Vienna’s squares, avenues and tiny streets, lined with luxurious restaurants and humble coffee houses, are the Eden for sweet lovers. The tempting flavours of cinnamon, chocolate, freshly brewed Viennese coffee spread from the terraces and opened doors. It is easy to get lost in this variety of tastes, however, there is a dessert, requiring special attention: Sachertorte. The classic Sachertorte is a chocolate cake, with one or two layers of apricot jam, covered with chocolate glazing. Butter, flour, eggs, sugar, apricot jam and chocolate are the basic ingredients for the Austrian cake.
Etymological notes and history of creation
The first known use of the word “Sachertorte” dates back to 1906. “Sachertorte” is a compound of “Sacher”, the name of the dessert’s creator, and German “Torte” (translated as “cake”). Behind quite trivial etymology stands extraordinary history. In 1832, Prince Metternich ordered the court pastry chef to create a special dessert, as he planned to indulge his guests not only with diplomatic negotiations but also with culinary highlights. The court pastry chef was ill on that day, and an apprentice cook, the 16-year-old Franz Sacher, had to satisfy the refined taste of the prince by creating a high-standard dessert. Fortunately, young Franz seemed to be a culinary mastermind, as he did not miss the opportunity to reveal his talent and created a masterpiece called Sachertorte.
12 years later, Franz opened a delicatessen shop and a wine shop in Vienna. His son Eduard Sacher fine-tuned the recipe that we know today when working for the bakery Demel. After he left the bakery, he opened a luxurious hotel “Sacher” in the heart of Vienna, so the cake became a trademark, proudly sharing the family name of Sacher.
By 1934, the hotel had gone bankrupt, and Eduard’s inheritor had sold the original recipe of Sachertorte to the renowned bakery Demel. Meanwhile, the new owners of the hotel did not stop selling the cake, and the hot dispute between the bakery and the hotel about the genuine trademark “Original Sachertorte” lasted until 1963. Finally, the hotel was granted legal rights to the chocolate stamp “Original Sachertorte” whereas at the bakery Demel one could buy a cake with the triangular stamp “Eduard Sachertorte” (currently changed into “Demel’s Sachertorte”). The “Original Sachertorte” and “Demel’s Sachertorte” differ mainly in their layers of apricot jam. The first one has two layers of jam while the second has only one layer of jam.
It is your own decision, which version of the cake you prefer. What counts is the fact that the modern Sachertorte still tastes as delicious as the genuine Austrian masterpiece of Franz Sacher.
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Written by Olena Khomiakova, Schuman Communication Trainee Terminology Coordination Unit. Currently she is enrolled as a Master student in Learning and Communications in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg.