this later)
4 1/2 ounces cake flour (sifted)
6 egg whites
3 1/2 ounces baker's sugar (extra fine granulated but not powdered)
Apricot Jam
extra chocolate and cocoa butter for glazing (or get coveture chocolate)

alternate glaze of ganache:

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons sweet butter

That isn't too intimidating now is it? Again, as with the most sublime foods, there is a theme of simplicity. Be ruthlessly demanding in your choice of ingredients. The level of success here demands it. I use Challenge brand European style butter when my relatives in Ireland have allowed their care package duties to slide (yes, I'm talking to YOU my dear daughter!) . Irish butter is almost it's very own product. Yes, they use cows like everybody else, but the Irish butter is quite frankly the best in the world. (which means SEND ME SOME NOW!). I buy my eggs from a neighbor who gently raises Rhode Island Reds. They run about her yard, scratching and hunting bugs. She feeds them by hand every morning and night. At night they roost in a special coop amid fresh straw. These are some happy critters folks. The eggs they lay reflect that satisfaction. One must, however, be on guard against the occaisional fertilized egg in the batch. They have a tiny bloodspot on the yolk and must either be set aside for a less important recipe or given to the dogs (who always wait at a polite distance when I am cooking). For the cream, I use the Manufacturing Cream product from a local dairy. It has a butterfat content of 40%. Hey folks, this ain't no sissy health food here, this is Viennese Pastry. For the chocolate I use Trader Joe's Pound Plus Bittersweet® it is Belgian and very good stuff. If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you consider moving right now. They are an essential component of civilized existance. I also use their house brand of premium Apricot Jam. It is luscious.

Now, let's get to baking.

Over simmering, not boiling water, melt the chocolate until it is smooth and glossy. Take care not to allow any water or steam to get into the chocolate. It will sieze if this happens and that ruins everything. Be Carefull. I mean it. Carefull.

Separate the eggs. Have two bowls, one smaller one for yolks and a mixing bowl for the whites on either side of you. Use a small dessert bowl in the middle for catching the whites as you separate them. If a yolk breaks, or you find a fertilized egg discard it bowl and all.

Now cream together the butter and powdered sugar then add, alternating slowly, the egg yolks and melted chocolate. Mix this until it is completely smooth and has a sensual glossy look.

Beat the egg whites at a medium speed until they are foamy. Then begin adding the baker's sugar a teaspoon at a time until you have Stiff Peaks. That means when you raise your whisk or beaters the points stand straight up without any flopping. Slight curling is acceptable, but we want VIAGRA stiff. Got it?

Now gently, calmly fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter, then do the same with the cake flour.

Turn into a buttered Springform® cake pan and bake on the middle rack at 350° for an hour. Cool on a rack for at least an hour. Then remove from the pan.

Slice the cake in half horizontally and generously slather (god i love that word slather it makes me feel all decadent and stuff) between the layers with Apricot Jam. Transfer this to a buttered marble slab that has been painted with a base of Coveture Chocolate. To make a regular bittersweet chocolate into a coveture simply add cocoa butter to it while you are tempering, this will make for a thinner coating. Using a pastry brush (which is merely a camel hair paintbrush) coat the outside of the cake. When it has hardened, carefully trim around the edges and place on an appropriately dramatic serving plate. (I use a cut crystal pedestal) For a totally cool look you can also sift powdered sugar over a doilly or other cool pattern. If you don't want to bother with the tempering, or don't trust your instincts on adding in the cocoa butter you can usually find a coveture grade chocolate at the Godiva store. If you really don't want to bother you can use a simple ganache to glaze.

Take the cup of cream and heat it right up to the boiling point. Then dump it over the chopped chocolate and butter. Mix it until it very smooth. Paint this over the cake and allow to cool completely.

That's the Sacher torte my friends. If you edit out all my ramblings you'll find that this is merely a moderate level of difficulty recipe. It shouldn't take much more than 20 mintues of work along with an hour of baking time. Give this one a try, you'll be a legend of the dining room. Franz Sacher ended up owning the hotel where he created this. I have had to settle for extra good behavior from my children and an occaisional inspired roll in the hay after dessert.

Oh yeah, this is best served mit schlag (unsweetened fresh whipped cream) and either espresso (not latte, not cappuchino bitchez, espresso in a goddamn demitasse!) or a nice Earl Grey (cream, no sugar) tea.

I have this crossposted at BIG BRASS BLOG


Blogger Friðvin said...

Txrad is logged off but told me to post this. He said "I hate bitches who get to shop at Trader Joe's."

We used to live in LA and there was one 3 miles down the road from us. I wish to hell they'd open one in Austin. You got any clout with 'em?

5:06 PM  
Blogger Friðvin said...

PS:I gave you a Fiona piano clip on my blog.

Damn I'm good.

5:07 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i gots zero clout. although before i closed my palm springs shop we were close to my giving them an endorsement on their house brand chocolate (which really is good stuff and i really do use) in return for me getting a wholesale discount. now, i just am a regular shopper (although the manager allows me to pre-order my chocolate and snatch it off the dock). i can't believe that they don't have one in austin. that's a crying damn shame. . .

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, fiona. ....

5:58 PM  
Blogger Friðvin said...

Your lyrics would fit right in with the Dylan song I'm listening to.

By lyrics, I mean your general conversation. :-)

6:28 PM  
Blogger Friðvin said...

Have you ever considered switching to haloscan comments?

Seriously, I'd like to hear what you have to say on the subject.

My ability to type these obnoxious cryptograms deminishes with age and drinking.


Although I'll tell you, after I switched to haloscan, I get dozens of Japanese emails daily for Japanese pussy, but that may have more to do with my host than haloscan. I would like to fix that issue at some point.

Homey ain't into pussy, Japanese or otherwise.

Thank God, I've only got to type 6 letters to post this comment, and they are all quite clear. cpxiot.

6:32 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i'll give haloscan a whirl...i think that these were the default and i just took that. i kind of like the little emoticon rascules, speaking of which, have you seen the emoticons Dark Wraith did for B-3? they rock dude. i'm very excited to have been invited into that company. just reading the posts and trying to hold my own on the comment threads at the Wraith's has really improved me, but I know that there's a long hard road ahead. Japanese pussy is waaaaay over rated. Same same Chinese. Malay, Thai, and for Euro girls Norwegian are all good. Spanish girls dude, they will change your life and your philosophy. i doubt they could do anything about preference or orientation, but i can still visualize this one young woman in Malaga. . .mercy.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Friðvin said...

Mercy, the boys in those countries!

Hey man. Thanks for all the support lately. I love you for it.

You are a blessed soul.

8:38 PM  
Blogger J. Goff said...

I started getting really weird business and financial advice (Like "Buy such and such bullshit stock"), which always ends in a piece of a nonsensical story line. Really messed up.

6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:48 AM  

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