To Vienna, with Love

Before I took my publishing job, one that held its winter sales meeting in the first week or two of January, my husband and I often traveled to Europe around New Year’s. Most recently, we spent New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam and traveled to Vienna after that. It was then that Vienna was cemented as one of my favorite world cities, and there was a part of me that hoped, now that I no longer have a sales meeting, that we would spend New Year’s there this year. My husband’s work schedule combined with a deep freeze in Europe has prevented the trip for now, but I thought that I would do an ode to Vienna in my kitchen through the traditional Sachertorte.

Some background on Sachertorte and my childhood love of Vienna can be found in this post about our trip there. It’s an oldie, so please ignore the crazy photo sizes. What was I thinking?!

I am trying to take this week completely off of job hunting and the stress that comes with it, so I decided to spend yesterday cooking. In addition to the Sachertorte, I also made the fluffiest wheat rolls ever and some BBQ pulled chicken for sandwiches. Posts to come soon.

The Sachertorte was by far the most complicated baking venture I have ever undertaken alone, and while it turned out absolutely delicious, it is also a complete and utter mess. The recipe, which is that of Wolfgang Puck, is at the end of the post, and you can also find it by clicking here. I should introduce the photo of my Sachertorte with an apology to Wolfgang and all Austrians. . .

chocolate chips

The whole process started out smoothly enough as I got started making this dense, chocolate-rich torte. I had all of the ingredients in the below list except for those to make the filling. Instead of apricot preserves and brandy, I used raspberry preserves and Bonny Doon Pommeau apple brandy, a combination that was a leap but ended up being a delicious one.

egg yolks

I followed all of the instructions; I even got my egg whites into perfect, stiff peaks.

egg whites

melted chocolate

I guess my first mistake was using the wrong size and shape cake pan. Traditional Sachertorte is round, and I used a square, due to my limited baking supplies. For some reason, my cake didn’t quite fill the pan and ended up thin. Instead of slicing the cake into three equal layers, I sliced mine into two, one that looked like a layer of cake and one that crumbled into about 20 pieces. Sad smile

Despite my horror, I soldiered on and spread the raspberry filling on the first layer, then piece by piece added the top layer. The end result resembled a crumb cake more than a Sachertorte. I thought I could cover it up with the final touch, a chocolate glaze, but it was just way too bumpy. Alas, my Sachertorte is an eyesore, but an eyesore that is rich, decadent, chocolate-y and incredibly delicious, just like the real thing.


I am bookmarking this recipe and buying a circular cake pan or two. I will make a Sachertorte to rival that of the Hotel Sacher or at least one that actually looks like it should!

What is your most recent kitchen disappointment?


  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 3 ounces butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 ounce sugar, plus 3 ounces
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup flour, sifted
Apricot Filling:
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 1 ounce butter
  • 2 ounces heavy cream
  • Schlagobers, or whipped cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 2-inch cake pan.

In a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and melt over a double boiler. Set aside to cool. In a mixer, using a wire whisk, whip the egg yolks with 1 ounce sugar until light and ribbony. Beat in the chocolate mixture.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 3 ounces of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks. Fold in the flour and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites, gently but thoroughly. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 40 minutes or until done. To check for doneness, insert a paring knife in center of cake. It should come out dry. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

To make the apricot filling: puree the apricot preserves. Stir in brandy.

Slice the cake into 3 equal layers. Spread half of the apricot filling on the bottom layer. Top with a second layer of cake. Spread the remaining apricot filling and top with the last layer of cake. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the glaze: in a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Melt over a double-boiler. Bring the cream to a boil. Stir into the melted chocolate. Cool until it reaches glazing consistency. Spread over and around the cake. Chill for another 30 minutes before serving. Serve a slice with Schlagobers or whipped cream.

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Tags: baking, chocolate, cooking, dessert, Food, home, recipe, Sachertorte, Vienna

  1. Michelle’s avatar

    This still looks absolutely lovely to me! I’m impressed by your baking endeavors as I’m still slowly trying to work up the nerve to bake more than bread!


  2. torviewtoronto’s avatar

    fabulous pictures happy holidays


  3. Elizabeth’s avatar

    It doesn’t look like an eyesore to me. I kind of like messy free-form desserts. Last May for my boyfriend’s birthday, I managed to mess up possibly the simplest dessert ever. I made him a simple white layer cake with a chocolate buttercream. I followed a recipe but for the center did not cook at all. I ended up scooping out the middle and filling the space with more buttercream. Definitely not my finest baking moment.


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      Thanks! :) I think I will stay away from layer cakes for awhile. . .


    2. Georgie’s avatar

      I attempted to make a chocolate meringue mousse cake and mistakenly purchased 1/2 & 1/2 instead of heavy cream, needless to say 1/2 & 1/2 does not cream up as well and attempting to make your own on the fly won’t work either. The mousse & meringue tasted great – the cake that required the heavy cream did not look or taste so good. I’m certainly more careful with purchasing my ingredients!


    3. Kate @’s avatar

      I hate when that happens – but it doesn’t look like it went wrong – it actually sounds really tasty!

      By the way, I also love the city of Vienna. I especially enjoyed sitting at the square of Stephansplatz, at a cafe, and watching random people waltzing along the strip. :)


    4. Vicki @ WITK’s avatar

      I always cook things in the wrong pan and wonder why they baked too fast/slow, were too think/thin. I’m no good at following directions! I made some raspberry brownies a while back, they were too sweet, I blame the cheapo jam that I used.


    5. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

      I know you think your Sachertorte is a disappointment but I am still impressed – what matters is that it was delicious! I love reading this post and your old post; sachertorte also holds a dear place in my heart because my parents used to take me to a hotel in the Philippines that had the best sachertorte and it was one of my favorite cakes when I was younger. I’d love to go to Vienna someday too, and eat the real thing there!


    6. Megan’s avatar

      I’m so glad you tried it with raspberry preserves and that worked because I keep thinking when I finally give this a try that I’d rather have raspberry than apricot.

      Friendly baker tips… at least make sure your pan is close in volume even if it’s a different shape. Using a measuring cup, fill the pan with water to see what volume it holds.

      Make sure the cake is completely cool before attempting to cut it… and use a serrated knife with fine teeth if possible… or a cake wire… or even dental floss (unflavored).

      All that said… who cares if it crumbles? You saved it! It’s cake and it’s meant to be eaten! It looks amazing… especially that chocolate glaze.


      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        Aha! A serrated knife. I thought that would make it too jagged. It probably wasn’t completely cool either, I am sort of impatient. I am getting the right pan and trying again! It is absolutely delicious and even better the next day.


      2. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

        It still looks drool worthy to me. I’d eat it!


      3. Runeatrepeat’s avatar

        It’s too pretty for me to believe it wasn’t amazing. Looks so good!


      4. Felice’s avatar

        How can you be disappointed with a pool of chocolate sauce? It looks delicious to me. It is funny our something you feel didn’t work out can be the most delicious dessert ever. Unfortunately this was not the case for me recently. I made a cinnamon pudding cake that turned out heavy on the cake and very light on the pudding and sauce. It still tasted OK, but without that golden puddle of sauce it was lacking.


      5. Dina Avila’s avatar

        Sometimes the most delicious things come in ugly packages :)


      6. Justin Ide’s avatar

        Great photos … new pan next time and you’ll be golden!



      7. Dionne Baldwin’s avatar

        Awww! It may look like an eyesore to some (we are our worst critics) but to me it looks like hard work that you finished despite the catastrophe. It looks amazing to me I would love it! Make it next time and mail it to me if you’re sick of it by then! My address is…


      8. Jolene (’s avatar

        My first batch of shortbread kind of melted in the oven, and looked like a big pool of grease on the pan!! I don’t think I chilled the dough long enough.

        I love that whisk – I am assuming you got that in your swag bag in San Fransisco!!!


      9. Alison’s avatar

        I was only in Vienna for 24 hours, but I loved it. Such wonderful architecture all around. I’m so sorry that the Sachertorte didn’t work out this time, but I’m sure you’ll perfect it in no time!


      10. Grace’s avatar

        That is a lot of chocolate, so it can’t be a flop! It looks delicious and with a dollop of whipped cream, a perfect holiday dessert.


      11. alicia’s avatar

        It’s artisan!
        It may not look like the picture, but rich chocolate cake with glaze always looks delicious. It can’t help it!

        my most recent kitchen disappointment? I just burnt my bagel. Literally – right now.


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