Sachertorte

Gluten Free Sachertorte - December 01, 2017 by Luna

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Maybe you need a fancy cake for a party but the only gluten-free bakery near you requires a month advance notice and maybe a second mortgage. Or maybe you just tried a new chocolate cake recipe or mix and the result was underwhelming but you'd like to salvage it. This recipe can do either: dress up a good cake or rescue a lackluster one.

Sachertorte has been around since the 18th century and accordingly has several acceptable* variants. It can be two layers of chocolate cake separated by a layer of apricot jam and covered in chocolate glaze or ganache or a single layer covered first with apricot jam and then covered in chocolate. Based on my personal experimentation I can assure you that peach jam and raspberry jam work great, too.

December 5th is Sachertorte Day. Be prepared.

Here's a basic outline for this recipe:

  1. Acquire an unfrosted chocolate cake
  2. Glaze with warm jam
  3. Cover in chocolate glaze
  4. Give it a fancy name, "Sachertorte"
  5. Proudly serve it

image of two layers of baked cake still in pans
cake fresh from the oven

Of course it is nice if you can start with a good chocolate cake, but the jam does add a lot of moisture so if you have a cake with good flavor which is rather dry, that will make an excellent sachertorte.

I'm not going to focus on the chocolate cake itself. You can use the recipe I mentioned for the Sugar Skull Cakes or try a new mix or whatever you want: one way or another, acquire one or two layers of chocolate cake.

You will also need:

Arpicot Jam (about half a cup)

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate discs
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar

Warm the jam in the microwave so that it will spread easily, probably about 15 to 20 seconds. Pour the jam into the center of the bottom (or only) layer and use a spoon or spatula to spread it gently to the edges of the cake.

image of spreading jam on cake
applying jam

image of jam on cake
cake with jam layer

If using two layers, put the second one on now.

image of two layer cake with jam
cake with jam

For the chocolate glaze: mix the water, sugar, and chocolate together in a medium sized, preferably heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. You want the mixture to hit 234 degrees F but if you discover, as I did, that there isn't enough volume here for your candy thermometer to get a reading you might have to wing it. You want it to boil for about 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Pour over cake.

image of melting chocolate
melting chocolate disks

image of melting chocolate
melting chocolate disks

image of boiling chocolate
boiling chocolate disks

image of pouring chocolate
pouring the chocolate over the cake

I didn't boil the chocolate mixture quite enough in this example. It's not a problem for the cake but the glaze would have been a tiny bit thicker and therefore puddled less around the edges if I had let it boil another minute. If you put your cake on a wire rack to pour the glaze any excess will run off the edges and give a cleaner look.

image of cutting the cake
finished cake

image of the cut cake
finished cake

A note on the weird and wonderful chemistry of chocolate:

You may have heard that getting a single drop of water into chocolate you are melting is a problem--and indeed it is--so why is it OK to go dumping half a cup of water in here? Chocolate in the form of a chocolate bar or the chocolate disks you are melting here is an emulsion, a mixture of water-soluble tasty bits suspended in an oil base (cocoa butter). A small amount of water will disturb this balance and break up the emulsion as there is now too much water to be comfortably held in suspension by the oil base. If you add more water, the emulsion flips: now you have tasty oil-based bits suspended in a water base.

Both sorts of emulsions taste great, although they have slightly different physical properties. The water-based form will never have the crisp snap of a chocolate bar, for instance.

As the chocolate disks start to melt you can see strands of oil-based emulsion running through the water-based emulsion. One they are fully melted they will integrate smoothly into one water-based emulsion.

image of melting chocolate
melting chocolate disks: the strange grainy stage

*OK, maybe not acceptable to the Hotel Sacher in Vienna where they still serve The Original Sacher Torte (tm) but acceptable enough that I've seen several variations in generally reputable American bakeries and if playing with this recipe is good enough for them, it's good enough for me.