I've been delinquent, I know. I've skipped a week in posting. I hope the handful of people that actually read this (are there a handful?) don't mind. With the holidays, things just got so busy, I couldn't get this written.
So, I'll take a trip down memory lane and talk about this chocolate cake, which I actually made 3 whole weeks ago, and which my co-workers devoured fairly quickly when I brought it in.
The sachertorte is an interesting cake, and not at all what i thought it would end up like when I was baking it. Usually, when you separate egg whites and yolks and do the ol' "stiff peak, fold 'em in" technique, you end up with a light spongue. This cake, however, became a dense, somewhat fudgey cake. Mary Berry said in her recipe that the cake gets better in the second or first day, but perhaps I did something wrong, because when I ate the leftovers, they were a bit dry and needed a heaping of whipped cream or a glass of milk. I think it might be the almond flour weighing the cake down, and possibly too long in the oven (bakers' mistake).
As you know, I sometimes find cleaning a stand mixer bowl and its attachments to be just too much work, and pulling out the stand mixer a feat of strength and maneuvering that is sometimes beyond me in my tiny kitchen. And so, I've learned to love doing things by hand sometimes -- including egg whites. One pro-tip on doing this and keeping your stamina up is to roll up a towel and wrap it under your bowl to stabilize it. Then you can switch off hands and not have to waste the energy holding the bowl and whisking at the same time. Look at me, all about energy efficiency.
Doing things by hand also lets you see all the different stages of whatever you're doing. With egg whites, you can see (and even feel) the difference between raw whites, froth, soft peaks, and stiff peaks. My favorite test, which always, always makes me nervous, is turning the bowl upside down -- if the whites stay in, they're at stiff peaks. If they fall out... you start from square one. The five second rule doesn't apply to egg whites.
I like to think of recipes like this as yin and yang, and when you bring them together, the whole is greater than the parts. If you were to eat a bit of either the left or right batter, neither would taste good. But once you fold the whites into the chocolate, some sort of magic happens that makes it all palatabe. Sure, you should bake the cake, but were you to be the type to enjoy batter... that is the stage where you would do it.
Looking back at these pictures, you can definitely see where I over-baked the cake. When I pulled it out of the oven, it had shrunk back from the sides just a bit too much, and was cracking on the top from dryness. I would have done and made another one, if there weren't two component left that would save the cake.
Enter apricot jam. What now? Yes, apricot jam. Think it's weird? It is. But the funny thing is... it works. Actually, after tasting a slice, I felt like there wasn't enough apricot jam. I had no idea apricot and chocolate would pair well, but it went along so well, and with a cake that ended up being somewhat dry, the jam was a perfect complement.
Not to mention a healthy layer of chocolate ganache. Everything is better with chocolate ganache. And it really couldn't be easier: hot cream gets poured onto chocolate chips, let it sit 5 minutes, and stir to consisteny. A little goes a long way with ganache, I think. I've seen people frost layer cakes in ganache, and to me that's a bit of overkill. Chocolate is a delicate flavor, and a lot of people go overboard with it when it comes to ganache. If you want to beat someone over the head with chocolate flavor, sure this is one way to do it, but they'll hate you later. The better way is to mix your chocolate sources: some cocoa, some ganache, some whole. That way, you still have that intense chocolate, but it's cut by more interesting textures. Here, it's a thin layer of ganache with a dense chocolate cake.
Part of the fun of the chocolate ganache in this recipe is you pour it over the cake. This gives the cake a very even layer of ganache, which is beautiful, and also leaves a ton of ganache that dripped off as excess. Another "baker's treat" that I enjoyed with a spoon while cleaning up.
makes one 9" cake (serves 12)
140 grams (5 ounces) DARK CHOCOLATE (I use Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips)
140 grams (5 ounces) UNSALTED BUTTER, softened
115 grams (4 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
1/2 teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT
5 large EGGS, separated
85 grams (3 ounces) ALMOND FLOUR
55 grams (2 ounces) ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
6 tablespoons APRICOT JAM
140 grams (5 ounces) DARK CHOCOLATE CHIPS
200 milliliters (7 ounces) (2/3 cup + 1 teaspoon) HEAVY CREAM
25 grams (1 ounce) MILK CHOCOLATE
1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease and line with greased parchment a 9" round cake pan
2. Melt DARK CHOCOLATE either over a double boiler, or in the microwave on 15 second intervals, stirring in between, and let cool
3. Beat BUTTER until soft, then add GRANULATED SUGAR and beat until light and fluffy
4. Add melted, cooled chocolate and VANILLA EXTRACT into butter mixture and beat until incorporated
5. Add EGG YOLKS to chocolate mixture and beat until incorporated
6. Fold in ALMOND FLOUR and FLOUR to chocolate mixture
7. In a separate bowl, whip EGG WHITES until stiff peaks form
8. Fold beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture in three stages--the first you can be aggresive and beat in, but the other two stages fold in to keep aeration
9. Pour batter into pan and bake 45-50 minutes, until top springs back when lightly pressend on
10. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then turn out upsidedown onto a wire rack (so the bottom is now the top) to cool completely
1. Push the APRICOT JAM through a sieve to get a smooth jelly, discard chunky remnants
2. Heat jam in the microwave for about 30 seconds to thin it out, and use a pastry brush to brush all 6 tablespoons on the top and around the side of the cake, then let the jam set
3. Heat HEAVY CREAM on the stove or in the microwave until steaming but not boiling, and pour over the CHOCOLATE CHIPS, then cover with a plate and leave for 3 minutes
4. Whisk the cream and chocolate, gently at first, then more aggresively as the chocolate melts, until a smooth consistency is reached (this is ganache) -- don't whisk too much or the ganache will become too aerated, then let cool until room temperature
5. Pour the chocolate ganache over the cake, making sure the entire top and sides are covered -- you can use a knife or spatula to "push" any chocolate to cover the entire cake
6. Melt the MILK CHOCOLATE in the microwave, put in a piping bag or parchment cone and let cool to room temperature, so it's not too runny
7. With the melted millk chocolate, pipe the word "Sacher" on top of the cake, then let cool to set
My husband and I have different ideas on the right way to consume a cake.
A personal challenge to conquer every technical challenge, and select signature bakes, from The Great British Bake Off
WANT TO STAY UPDATED? EMAIL
TO SUBSCRIBE TO UPDATES and
receive an email for every