I had been in the mood to make something sweet for the past few days and could never decide what to make until I ran across a recipe for the Sacher Torte in The Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan. According to most accounts that I've read, the Sacher Torte was invented by a 16 year-old apprentice chef in Vienna, Austria in 1832. It's a huge deal there, with varying opinions from folks who've had it at the famed Hotel Sacher. Nathan's version sounded interesting, chocolate cake topped with apricot preserves and covered in a chocolate glaze. What's not to like! I had to give it a try.
While I had the cake baking in the oven, I decided to get on-line and find out a little more about this Sacher Torte. Low and behold, oh no, oh dear, I found out that the cake is famously dry. What to do? When my cake finished baking and I took it out of the oven, I had this ominous feeling that all accounts were true, it was not going to be moist and tender the way we Americans like our cake. Although, Nathan's recipe included potato flour which is supposed to keep baked goods moist, I was still afraid, very afraid. I didn't want this venture to turn into a huge disappointment, so I set out to make sure it wasn't.
I found a remedy to counter the dryness at JoePastry, where he suggested brushing the cake with a simple syrup. His recipe is listed in his post entitled Is Sacher Torte really "dry"? where he also explains why the cake ends up being dry in the first place. Okay, so far I've hopefully remedied the dryness of the cake. As I was perusing the many articles about the cake I ran across a real upscale foodie at Chubby Hubby where his wife S came up with the perfect solution to the Sacher Torte dilemma. It was too late for the cake but her suggestion for the chocolate ganache sounded divine.
I topped the cake with some yummy apricot-pear preserves that my dear friend Shuri had made and covered it with S's divine ganache. It was late when I finally got the cake assembled so I let it refrigerate overnight. This morning I plated a slice of my home-style Sacher Torte with a side of freshly whipped cream and indulged with my morning cup of coffee.
This cake is dense but between the potato flour and the simple syrup doing their jobs, it was not dry. The combination of the lightly chocolate flavored cake with the sweet-tart flavor of the apricot-pear preserves and the rich chocolate ganache was... well... wonderful. I was pleasantly surprised.