Holiday Mailbag II: The Return of Gerhard

Well, he couldn’t stay on vacation forever. My comeuppance was inevitable. Here is what a true Sacher torte aficionado (and home baker) has to say about what went on here last week.

* The combination of those three components (flour, meringue and “mayonaise”) for Sacher Torte batter is the foundation of all good Viennese cake-baking. Every traditional recipe is based on that method, since we try to avoid baking powder, which is considered an unnatural, chemical leavener that skilled cake bakers don’t use. And by skilled bakers I mean those folks who uphold the standards of traditional artisan baking.

* As for the chocolate glaze… hmmm…your recipe sounds far too sweet for me. Too much sugar. A simple melted chocolate coating with a little butter is what I use. (By the way: Sacher uses a particular blend of three different chocolates for their glaze…it’s a very big secret!).

* Sacher vs. Demel…. please!!!! Demel is a tourist thing. No self-respecting Viennese person would ever go there. A totally unreal place. As for that thing they call “Sacher Torte” there, I won’t even discuss it. Let the tourists have it.

* Concerning couverture. Funny, couverture over here is cheap chocolate for baking. The stuff that’s not good enough for eating. It’s really cheap in supermarkets.

* Lightly sweetened whipped cream with the Sacher Torte? HORRORS! A total no-go. Unsweetened cream is an absolute must, as you want to balance the sweetness of the apricot jam/chocolate combination. Oh god, sweetened cream with a Sacher Torte is as nightmarish as hot Apfelstrudel with ice-cream or [heavy] cream poured all over it. Tourist-food is what that is…nothing less than an abomination.

* Is Sacher Torte dry? Sure it is, since it is always accompanied by a cup of coffee and some whipped cream. That’s the art: make it soft yet dry to create a balance with the coffee and the UNSWEETENED whipped cream. Pure joy. Here again I’ll remind you that a moist, gooey cake like the American brownie is considered a major baking failure by Viennese standards. Fit only for the trash can!

That’ll fix my britches. Actually some pretty valuable information here. Thanks Gerhard! I’ll put this up in the permanent Sacher torte tutorial for the future edification of Joe Pastry readers. Also so that future generations can see exactly where I went wrong.

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