Wednesday, 3 April 2013

I am Viennese if you please.

What would we do without stock photos? This from

 Being Viennese is my secret identity. Forget my complicated family history, my hotchpotch of Asian and European genes, and my two passports – in my heart of hearts, I am walking along the Ringstrasse, shopping for elegant clothes and jaunty hats. I imagine I spend my afternoons at the Museum Kunsthistoriches or strolling the Schoennbrun Palace grounds and that I pass my evenings at the Wiener Staatsoper or at the Wiener Staatsballett. In my dreams, I climb the gantry of St Stephen’s Cathedral and look out over the city to glimpse a view of the Riesenrad. I stop for cake at Demel Kaffeehaus or the HotelSacher.

This is not just some ultra-weird fetish on my part. When I was 15, I had just such a visit to Vienna. To say it was life-changing is to describe it exactly. The foundations for my future personality were set that long weekend. Everything I saw and experienced was something I wanted for myself: an extensive knowledge of languages, art, history, music, architecture, fashion, and food. While I haven't been wildly successful in some of these areas, it has been fun trying, and I continue to try. It's as good a way of living life as I've found in any self-help book.

Going to the Hotel Sacher for Sachertorte and strong coffee is an abiding memory. We had cake there and we bought another Sachertorte to take home to England. It came in a wooden box, and for a long time afterward (long, long after the cake had been eaten and I had appropriated the box as a pencil case), it still smelled of chocolate. You can see the same boxes in the link that I provided at the beginning of this paragraph. You can also see that Sachertorte is now able to be ordered online. Hmmm....

Looking for a baking project this Easter weekend just past, I came across a picture of a Sachertorte online. I decided then and there that I was going to give it a go. 

Social media provided the means to do so. Very many thanks to @perthchocoholic for sending me a recipe by Pierre Herme and uploading it to Twitter in a series of photographs, as well as for the handy tip about thickening the chocolate glaze on a tray.

I couldn't find 66% Valrhona chocolate, so I had to go with 55% from The Grocer as the best that was available locally. I wonder what the chefs at Hotel Sacher would have to say about my very Australian Monbulk Apricot Jam?

Making the cake batter took ages - the bulk of that time being spent whipping up the seven egg whites.My fault - I should have had the eggs at room temperature.

The resulting cake was not quite as dark as I would have liked. That was most likely my fault for not getting the right kind of chocolate.


A layer of apricot jam goes on before the chocolate glaze. I had to sieve this - I couldn't find any apricot jam that didn't contain apricot chunks.

Thickening the chocolate glaze. The Herme recipe assumes that you have a 'marble surface' to work on. I wish. However, a cool baking tray worked very well.

It was so shiny!

Once it had chilled, I tidied it up and replated it. In hindsight, I should have added more glaze at that stage because it wasn't nearly thick enough.

And the taste? The actually cake was not as chocolate-y as I'd hoped, and the chocolate glaze not as dense. However, it was a decent chocolate cake, and no one who was offered a piece complained.

Did it transport me back to the Vienna of my dreams? Not remotely. 

Did blogging about it turn up a link that shows how to order a real Sachertorte online? Absolutely.

Now please excuse me, my Viennese alter-ego has some shopping to do.

Waltz this way...