Helga is a lovely girl from Austria who is also friend of my friend from Germany, Elisabeth. Throughout the four years that Elisabeth’s and my daughter were at the same secondary school, the school bus would drop them off very close to Elisabeth’s house and very often, if not on a daily basis, my daughter would be lucky enough to have to wait for me to pick her up chez Elizabeth … and in the meantime, while waiting for me, she would invariably be invited to partake of a wonderful array of home-made cakes and biscuits accompanied by proper, loose-leaf tea. Ah … those were the days. Because I too would sometimes be persuaded to pop in and have a cup of tea myself, with a beautiful slice of cake. The front door would open and a delectable come-hither aroma of sweet goodness would envelop me.
Elizabeth is a wizz at making cakes … unlike me. Baking is an art that veers on science. And I’m just not that scientific. Whereas, in my defence, I have to tell you that Elisabeth holds a degree in Chemistry … and so is not at all phased by all the fiddly difficulties that go into baking a cake. The ingredients have to be just right, the temperature of the oven too and … lots of other rigorous rules rear their ugly heads and have me wanting to tear my hair out. Why do you think bakeries and patisseries were invented if cakes were so easy to bake?
Anyway … the only cake I managed to bake decently is the Sachertorte. And I learned to make it at Elisabeth’s house one day when she organised a cooking-lunch for her girlfriends that included the above-mentioned Helga. I looked on very keenly and wrote down everything I saw. I must say this is a super-duper chocolate cake and is always a success with young and old alike. Thank you Helga! And thank you Elisabeth for all the wonderful biscuits and cakes I enjoyed at your house over the years!
The ingredients: 9 eggs, 200g sifted flour, 200g butter that is room-temperature soft, two bars of dark chocolate for a total of 200g, a total of 260g sugar divided into two equal parts, half a sachet of baking powder or yeast, a splash of sweet liqueuer or rum, and, last, your favourite jam.
Start by adding the baking powder/yeast to the sifted flour. Then crack the eggs and separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. It is a good idea to keep the egg whites in the fridge until you are ready to whisk them into shape. Egg whites ‘thicken’ a lot easier when they are cold.
Break up one of the chocolate bars into squares and melt bain-marie over a very low heat. If you do not have a bain-marie contraption … just put a plate over a pot with simmering water in it and put the chocolate squares on the plate and allow them to melt that way.
Use the electric beater to whisk the egg whites into a foamy consistency …. (having added a pinch of salt to the egg whites before starting). When the egg whites start firming up, add the other 130g sugar to them and mix well.
P our the cake mix equally into two cake tins which have been rubbed with butter. Any cake tin measuring between 22 and 24cm will do. If you prefer, you can just use one very large cake tin instead (28cm).
Preheat the oven at 160°C.
Thick and gooey inside, mmm. I have to be very honest, however, and say that the chocolate glaze on top of the cake was just too bitter for me (I used 70% cocoa solids unsweetened chocolate) and next time I would add some icing sugar to it to mellow it out a little.