Sachertorte, or the Drunk Sand Castle Project

I’m totally in over my head with this new baking group. Last time I made chimney cake. Now this. I spent four hours of my Saturday spackling this cake into the unimpressive mound you see here in this photograph. No shortcuts, every last moment of this project was painstaking–[See: straining apricot chunks out of boiled apricot glaze with a metal sieve for half hour.] It tastes amazing, but I have seen ant hills with better trim. I think my toddler-made sand castles looked better than this at Manzanita Beach on the Oregon Coast. Master Chef Rachel, when did you bake this fine art cake? It was during my Toddler Era. 

sachertorte done1


Adapted from Korena in the Kitchen, as a Daring Bakers Challenge

Obviously inspired by the famous Vienna Sachertorte

Servings: 12-16

Cake Ingredients

4½ oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

pinch fine grain salt


Preheat oven to moderately hot 375˚F with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flower the sides of a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.

Place the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave until just melted. Set aside to cool completely, stirring often.

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or electric mixer on medium speed until very light and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.

Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed and very light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

In a scrupulously clean bowl using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with about one tablespoon of the granulated sugar on high speed until foamy. Gradually add in the rest of the granulated sugar and continue beating the whites until they form soft, shiny peaks -they should hold their shape but flop over on themselves.   sachertorte egg whites

Vigorously stir about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a spatula until just a few wisps of egg white remain. Do not deflate the egg whites! Marvel at them, but do not deflate.

Stir together the flour and salt and sift half of it over the chocolate mixture. Fold in with a spatula until almost incorporated. Sift over the remaining flour and fold to combine completely.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared springform pan.

sachertorte batter

Bake in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F oven for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

sachertorte baked

The cake will crack and dome in the middle as it bakes but will flatten out as it cools. (Except for mine remained domed, so I had to cut off the dome, like making a flat top haircut on a bagel.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan and remove the sides. Carefully invert the cake onto a rack and remove the bottom of the pan and parchment paper, then turn the cake right-side up onto a rack and allow to cool completely.

Assembly: Turn the cake upside-down so that the perfectly flat bottom of the cake is now the top. Cut the cake horizontally into 2 even layers, so that it looks like you’ve made the world’s largest chocolate English muffin.

sachertorte cake round sachertorte bottom

sachertorte like english muffins

Place 1 cake layer on the 8½-inch cardboard cake round (polka dots optional) and spread it generously with about half of the apricot glaze. Allow it to soak in.

Place the second cake layer on top and spread the top and sides with the remaining apricot glaze. Work quickly before the glaze has a chance to set and use a metal offset spatula to smooth the top. Place the cake on a rack set over a plate or baking sheet lined with waxed paper and allow the apricot glaze to set.

sachertorte glazed2

Make the chocolate glaze (it must be used immediately, while still hot) and pour it over the top of the cake, first around the edge and then in the middle. Let me emphasize that it must be pourable. I think my chocolate was too thick, because it immediately turned to plaster of Paris when it hit the cake. Instant fudge. Tastes AMAZING, looks a little bit like a drunk adobe job.

sachertorte done

Spread the excess glaze over any bare spots using a metal offset spatula. Before the glaze has a chance to set, move the cake to a serving platter

With the writing chocolate, pipe the word “Sacher” in the middle of the cake and add any decorative flourishes you wish. Try not to feel bad when the frosting bag explodes and destroys the beauty of your word mid-A. Then, do not cry as you use a fork to spell the rest of the word. Do NOT, under any circumstances, Google images of Sachertortes professionally done. Just chill the cake until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour. And serve. When your guests ask what you were trying to spell on top, lie. Say perhaps, I wasn’t spelling anything. I was just doodling. Then grin and giggle like you don’t care.

To serve: Let the cake come to room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Whip the cream to soft peaks (this is best done in a cold bowl with cold beaters). If desired, sweeten it with icing sugar to taste.

Cut the Sachertorte into wedges with a large sharp knife dipped in hot water and wipe off the blade between cuts. Serve each wedge of cake with a large dollop of whipped cream.

Apricot Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity (about 1 cup)


1¼ cup apricot jam or preserves

2 tablespoons rum (or other liquor) or water


Boil the jam and rum/water in a small saucepan over medium heat.

sachertorte apricot

Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.

Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.

sacher straining apricot sachertorte apricot glaze

Chocolate Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity


1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup water

4 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

sachertorte chocolate


  1. Place the sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Attach a candy thermometer and cook, stirring, until the mixture reaches 234˚F about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. It might thicken up quite a bit. If it does, return it to low heat and add a few drops of water if necessary to thin it out to a runny, pourable consistency. The glaze should be smooth and shiny.
  4. Off the heat, stir the glaze for 30-60 seconds to cool it slightly, then immediately use it to glaze the cake.
  5. Any excess glaze can be stored in a container in the fridge and added to a mug of hot milk to make hot chocolate.

Writing Chocolate

Servings: 1 quantity


¼ cup chopped good quality chocolate

½ -1 teaspoons vegetable oil


  1. Heat the chocolate until just melted, then stir in enough vegetable oil to get a pipeable consistency. If necessary, let the chocolate mixture cool slightly to thicken so that it is not too runny.
  2. Place the chocolate in a disposable piping bag or small Ziplock bag and snip off the tip to make a small hole.

sachertorte slice

Good luck, ye daring bakers. I think the key is to really make sure that the chocolate glaze is liquidy and fast-setting. Even if every last step of this procedure is perfect, the exterior is how it will be judged (since only twelve people get to enjoy the cake)–kind of like surgery. If the incision suture job is a botch, who cares how elegant the stitches on the heart?

6 thoughts on “Sachertorte, or the Drunk Sand Castle Project

  1. No no, not ugly – the word is “rustic”. As in, “This month the Daring Bakers collectively invented an entirely new cake: the Rustic Sachertorte.”

    Seriously though, thanks for the giggle with your post. I have so been there with the exploding piping bag!!

    1. Love it. Rustic. That is exactly how my cake turned out. I think my candy thermometer temperature is plus or minus five or ten degrees, which makes all the difference obviously. Thanks for the support! And the piping explosion was just the icing on the cake.

  2. I have to admit I chuckled and snorted a bit all the way through not just your blog post but you wanting to start the daring ugly bakers club.. I am so glad that you were able to participate and don’t worry about questioning what you have gotten yourself into. I think that on occasion as well, and just chip away at it. I have fun for sure; and no one has gotten food poisoning yet…

    1. That is my baseline goal– no food poisoning. Glad you got a good laugh– if ever I am feeling a little too self assured I return to this page and look at my Sachertorte. The redeeming end to this story was that I took it to a party, and immediately someone said, “Is that a Sacher cake?” YES YES YES, I said, delighted that I didn’t disfigure the torte beyond recognition. That person got an extra slice too.

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