Austrian sacher torte cake is in the history books as one of the best European desserts, and I'm going to show you how to make it yourself. A moist chocolate sponge is coated and filled with a fine layer of apricot jam before being cloaked in a smooth chocolate glaze. It is a Viennese specialty that defines elegance and this sacher torte recipe takes the famous classic Sachertorte to the next level!
💡 What is a Sachertorte cake?
So what is the original Sacher torta? I love the Sacher Torte origin story. Sachertorte cake was first made in the 1800s by an apprentice chef by the name of Franz Sacher who worked in Prince Metternich's royal household. Prince Metternich of Vienna ordered a special cake be created to serve to his guests at court, but by some twist of fate, the head chef was unwell so a young Franz Sacher had to step up and create a cake instead. The classic Sacher torte cake was the result, quite a feat for a 16-year-old apprentice!
I love Vienna, their food and pastry culture are on another level! Why not also try this wiener schnitzel recipe?
Back to the desserts, Sacher cake became famous in Austria and you could say that this young baker to the royals became one of the earliest celebrity chefs! His son opened Hotel Sacher in Vienna many years later where the original Sacher-Torte recipe is still served today.
I, in fact, tried the original Sacher torte cake in 2022 summer in Vienna, and have to say, maybe because of the huge volume they have to make the production each day, I was surprisingly underwhelmed by it and found it way too dry.
So, in my cake recipe, I use different chocolate sponge cake that is super moist and will highlight plenty of nuances so your cake will turn out even better than the ones they are currently serving in Vienna!
💡 What does Sacher torta taste like?
Sacher Torte is effectively an Austrian chocolate cake with apricot jam. Imagine a rich and moist chocolate sponge with warm undertones, covered in a buttery ganache that has just the right amount of soft bite to it. Then, delicious tang of apricot jam runs through each chocolaty mouthful, and you have the taste of Sachertorte.
If you like Black Forest cake you will love the taste of Sacher-torte cake, and other chocolate cakes with fruit flavors like this chocolate orange bundt cake.
🌟 Why this is the best Sacher-torte cake recipe
- The flavor: I have often eaten Sacher torte cake in cafes and found that I often cannot taste the apricot properly as the chocolate flavor can overpower it. I made sure with this Sacher torte recipe that you get all the delicious flavors coming through, perfectly balanced.
- The texture: Another issue I have had is encountering dry Sacher cake. And there is nothing worse than dry cake! I worked hard to create the perfect moist Sacher Torte cake texture. You will love it!
- The simplicity: Some other methods for making Sacher torte cake involve complex baking techniques but mine is so simple, making this Sacher torte recipe super easy, even if you are a beginner! Beyond the technique, the Sacher cake ingredients are also super simply and easy to find.
📝 Ingredient notes
For the chocolate cake
- All-purpose flour: Use all-purpose, or plain flour in this Austrian Sachetorte cake, or any other low protein content flour can also work as cake flour, like pastry flour. Here is a helpful flour guide that you can read for more information.
- Cocoa powder: Intensify the chocolate flavors by using high-quality unsweetened, dutch processed cocoa powder.
- Granulated sugar: Sugar plays an important role in baking, it isn't just for sweetness! I use two types of sugar in this recipe, white granulated sugar and brown sugar.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar contains more moisture than white granulated sugar and has delicious caramel undertones too from the molasses content. Run out of brown sugar? Here are some brown sugar substitutes.
- Baking soda: Baking soda is a chemical leavening agent but also plays an important role in keeping baked goods moist. Run out? Find a baking soda substitute.
- Baking powder: Baking powder plays a similar role to baking soda, but they are not the same! Baking powder helps the cake to rise and makes the crumb light and fluffy. Here's my guide on baking powder substitutes.
- Salt: It may seem odd to put salt in a cake, but salt is a flavor enhancer so a small amount will really bring out the chocolate and apricot cake flavors and help to balance the sweetness.
- Vegetable oil: Baking with oil keeps cakes as moist and tender as possible, and using a neutral flavor oil like vegetable oil does not affect the taste.
- Eggs: Eggs are a real baking superhero and I use both egg whites and egg yolks in this recipe. Always make sure they are at room temperature and to learn more, read my guide on what eggs do in baking.
- Milk: The milk adds moisture to this Sacher torte cake and keeps it from drying out. Take the milk out of the fridge a little while before making this recipe so that it is at room temperature.
- Coffee: Coffee is a bit of a secret ingredient of mine, when a small amount is used in chocolate cakes it really heightens the cocoa flavor without the coffee taste! Use freshly brewed strong coffee, at room temperature.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all Ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
For the filling and frosting
- Dark chocolate: Use good quality, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate. I recommend Callebaut 811 Dark chocolate callets.
- Heavy cream: To make the best ganache, use high-quality heavy cream (or it is known as double cream in some places) with at least 36% fat content.
- Unsalted butter: Always bake with unsalted butter so that you control the quality and quantity of salt in a recipe. The butter for this Sachertorte cake frosting needs to be at room temperature. Did you know you can make your own butter? Here's how to make butter at home.
- Apricot jam: Buy the highest quality apricot jam (or apricot preserves) you can find to get the best apricot flavor.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all Ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
👩🍳 How to make this recipe
1. How to make the chocolate cake layers
- Preheat the oven to 200°C or 425°F (no fan).
- Whip the wet ingredients together with an Electric hand mixer for 1-2 minutes until the milk, egg, oil, sugar, coffee, and milk are fully combined.
- Sift the dry ingredients together. Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt together into a separate large mixing bowl.
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are just combined, but do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into a lined baking tin measuring 20cm / 8-inch.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C / 356°F (no fan).
- Bake the Sachertorte cake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the moist chocolate sponge on a cooling rack and then chill it in the fridge.
- Slice the cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife to create two layers.
💡 Top Tip: I always recommend preheating the oven slightly higher than needed as the temperature will drop when you open it to put the cake in. Then turn the temperature down once it is inside.
2. How to make the chocolate glaze
- Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat and place the chocolate into a bowl.
- When the cream reaches a simmering point, pour the cream over the chocolate and let the two sit together for a minute before stirring.
- Stir in the room-temperature butter in small chunks until it is all incorporated and you have a smooth and silky chocolate glaze
- Let the ganache come to room temperature before using it but don´t let it cool completely
💡 Top Tip: Test the chocolate ganache texture by pouring a small amount onto a plate or glass surface. If it is too runny then it is still too warm, but if it is thick and seems stiff then it is too cold.
3. How to assemble the Sachertorte
- Blend the apricot jam and then gently heat it. Allow it to come back down to room temperature, and then apply a layer of jam on top of one of the cake layers.
- Place the second layer on top and apply a thin layer of apricot jam all around the edges and on top of the Sacher torte cake.
- Apply the chocolate glaze. You can pour the glaze straight onto the cake, or use a piping bag if you prefer. Smooth the top all over and let the ganache come all the way down the sides.
- Refrigerate for 10 minutes for the chocolate glaze to set before slicing up and serving.
Serve the Sachertorte cake fresh or store it for 2-3 days at room temperature or in the fridge.
💡 Top Tip: You can also push the apricot jam through a sieve and discard any pieces of fruit to achieve the smooth texture you need.
💡 Flavor variations & Substitutions
Traditionally Sachertorte cake is decorated with the name 'Sacher' across the top in melted chocolate writing, so you could try this! I recommend practicing first on a plate.
Sachertorte is usually served with unsweetened whipped cream, and I love to enjoy it this way but you could also try it with a side serving of mascarpone frosting or even German buttercream. And why not add some crunchy texture by sprinkling your Sacher torte with toasted flaked almonds on top before serving?
If you are baking around a dietary intolerance, allergy or preference then check out my baking guides for some help with making substitutions for common baking ingredients.
🎓 Expert tips
- Do not overbake the sponge as this can result in a dry texture. You will know when Sacher torte cake is ready when a toothpick comes out clean and without sticky batter or crumbs attached to it.
- Baking is a science, so weigh your ingredients using a digital scale and do not use the cup system or measure by volume as it is not precise enough.
- All ovens vary so use an oven thermometer to ensure it is the right temperature.
- Preheating to a higher temperature and then turning the oven down once the cake is inside is a great baking hack that compensates for the cooling effect that happens when you open the door to put the cake in.
- Pour the ganache over the Sacher torta cake when it is about room temperature. If the ganache is too hot, it won´t set on the cake. If the ganache is too cold, it will set in a "wrinkled" way.
🥣 Equipment Notes
Always weigh your ingredients using a digital scale rather than measuring by volume, baking needs precision and it is the only way to ensure you use the correct quantities.
A digital oven thermometer will help you to bake at the right temperature.
A rubber spatula is one of my favorite kitchen tools and allows you to fold ingredients together smoothly.
Using an electric hand mixer combines the wet ingredients as quickly and efficiently as possible, and aerates the batter which keeps it light and fluffy!
A cooling rack will help the cake cool completely before decorating.
I make this Viennese Sachertorte in an 8 inch / 20 cm Spring form cake tin lined with parchment paper which makes 8 perfectly sized cake servings.
❓Austrian Sache torte FAQs
Sacher torte was named after the chef who created it, Franz Sacher. And torte is the German word for cake. So it means, quite simply, Franz Sacher's cake!
Sachertorte can be stored in the fridge or in an airtight container at room temperature and consumed within 2-3 days.
Yes. you can freeze Sacher torte, although for best results freeze the chocolate sponge before decorating and defrost it before then glazing and serving the cake.
Some Sacher Torte cake recipes contain rum, but just for flavor as the alcohol is cooked out whilst baking.
Sacher torte originated in Vienna, Austria in the royal court of Prince Metternich in 1832.
🍰 More Cake Recipes
Austrian Sacher Torte Cake
For the chocolate cake (Makes 1 x 8 inch /20cm sponge cake)
- 170 g (1⅓ cups) All purpose flour Any low protein content flour eg. pastry flour can work too.
- 45 g (½ cups) Cocoa powder Unsweetened, dutch processed
- 120 g (⅔ cups) Granulated sugar
- 120 g (⅔ cups) Brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 70 g (⅓ cups) Vegetable oil
- 2 Eggs Room temperature
- 165 g (⅔ cups) Milk Room temperature
- 120 g (½ cups) Coffee Freshly brewed strong coffee, room temperature
Chocolate ganache glaze
- 100 g (½ cups) Dark chocolate Good quality semi sweet chocolate eg. Callebaut 811 Dark chocolate callets
- 100 g (½ cups) Heavy cream 36% fat
- 10 g (2 teaspoon) Unsalted butter Room temperature
- 200 g (¾ cups) Apricot jam blend it first so it is extra smooth
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
Make the chocolate sponge
- Heat the oven to 200°C or 425°F (no fan) and prepare a 20cm / 8 inch baking tin with parchment paper.
- With an Electric hand mixer whip together the wet ingredients for 1-2 minutes: Room temperature egg, oil, sugar, coffee and milk.
- Sift dry ingredients: Flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients then fold just until combined then pour cake batter into the prepared baking pan.
- Reduce oven temperature to 180°C / 356°F (no fan). Bake for 50 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the chocolate sponge on cooling rack. Chill it in the fridge before cutting it in half horizontally.
Assembling the Sachertorte cake
- Blend the apricot jam then gently heat it so it will be super smooth. Let it come back to room temperature, then apply a layer of jam on top of one of the bottom cake layers, then place the second layer on top and apply a thin apricot jam layer all around the cake. Refrigerate while preparing the chocolate glaze
- Heat cream until simmering, pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let the two sit for a minute then stir, then stir in butter until smooth. Let it come to about room temperature.
- Test the chocolate ganache texture on a plate or glass. It should not be too runny (too warm) and it should not be too thick neither (too cold), but just at the right consistency that is related to being just at the right temperature when pouring it over the cake.
- Apply the chocolate glaze on top of the cake by either pouring ganache on top or using a piping bag. Smooth the top and let the ganache come all the way to the sides.
- Refrigerate for 10 minutes for the chocolate glaze to set.
- Serve the cake fresh or store for 2-3 days at room temperature or refrigerated.
- Measure your ingredients with a digital scale for accuracy.
- All ingredients for the chocolate cake must be at room temperature to properly emulsify: eggs, milk, coffee etc.
- Do not skip salt that will balance the sweetness of this cake.
- Use high fat content heavy cream (36%) and good quality chocolate (eg. Callebaut) for the chocolate ganache.
- Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details, and science behind baking. Consider this recipe more like an in-depth tutorial, literally the only recipe you will ever need to make delicious chocolate sponge cake.
- Do not overbake your sponge layers as that will result in a dry texture. Use the toothpick test to check if your cake is ready.
- When pouring the ganache on the top of the cake, make sure that the ganache is at the right temperature (consistency) that is neither too thin (warm), nor too thick (cold).