Tricks of the Trade

So what are some of the ways in which pastry chefs have attempted to “improve” Sacher torte? Firstly, by adding more apricot jam. A Sacher Hotel-style Sacher torte has one layer of filling in the middle. Demel’s modification is a full glazing of jam over the entire exterior. Most of the Sacher torte recipes you see in print call for both. Some bake shops have taken the more-is-better philosophy a step further by making the Sacher a 3-layer affair and inserting another layer of jam under the hood (as it were). This is considered an abomination by many. Yet it’s tame compared to what is widely thought to be the ultimate Sacher torte desecration: cake syrup. Cake syrup is employed to add moisture and flavor to all sorts of cakes and pastries. The types that are most often painted onto the layers of a Sacher tortes tend to be heavy on citrus flavors like orange, as well as spices like cinnamon and clove. They add a great deal of sweetness, moisture and complexity. Yet they also take away what many consider to be a Sacher torte’s authenticity, and as much as I dislike the word “authenticity” when it’s applied to foods, I confess I’m inclined to agree.

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