Monday, August 31, 2009

Apricot Sacher Cake

My new thing is to bake something for friends and family when their birthday comes around. What to buy them? They can just buy it themselves! Sometimes it easy to pick up a gift for someone, but when I struggle I know something home baked is the plan! My father's birthday was back in June and I was busy with college getting ready to graduate. I promised him in his card I'd bake him a cake. I finally buckled down and made his cake. I knew what I'd be making him, just had to have time. I bought this small chocolate cookbook at Border's one day, it was $2.99! Looks like they have it on Amazon and you can check it out by clicking this link here. I skimmed through it and liked the step by step pictures and the interesting recipes. I selected several I'd like to make but the Apricot Sacher Cake was going to be my dad's birthday cake. Very simple on the ingredients list as you will see in a moment. My father is European and loves apricot. Add chocolate and it makes it even better! Apricot is not a very popular flavor when it comes to baking in the US as I have seen. I know it one of my dads all time favorite. He eats apricot preserves and bread all the time. Before making the cake I just Google Sacher cake to see what I'd come up with. Well I didn't realize it had a whole history behind it! It all originated in Vienna back in 1832. Check out this website to read up more on the history, the hotel, and their beautiful Sacher Tort they sell. So after looking at their cake it looks amazing. I'm such a lucky person and the day I decided I had to make 2 cakes, both cakes had PROBLEMS!

Here are the problems I had with the Sacher Cake:
1. The recipe tells me to mix in the warm apricot, butter and sugar mixture into the flour/cocoa mixture. It became a hard big clump! I wasn't sure if I was suppose to add it all to the cake or what? The directions weren't very clear. I added it all. hehe
2. Well the eggs had to be separated and I added the yolks to the hard big clump and it was still pretty stiff. I was thinking how in the world will I incorporate the fluffy eye whites? Well I got the egg whites into the batter but it wasn't pretty.
3. The cake is 3 layers and I wanted to go for the 3 because I think it looks pretty. Although 2 layers would of probably made my life a lot easier! The recipe tells you to flip the cake upside down on a cutting board and cut from that way. Which I did and then I realized that my top part that is pretty rounded ended up on the top! It should of been the bottom layer. Man I was pissed but it was already too late. I had layered and filled the cake as I was cutting.

4. Again, the recipe states to layer the top piece with apricot. I thought this was weird but I went with it. Well BIG mistake. I put the cake in the fridge to firm up and this is when I was melting the chocolate ganache with heavy cream and dark chocolate. As I poured the ganache on top the filling started to separate and melt. It looked oily and I couldn't understand. At first I was blaming the heavy cream for making the oil because it was lumpy and sliding off the cake! I then tasted it and realized it was the apricot spread. Unbelievable. I just put the cake in the fridge again to set up.

Apricot spread on top layer. Nice even slices, yeah right!!  
That small piece missing fell off, I ate it. :)
  Lumpy, bumpy :(
I was so upset. I didn't want to throw it away because I was already in the kitchen for several hours and I promised my dad the cake. I always follow a recipe the way it tells me to. The next time I make the cake is when I'll make adjustments to the recipe because I didn't like how something turned out the first time. Well I think I need to stop following recipes because they always make me run into problems! I did get to taste the cake and it tasted amazing. The chocolate cake was intense and blended well with the apricot flavor. The ganache that I had doubts about left a nice thick layer on the top and it was delicious! I didn't do any fancy chocolate shavings but I did dust it with cocoa powder and confectioner sugar. My dad enjoyed the cake, just as much as my mom did! He said it was amazing and wants to show me how to make the cakes look nicer. That is what I seem to be struggling in right now. Great tasting cake, but not pretty looking. :(

The garnish shows all the lovely cracks on top of the cake. Grr!
  My slice! Doesn't look too bad from this angle. 
It really did taste delicious. Thank goodness.
  This shows the nice thick ganache layer on top, 
but you can also see the cracks in the cake. 
Apricot Sacher Cake (From Crazy for Chocolate) 
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total cooking time: 50 minutes
Makes one 20 cm (8 inch) round cake  

Ingredients ( I used g and ml where stated):
1 cup (125g/4 oz) plain flour ( I used unbleached, all purpose)
1/2 cup (60g/2oz) cocoa powder (I used Hershey's unsweetened cocoa)
1/4 cup (80g/2 2/3oz) apricot jam (I used a special jam from the European Market. It was smooth with a slight amount of apricot pieces)
1 cup (250g/8oz) caster sugar
125g (4oz) butter (unsalted)
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (160g/5 1/4oz) apricot jam, extra, heated  

Ganache Topping:
125 g (4oz) dark cooking chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) thick cream

Preheat oven to moderate 180 degree C (350 degree F/Gas 4). Brush a deep 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin with melted butter or oil. Line base and sides with baking paper.
  1. Sift flour and cocoa into bowl. Make a well in the center. Combine jam, sugar and butter in a small pan; stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth (I wish they gave me a time for this and they didn't. 20 minutes and it still didn't look smooth, sigh.). Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir the butter mixture into flour until combined. Add egg yolks, mix well.
  2. Place egg whites in small clean bowl. Using electric beaters, beat until soft peaks form. Using a metal spoon, fold whites into cake mixture (haha yeah right). Pour into prepared tin. Bake 50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center. Leave cake in tin 15 minutes; turn onto wire rack to cool.
  3. To assemble cake: Place cake upside-down on board. Cut cake horizontally into 3 even layers. Brush each layer with one-fifth of the jam; re-assemble cake and transfer to wire rack. Brush cake with remaining jam.
  4. To make ganache topping: Combine chocolate and cream in small pan. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool until ganache has thickened slightly. Pour ganache topping completely over the cake. Smooth top and sides with a palette knife. Allow to set before transferring to serving plate. Decorate cake with large shavings of chocolate and dust with icing sugar and cocoa, if desired.
Lesson's learned:
1. Never mix anything by HAND again.
2. Don't follow a recipe unless there is a better process known then what is described.
3. Don't rush anything, make sure to have enough time when making a big dessert.
4. Be careful when buying a $2.99 cookbook. Directions may not be clear enough to follow through on a recipe. I found several Sacher Tort recipes from Google and they are all very different. Has anyone ever made it before? Any tips to share? It is an easy and great cake to make, it would be lovely to bring over to a friends or family home during the holidays. Don't let my post discourage you. I'm just not ashamed to show my mistakes because next time it will just come out better. That what I love about baking, you keep learning each time! Cake disaster number 2 is next!



Katrina said...

This is why I don't make cake very often. Well, for one, my husband really doesn't like cake and especially frosting (the weirdo!) and for another, this kind of troubles really frustrates me. I'll stick with cookies and such! ;)

Fallon said...

haha I know but I need to get better at it! Practice makes perfect. :)

I'm always a picky cake eater, just depends what it is!