The Sachertorte, the icon of Viennese coffee house culture, first baked in 1832 at Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich’s court by the 16-year-old apprentice pastry chef Franz Sacher, is 175 years old this week.
Since the cake was invented, more than 300,000 have been made at Vienna’s Hotel Sacher, from which it takes its name. Nowadays 1.2 million eggs, 80 tons of sugar, 70 tons of chocolate, 37 tons of apricot jam, 25 tons of butter and 30 tons of flour are used every year to bake it.
The traditional recipe for the cake, which consists of two layers of chocolate dough with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and dark chocolate icing with shreds of chocolate on the top and sides, is still used today, though the exact amounts of the ingredients are a well kept secret (Franz Sacher’s handwritten recipe is kept in the Hotel Sacher’s safe). Sachertorte is traditionally served with whipped cream
Until 1965, Hotel Sacher was involved in a long legal battle with the historic Demel pastry and chocolate shop, which also used to produce an ‘Original Sachertorte’. The cake is now called a ‘Demels Sachertorte’ and differs from the ‘Original’ insofar as its layer of apricot jam is not in the middle, but directly below the chocolate glaze.
The American author John Irving, an habitué of the Hotel Sacher in the Sixties, is a great lover of the Sachertorte and describes it lovingly in his novel The Hotel New Hampshire. He even called his dog Sacher.