To many people Sachertorte is as Viennese as the Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or the Ferris wheel in the Prater. Most tourists probably clog the famous Kaffeehäuser (coffee shops) only to order a slice of this famous chocolate cake.
I admit that we were guilty of the same thing when we made a trip to Vienna a couple of years ago. Since I had no idea where to find a vegan Sachertorte, I stuck to my regular black espresso while P ordered a piece of this famous chocolate cake. When it arrived it looked very simple and very pretty. It was a plain cake covered with the most perfect chocolate glaze I had ever seen. It was velvety and so even that I couldn’t believe actual people had made this cake. I thought it was too beautiful to eat and maybe we really should have just admired it for its simple beauty.
But then P took a bite and was completely underwhelmed. The cake, he said, was dry and too sweet. And that was it. Because of this experience I never really considered making a vegan Sachertorte. I read on several online forums that many people shared P’s experience and it seems that you either like Sachertorte or you hate it. But during Vegan Mofo so many readers requested a recipe for Sachertorte that I thought I should finally give it a try.
It took me four tries to get this recipe right. For several reasons this cake turned out to be quite a challenge. First, I have never tried Sachertorte before, so I really have no idea how this is supposed to taste. Next, the recipe that is supposed to be closest to the original (the original recipe is a secret) is the most unvegan cake recipe I ever came across. It calls for 6 eggs. And last, the chocolate glaze that is used to decorate this cake is very difficult to make and requires some experience.
As I said, it took me four tries to make a good cake. My first one was perfect: moist and not too sweet, with a rich chocolate flavour, exactly the way I like a good chocolate cake. But then I read all that stuff about Sachertorte and my head started to spin. My cake had to be drier! And sweeter. So I made another one. Which was inedible: dry and hard. The third one came out very, very moist. It tasted great, but it wasn’t a chocolate cake. It was really more a chocolate fudge brownie. (All the Sachertorte pictures in this post are those of the “fudge brownie” version. When I made the cake again and it turned out perfectly the light was so bad that I couldn’t get a decent picture.)
So I came back to my first version, which I really liked best. I don’t claim to have come up with a perfect vegan equivalent to the egg ladden Sachertorte recipes I found online. But this is a tasty and elegant cake that you can serve on all kinds of occasions. It is light and fluffy with exactly the right amount of chocolate to make it, as I think, the perfect chocolate cake. Plus, in my opinion, what really makes this cake a Sachertorte is not so much the cake but the glaze, which is rather special.
A word about the glaze:
When I first heard about the way this was made I was quite sceptical. You need to mix a homemade sugar syrup with melted chocolate. This will result in a soft, velvety and perfectly even glaze, if you make it right. Wait, boiling sugar with water and then mixing it with melted chocolate? Everyone will tell you this is a bad idea, right? And indeed this method makes it very, very difficult to get the cake done. But believe me, a regular chocolate frosting will not do.
Many, many recipes I found tell you to boil sugar and water for 4 to 6 minutes, melt some chocolate and mix those two elements. I have tried this several times and failed. As expected all I got was hard and seized chocolate lumps. Then I googled some more and found an amazing blog tutorial (in German) on Sachertorte. The author of that blog suggests to boil the sugar and water, let it cool and then to stir in the chopped chocolate. This worked perfectly well and I got a great glaze. But still getting this glaze right is nothing for baking novices.
Since I started using refined coconut oil in my recipes I got a lot of questions about its properties and how it works in baking recipes. So I included a couple of pictures at the end of this post to show you how to use coconut oil and how its behavior might be different from that of margarine, butter, or other vegetable oils like canola. (Click them to see a larger version.) Before making this cake please make sure that all of your ingredients have room temperature. I usually take my coconut oil out of the fridge the evening before I plan to make something. That way it definitely has the right consistency.
Sachertorte (makes 1 20 cm or 8 inch round cake)
For the cake:
110 g (1/2 cup) refined coconut oil (softened), cubed
125 g (1/2 plus 1/8 cup) sugar
120 g (1/2 cup) plain soy yoghurt
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150 g (5.3 oz) chocolate (70%)
2 tablespoons soy milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 g (1 1/2 cups) flour
200 g (7 oz) apricot jam
For the glaze:
200 g (1 cup) sugar
125 gml (1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon) water
1 tablespoon agave nectar
150 g (5.3 oz) chocolate (70%)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 20 cm (8 inch) round pan and set aside.
In a bowl combine coconut oil and sugar. Use a hand-held mixer to cream together these two ingredients. It usually takes a while until they will combine and then they will probably all end up as a huge lump collecting around the beaters (Picture 1). Just continue beating: hold the mixer in the center of the bowl and keep it running on the highest speed setting. After a while the lumps should shoot out of the beaters and you will be able to cream sugar and oil together (Picture 2). This mixture won’t look as fluffy and even as if it was made using margarine or butter, but it’s ok.
Add yoghurt and vanilla and beat again. Mixing in the yoghurt will not create an even mass but create tiny lumps. (Picture 3) This is normal.
Set aside and melt the chocolate. Pour into the yoghurt mix still using the hand-held mixer, whisk well to combine. Also add soy milk and whisk again.
Sift together baking powder, salt, and flour and add to the remaining ingredients. Beat very well until the batter is smooth and no lumps remain. Please be aware that this batter is supposed to be very thick. (Picture 4) Don’t add more liquid.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a large spatula to smooth the batter. (Picture 5). Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan.
Remove the cake and place it upside down on a cooling rack (Picture 6). Use a large serrated knife to carefully slice the cake in half. Use a large spatula to remove the upper halve and place it on a second cooling rack or a piece of parchment paper.
Strain the apricot jam and place it in a small saucepan. Briefly heat it. It should be hot but not bubbling. Now spread some jam on the bottom half of the cake. Place the second half on top and glaze the whole cake with jam. This is important as the jam layer will help the chocolate glaze to spread evenly.
Keep the cake on the cooling rack and set aside.
Now make the glaze:
Place the water, agave nectar, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to medium high and boil for 6 minutes. Make sure it’s bubbling all the time. Remove from heat and let cool for exactly 10 minutes. Meanwhile chop the chocolate.
Stir the chocolate pieces into the sugar syrup and stir constantly and carefully until the chocolate is dissolved.
Place a piece of parchment paper under the cooling rack with the cake. Take a spatula and while pouring the chocolate syrup over the cake make sure to glaze it completely. This works best if you pour all over the top and use the spatula to help the syrup find its direction. You will probably have too much syrup for this cake and won’t use all but it is important that the glaze can pour all over the cake. Let the excess glaze simply drip down the rack and onto the parchment paper.
Let the glaze dry and make sure not to move the cake or the glaze will crack. Once it is dry remove the cake from the rack. Use a knife or large spatula to lift it from the rack.