Sachertorte Cake History

Sachertorte Cake, also know as Sacher Cake and Eduard Sacher Torte is a famous classic Viennese cake.  Probably the most famous chocolate cake of all-time.  It consists of chocolate sponge cake cut into three layers, between which apricot jam are thickly spread between the layers and on the top and sides of the cake.  The whole Sachertorte Cake is then iced with a velvet-like chocolate and served with a side dish of whipped cream.


Sachertorte Cake

 Photo from Hotel Sacher in Vienna


Sachertorte Cake History:


1832 – The Sachertorte was created by pastry chef Franz Sacher (1816-1907) in 1832 for Prince Clemens Lothar Wensel Metternich (1773-1859) of Austria, the Austrian State Chancellor.

The prince enjoyed trying new dishes and ordered the chef to create a new cake.  Orders were sent to the kitchens where it was instant pandemonium.  The head chef was sick and the team of cooks in the kitchen had no idea what to prepare.  Franz Sacher, a 16-year old apprentice cook, rolled up his sleeves and created this famous chocolate cake with the ingredients that were available.  The Sacher Torte and other recipes made him prosperous, and he operated several cafes and restaurants.


1876 – In 1876, Franz’s son, Eduard Sacher, opened a grand hotel called the Hotel Sacher, but it was Eduard’s dynamic, cigar-smoking wife, Anna, who turned it into one of Europe’s greatest hostelries where the aristocracy and diplomats would meet.  After Eduard’s death his widow, Anna Sacher, became manager.  Under her rule, the hotel became one of the finest hotels in the world, where the aristocracy and diplomats would meet, and by the time of her death in 1930 it was a national institution.


1965 – For some unknown reason (date unknown), Franz Sacher Jr., a son of Eduard and his wife Anna, later sold his original recipe to Demel’s, a fancy coffee cafon the Kohlmarkt, allowing them to produce a rival torte.  Both the Hotel Sacher and the Demel Patisserie claimed to produce the “original” Sachertorte.  These two world-famous institutions engaged in a lawsuit which lasted for years.  The judgement in 1965 went in favor of Sacher, giving them the right to the “Original Sacher Torte” while Dehmel had to be satisfied with the “Original Eduard Sacher Torte”.  The main difference between the two recipes is that in Sacher’s case, the layer of jam is between two layers of the chocolate sponge, while in Demel’s version the jam is on top of the sponge but under the chocolate covering.


Following is from the book The Oxford Companion To Food, by Alan Davidson. In the book it refers to another book called Festive Baking in Austria, German and Switzerland by Sarah Kelly:

“When Demel’s, Vienna’s most famous pastry shop, and the Sacher Hotel, owned by a branch of the same Sacher family, contested who had the right to call their product the ‘genuine’ Sachertorte. Demul’s case was based on the fact that the shop had bought the right to produce the ‘genuine’ Sachertorte, stamped with an official seal of bittersweet chocolate, from Edouard Sacher, the grandson of the creator . . . . The Hotel Sacher based their case on the family connection with the cake’s creator. The most discernible difference between the versions from the two establishments was in the placing of the apricot jam . . . . Seven years later, the courts decided in favour of the Hotel Sacher. Demel’s, however . . . . announced that they would simple market their Torte as the ‘Ur-Sachertorte’, the very first version.”


Today, every coffee house in Vienna has its own Sachertorte, no two quite alike, but all excellent.




Austrian    Baking    Cakes History    Chocolate Cakes    Chocolate Recipes    Dessert Recipes    Food History    Historical Cakes   

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