Sachertorte, taste of Vienna


Sachertorte, taste of Vienna.

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he ‘Sachertorte’: its taste is both austere and elegant, characteristics it has in common with the city where it was born, Vienna. Eating a slice of this cake recalls a time when a small group of powerful aristocrats decided the future of an empire. It’s hard to try it without hearing the echo of a waltz, the passage of an ancient carriage or the clink of a sword.

A young apprentice and the birth of a myth.

Principe Klemens von Metternich (img-02)

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he first cookbooks explaining the preparation of a dessert similar to Sachertorte date back to the beginning of the Eighteenth Century. It seems that the official debut of this sweet delicacy took place in 1832, at a dinner hosted by Prince Metternich.
The nobleman assigned his personal cook with the task of making a cake for the important personalities who were invited: it’s easy to imagine his disappointment when, a few hours before the beginning of the meal, he was informed that his servant had fallen ill and could not perform his duties. The Prince was therefore forced to entrust the delicate assignment to a simple apprentice, Franz Sacher, who at the time was only sixteen.
Legend wants that he said:

“Dass er mir aber keine Schand’ macht, heut’ Abend!”

(“Let there be no shame on me tonight!”)

The young Franz, well aware of the great opportunity he was given, rolled up his sleeves: inspired by the Austrian culinary tradition, he invented a dessert that was greatly enjoyed by the guests: the Sachertorte.


Sachertorte.

Franz Sacher.

Franz Sacher (img-03)

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eepening the knowledge of the life of Franz Sacher, it appears quite clear that the invention of his famous cake didn’t happen by chance, since he belonged to a family with a strong tradition in catering and hospitality.
After his apprenticeship in the kitchens of Prince Metternich, Franz was employed as a cook in the city of Bratislava. Later on, he served on the ferry boat connecting the cities of Vienna and Budapest and in a famous casino in Pest. Back in Vienna, he opened a refined deli.
He had two sons, Carl and Eduard. The latter perpetuated his legacy by perfecting the recipe of Sachertorte when working at Demel, one of the most famous bakeries in the Austrian capital.

Hotel Sacher: charm and elegance during the Belle Epoque.

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duard Sacher is remembered not just for having ‘perfected’ the cake of his father, but also for his commercial initiatives. He began by opening a refined restaurant in Vienna: this was so successful that a few years later he started a club near the Opera House, its guests were offered alcohol and different types of entertainment. During time, the palace hosting the club was enlarged so as to provide catering and accommodation: it was the year 1876, the Hotel Sacher was born.

Hotel Sacher tea room, Salzburg.

Probably not everyone knows that great part of its success was due to the hard work of Anna Fuchs, wife of Eduard. When in 1892 her husband died, ‘Frau Sacher’ took over the reins of the hotel, showing an emancipation uncommon at that time. Thanks to her remarkable skills, she managed it so well that it became a reference point for the international upper class during the ‘Belle Epoque’, the ‘golden age’ of the European continent (*1).
The most important aristocrats, artists, intellectuals and businessmen were accomodated in its beautiful rooms, served by a huge number of very efficient waiters. The ‘Sacher’ was much more than just a place to eat and sleep: its famous guests loved to spend their time in its lounges, surrounded by class and elegance, enjoying some of the best moments of their lives.

Note:
* 1: The ‘Belle Epoque’ ended at the beginning of the First World War.


Hotel Sacher, tea room.

The Sachertorte at the First Viennese Culinary Exhibition.

Hofburg, Vienna.

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n 1884 Eduard Sacher, together with a group of important hoteliers, was involved in the organization of the First Viennese Culinary Exhibition (*1). This event, at that time unique in its kind, was smaller but in a way similar to the World’s Fairs (*2). Its goal was to showcase the best the Austrian Culinary Tradition had to offer, promoting it around the world. From January the 5th to the 10th, the participants were invited to taste typical foods and to visit a great number of stands showing dishes, tablecloths and cooking equipments. Many attractions were organized to entertain them: for example, it was possible to walk trough a great tunnel dug in the ice, meant to preserve meat and fish.
It’s almost needless to say that the Sachertorte, already considered one of the most famous Viennese specialities, had a place of honor.
The initiative of Eduard and his colleagues was so successful to require the police to control the great number of visitors and ensure their safety. All the revenues were donated to charity.

Notes:
*1: The ‘Erste Wiener Kochkunstausstellung’.
*2: The World’s Fairs, also known as International Exhibitions, are important events held every five years in different parts of the world: each of the participating nations shows the best it has to offer in terms of culture, technology and creativity.


Vienna, Rathaus.

Two cakes at war.

Cannon.

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he history of the most famous cake in the world was marked by a legal dispute between the Hotel Sacher and the renowned Viennese backery Demel. This dispute lasted many years and was centered on the right to commercialize the ‘Original’ Sachertorte.
To understand the complex issue, it’s important to remember that Eduard Sacher perfected the recipe invented by his father while working for Demel.

Sachertorte, detail.

After he left this job, he founded the famous hotel: when in 1934 it went bankrupt, his son Eduard (*1) was hired by Demel. Meanwhile, the new owners of the hotel continued to sell the cake, creating a competitive situation with the backery and causing the lawsuit. The contention between the two was so sharp that everything was debated: from the use of certain ingredients to the procedure of preparation. An agreement was finally reached in 1963: the Hotel Sacher was allowed to make the ‘Original Sachertorte’ and Demel had the right to use the title ‘Eduard-Sacher-Torte’.

Note:
*1: He had the same name of his father.

Metternich: the first fan of the Sachertorte.

Prince Wenzel von Metternich (img-04)

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ranz Sacher invented his famous cake when working for the Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, one of the most important European statesmen during the first half of the Nineteenth Century. The nobleman distinguished himself as ambassador and foreign minister in a period of time deeply influenced by the rise and the decline of Napoleon Bonaparte. His participation to the Congress of Vienna in 1814 (*1) was fundamental: during this historical event the representatives of the winning nations decided the new political order after the fall of the French Emperor (*2). In this occasion, as in many others, Metternich proved to be an ardent conservative, committed to preserve the balance of power. During his life, he always tried to defend the established order, using also violent repressions: these measures made him a typical representative of the so-called ‘ancien régime’ (the ‘old regime’). In 1848, the same kind of reactionary attitude caused the explosion of revolutionary movements all across Europe.

Notes:
*1: The Congress of Vienna was held from November 1814 to June 1815 in Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn).
*2: Napoleon was definetely defeated in June 1915 at the Battle of Waterloo.


Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace.

Taste of Vienna.

Austrian two-headed eagle.

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ienna is the evolution of a Roman military camp known as Vindobona: little more than a garrison, it was built to defend the Empire’s borders from the attacks of barbarian peoples. This center grew over the centuries thanks to its strategic position at the gates of Eastern Europe.
In 1438, the powerful Habsburg family established in Vienna its seat of power: under their rule, year after year, this place assumed the majestic appearance that still preserves.
At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, after the defeat of Napoleon, the city hosted a very important Congress organized to decide the future or Europe (*1): for nearly a year, the most important diplomats of the time took fundamental decisions in the halls of its splendid palaces, making of this capital the pulsating heart of the entire continent.



Thanks to the wealth deriving from such an amount of power, culture and arts flourished, especially music. How not to mention, for example, the work of the Strauss family: their waltzes were the ‘soundtrack’ of an entire era.
Even today this city is deeply characterized by a romantic atmosphere: it’s hard not to feel a kind of nostalgia when walking along the ‘Blue Danube’ or through elegant streets that bear witness of an ancient, timeless grandeur.

Vienna is the cradle of a civilization finding its essence in elegance, austerity and taste for tradition.

Note:
*1: The Congress of Vienna was held at the Schönbrunn Palace.


Vienna: Schönbrunn Palace.

How to.

HOW TO MAKE THE SACHERTORTE

H

ere follows a video showing how to make the famous Sachertorte.

The main ingredients:
Dark chocolate;
Apricot jam;
Butter (some use margarine);
Egg yolks and egg whites;
Flour;
Honey;
Cream;
Sugar;
Salt;

December 5, National Sachertorte Day.

THE ‘ORIGINAL SACHERTORTE’ AND THE ‘EDUARD-SACHER-TORTE’

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ven if the ‘Original’ Sachertorte, made by the Hotel Sacher, and the ‘Eduard-Sacher-Torte’, made by Demel backery, are quite similar to each other, they have some differences. Here follows a short list of them:
The icing: The icing on the Original Sachertorte is made with three different types of dark chocolate. Its recipe is still a secret;
The layers of jam: the Original Sachertorte has two layers, the Eduard-Sacher-Torte just one;
The consistency: the ‘Original Sachertorte’ is usually softer and more grainy that the Eduard-Sacher-Torte;
The plaques: the slices of the ‘Original Sachertorte’ are decorated with a small disc of chocolate bearing the text ‘Hotel Sacher Wien’. The cake made by Demel is decorated with a triangular chocolate plaque bearing the text ‘Eduard-Sacher-Torte’.

THE SECRET OF THE SACHERTORTE

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t is said that the recipe of the Original Sachertorte, invented by Franz Sacher and ‘perfected’ by his son Eduard, hides a secret: something that, if possible, makes this cake even more fascinating. Many think that this secret consists in the particular balance of its ingredients. Many others focus their attention on the icing, prepared with three different types of dark chocolate: a characteristic that deeply affects both the consistency and the taste of this delicious dessert.

THE GUESTS OF FRANZ JOSEPH EAT … AT THE HOTEL SACHER

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t is said that the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, probably for the spartan education he received, did not enjoy refined food and was accustomed to brief meals. This last ‘detail’ represented quite a problem for the guest of its State Banquets, in fact the etiquette required them to stop eating when the Emperor had finished. So, it happened quite often that dignitaries, nobles and intellectuals left the royal table still hungry: it’s interesting to find out that some of them were used to eat something more at the Hotel Sacher.

Beverages.

THE RIGHT BEVERAGE

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hat to drink with a delicious slice of Sachertorte? A good choice could be a fortified wine, sweet, fresh, with a very long taste and smell persistence. For example a Marsala, a Port or a Madeira.
The sweetness accompanies that of the cake.
The acidity balances the fat in the dark chocolate.
The taste and smell persistence matches that of the Sacher.




The images bearing the logo ‘webfoodculture’ are copyrighted.

The following images are public domain:

img-01 (*) – Franz Joseph, 1910 (Wikipedia Link) {PD-US}
img-02 (*) – Graf Klemens von Metternich, Thomas Lawrence, 1830 (Wikipedia Link) {PD-US}
img-03 (*) – Franz Sacher, 1907 (Wikipedia Link) {PD-US}
img-04 (*) – Prince Klemens von Metternich, Thomas Lawrence 1815. (Wikipedia Link) {PD-US}

The header image is pubblic domain:

Image 01 (*) – Graf Klemens von Metternich, Thomas Lawrence, 1830 (Wikipedia Link) {PD-US}

(*) The copyright of this image has expired.
(**) Image released in public domain by its author.