Austrian Sachertorte

Schertorte

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte.

The Sachertorte is an elegant chocolate cake filled with apricot jam, covered with a smooth, fudge-like chocolate glaze, and decorated with chocolate piping and the word “Sacher” written across the top. Each slice is served with a generous portion of schlag (unsweetened whipped cream), meant for dipping each bite of cake in to balance the sweetness and texture.

The Sachertorte was first created in Austria in 1832 when Prince Metternich requested a fancy dessert for his dinner guests. His pastry chef was ill that night, so the task fell to the apprentice, Franz Sacher, who came up with the now famous cake that bears his name. Franz built a career on that cake, and his son Eduard later opened the Sacher Hotel in Vienna where Franz’s cake, made according to the hotel’s original and closely-guarded secret recipe, is served to this day (and can also be ordered online and shipped worldwide). The cake is so popular in Vienna that it has become an integral part of the city’s kaffeehaus tradition, with local bakeries and cafés serving up their own versions along with a dollop of schlag and a cup of steaming hot coffee.Sachertorte chef in disguise
Challenges like these are why I love the daring kitchen. Not only do we step outside our comfort zone to try something new but we also learn so much along the way. Take this challenge for example, we get to make a sponge cake, a chocolate glaze, writing chocolate, practice filling, glazing and piping. It sounds intimidating but the truth is, no one is there to judge you, the community at the daring kitchen is very supportive and to top that off, by the end of the day, you have a delicious creation to enjoy.
I really loved this challenge although I did a horrible job at piping the word Sacher on top of the cake. I used the writing chocolate when it was a little too warm, so it was runny but I still loved the practice and I know I will do better the next time I make this (and there is definitely a next time).
Sachertorte if you have never tried it before is a real treat. Intense chocolate notes beautifully complimented by the fruity apricot jam. Dipped in a little schlag (unsweetened whipping cream) your taste buds get to indulge in the contrast between the smooth cream, velvety rich ganache, the light and fluffy cake and the fruity jam.
I stuck to Korena’s recipe with two exception. I used 50:50 milk chocolate:70% cocoa chocolate because that’s the combination my kids like. The other change I did was to use chocolate ganache instead of the chocolate glaze because I don’t have a candy thermometer at the moment and I was scared I would miss up the glaze, so I took the safe way and used ganache. I listed both recipes, you can choose whichever one you like.
Thank you Korena for another amazing challenge!

Recipe Source:
Kaffeehaus: The Best Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague by Rick Rodgers, via Epicurious.

Writing chocolate from WickedGoodies.net

Sachertorte

Servings: 12-16

Cake Ingredients
¾ cup (180 gm) (4½ oz) (125 gm) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
9 tablespoons (135 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) confectioners’ sugar (aka icing sugar or powdered sugar)
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature (see note above about egg whites)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
½ cup (120 ml) (7 oz) (100 gm) granulated sugar
1 cup (120 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (for volume measurement, spoon gently into measuring cup and level top)
pinch fine grain salt

Assembly
Apricot Glaze (see recipe below)
Chocolate Glaze (see recipe below)
Writing Chocolate (see recipe below)
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream, cold

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to moderately hot 375˚F/350°F fan/190˚C/gas mark 5 with a rack in the centre 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.
2. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and heat over a small saucepan of barely simmering water (make sure that the bowl is not touching the simmering water) or in the microwave until just melted. Set aside to cool completely, stirring often.

 double broil

3. 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.
4. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
5. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed and very light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

6. 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.

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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.

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7. 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 this carefully so as not to deflate the egg whites.

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8. 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.

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9. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared springform pan.

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10. Bake in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/350°F fan/190˚C/gas mark 5 oven for 35-45 minutes (mine took exactly 40 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake will crack and dome in the middle as it bakes but will flatten out as it cools.

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11. 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.

12. 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.
13. Place 1 cake layer on the 8½-inch (22 cm) cardboard cake round and spread it generously with about half of the apricot glaze. Allow it to soak in.

fill
14. 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.

apricot glaze

15. 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. 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.

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16. With the writing chocolate, pipe the word “Sacher” in the middle of the cake and add any decorative flourishes you wish. Chill the cake until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour.

17. 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.

18. 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.

sacher cake

Apricot Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity (about 1 cup)

Ingredients
1¼ cup (300 ml) (14 oz) (400 gm) apricot jam or preserves
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water

Directions:

1. Boil the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.

Chocolate Glaze

Servings: 1 quantity

Ingredients
1 cup (240 ml) (7 oz) (200 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 ml) water
(4 oz) (115 gm) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions:

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/112°C, about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, use the method explained in this video.
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.

Ganache

1:1 ratio chocolate: heavy cream

200 grams chocolate (I used 100 gm 70% cocoa chocolate and 100 grams milk chocolate)
200 ml cream
Directions:
Chop the chocolate
Warm the cream in the microwave or on the stove top until it comes to a simmer but don’t allow it to come to a boil
Pour the cream over the chocolate and leave it for 3-5 minutes
Using a spatula, stir the chocolate and cream till the chocolate dissolves completely
At first you will think there is too much cream but as you keep stirring you will see it is not
ganache
Allow the ganache to cool down for 10 minutes then pour it over the cake

Writing Chocolate

Servings: 1 quantity

Ingredients
¼ cup (60 ml) (1.8 oz) (50 gm) chopped good quality chocolate
½ – 1 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions:

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.

writing chocolate
2. Place the chocolate in a disposable piping bag or small Ziplock bag and snip off the tip to make a small hole. I recommend a practice run on waxed paper before writing on the cake.

Tip:I usually place the bag into a glass, that makes pouring the chocolate into it easier

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
The cake can be stored up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Notes:

As is typical with European-style cakes, this one is a little drier and sturdier than the American-style butter cakes that many of us may be familiar with. This is the reason that Sachertorte is served with whipped cream – for moisture! If you are concerned that your cake is going to be too dry, you can make a simple syrup (boil together equal parts by weight of water and sugar; let cool) to brush over the cake layers after you’ve split them. The apricot glaze also adds some moisture. That said, I personally didn’t find the cake dry.

The cake relies on egg whites for volume rather than chemical leavening such as baking powder or baking soda. For your egg whites to whip properly, you need to make sure that they and every bowl, spoon, or whisk that touches them are 100% free of any fat (ie, egg yolks) or grease. I like to wipe down my bowl and whisk with a vinegar-moistened paper towel to make sure they are totally grease-free. Be very careful when separating your whites and yolks: even a speck of yolk in the whites can prevent them from whipping up properly.

Use high quality bittersweet chocolate in this recipe – the ingredients are fairly simple, so quality makes a big difference! (I used Callebaut bittersweet callets, which look like chocolate chips but are pure chocolate with none of the additives that chocolate chips usually contain.)

Definitely use a cardboard cake round to assemble the cake on – it will make it much, much easier to move the cake after glazing it (I wish I’d used one).

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Mamonia (Syrian semolina pudding)

Mamounia (Syrian semolina pudding)

Our Arabic Flavor  recipe for  the month of September was Mamounia, a wonderful Syrian dessert that comes from the city of Aleppo.

Mamounia is a smooth and velvety semolina pudding that is usually topped with cinnamon and nuts and it is served with string cheese, cream and pita bread. I know the idea of combining pudding with bread and cheese may seem odd  at first but keep in mind that this is a breakfast dish in Syria. The mamounia pudding is served early in the morning to provide a sweet start of the day that will  give you rnough energy to sustain you all day long. While the cheese and the bread are added to balance the sweetness of the mamounia.

That being said, I have never eaten mamonia for breakfast. I usually serve it as a dessert topped with chopped pistachio but you can use any nuts you like. You can also add a dusting of cinnamon and a dollop of cream, serve it warm for a wonderfully comforting winter dessert or you can serve it cold out of the fridge in the summer.

Whichever way you decide to serve it, mamounia is definitely a recipe worth trying, I do hope you will give it a try.

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Avocado salad dressing

Avocado salad dressing chef in disguise
The first Monday of the month always brings our secret recipe club reveal and for this month, I was assigned Edesia’s notebook. Lesa, the wonderful lady behind the blog lives in Wisconsin and has two adorable daughters. She loves trying out new recipes and that is why she started her blog in 2007, to keep track of all the recipes she experiments with. It was not easy choosing just one recipe but since It’s been a while since I last posted a salad dressing I ended up making her avocado salad dressing. 
You say avocado and most people would shrink away worried about the fat content but what many don’t know is that avocados are really a power house in nutrition. They are rich in fiber,  healthy fats (monounsaturated oleic acid, a “heart healthy” fatty acid that is believed to be one of the main reasons for the health benefits of olive oil.),they are also very high in potassium (which should support healthy blood pressure levels). Added to that avocados are high in antioxidants, including Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These nutrients are very important for eye health and lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
I modified the recipe a little to fit what I had on hand, I used yogurt instead of butter milk, I added the juice of a lime, a clove of garlic and a touch of oregano and mustard. The result was a creamy velvety dressing that is loaded with flavor. We all loved it so much that I actually made it twice.
This dressing is thick in texture, if you would like your dressing to be a little thinner, you can add a little water or you can leave it thick and serve it as a dip with some vegetables.

Avocado salad dressing

 

Ingredients:

1 cup low fat buttermilk (I used yogurt)
¼ cup of fresh parsley
1 medium avocado
1 green onion, green part only
1 lime juiced
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon oregano
1 clove garlic (optional)
Salt to taste
Water to thin, if necessary
 

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For a thinner dressing add more buttermilk or some water

Moravian Kolaches (Dvojctihodné / Moravské koláče)

kolaches with plum filling

The September Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Lucie from ChezLucie. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat –Kolaches!

Kolach are Czech traditional sweet treats. They come in three varieties,Pražský koláč (Prague Kolach),Chodské koláče (Kolache from Chodsko) and Dvojctihodné/Moravské koláče (Two Fillings/Moravian Kolaches).

Prague kolache is basically a cake like loaf filled with a rich pastry cream and topped with streusel. Chodsko kolach on the other hand is pizza like flat bread that is topped with jam, poppy seed and quark filling. Quark is a type of fresh dairy product, commonly used in some Europian cuisines. It is made by warming soured milk until the desired degree of coagulation (denaturation, curdling) of milk proteins is met, and then straining the milk.

Morovian Kolaches are little buns that are filled with quark and are then topped with jam and streusel. I decided to make these because I loved the small portions. The kids loved having these in their lunch boxes or after school for a snack.

When you bite into these Morovian kolaches, you will fall in love with the soft and fluffy bun that is perfectly complimented by the creamy quark filling.The plum jam topping adds a beautiful color and a lot of flavor while the streusel adds a little crunch to make the texture more interesting.

Thank you Lucie for an amazing challenge, I know I will make these again and again

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Maamoul (date stuffed cookies)

date maamoul

You walk into the house and you’re immediately enchanted by the smell coming from the kitchen, you close your eyes and take it in:Gentle spices, orange blossom water, mastic.the scent of maamoul cookies baking!

You hear the familiar sound of the wooden maamoul molds being banged time after time. The sounds of Laughter and chatter draw you to kitchen. There you are greeted by smiling faces and mounds of beautifully decorated cookies waiting for a final dusting of powdered sugar, that will make them almost too pretty to eat. Almost!

You snatch a few ignoring the advice :”don’t ruin your dinner”.No dinner can compete with freshly baked maamoul!

You join in the fun and allow the worries of the day to melt away.

Eid is on the way .

maamoul

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