GBBO Week 4 – chocolate week!

Always a fun and frustrating week on Bake Off. Without fail, it’s a warm weather week and people end up in horrendous states as their showstoppers melt all over the place. Can’t say I envy them at all!

I seem to be keeping a slight theme in that I’m repeating another Ghost of Bake Off past this week. Sachertorte. Or Sacher torte. Or possibly Sacher torta.

The recipe I’ve used is from the Sacher hotel, who will mail order you one if it all seems like too much of a palaver. There seems to be a bit of variance out there though, with people adding ground almonds, or ground walnuts, or even cream in the glaze. Where there is “one” way to do things, there will always be an argument about whose way is the true one.

First up is icing sugar and soft butter, beaten for quite a while, then a vanilla pod worth of goo is added.

Six eggs separated. My big advice for any recipe involving separating eggs is to use three bowls: your mixing bowl, a separate bowl for the yolks, and a working bowl for the whites. Use the working bowl to catch the white from your cracked egg, plop the yolk into the other bowl, bin the shell and then transplant the white into your mixing bowl. That way if you crack into an egg that’s bad, or that the yolk membrane has split in, or a sneaky fertilised one – which is inevitably the last egg you break – then you’re not stuck with a bowl of ruined egg.

Also, free range eggs from the supermarket, versus free range eggs from the milkman. Quite a difference in the chicken feed if nothing else!

Yolks into the butter mixture one at a time, then in with melted chocolate.

Whites get beaten with caster sugar until stiff.

Then are added to the chocolate mix, and flour is sifted on and folded in.

Goo!

Level out in pre-prepared springform, and into the oven, which needs to be wedged “a finger or two” open for the first 15 minutes of cooking.

An hour later we have cake! It’s got decent height, but sloped away from the tin a little more than I’d like. My one and only springform is a little bigger than the recipe calls for as well, so it doesn’t quite have the height I was aiming for (though as I use a springform a handful of times a year, I’m not going to run out and buy a variety of sizes). Smells good though!

A little flipping between cooling racks – the recipe is very particular about that – and we’re cooling nicely.

Once completely cold, cut in half, making two layers. Again, not as even as I’d like, but glaze will hid a multitude of sins.

Apricot jam in the middle, on top and over the sides. I sprang for the Bonne Maman brand, as it’s really reliable for use in these sort of situations. Not too squishy, but not too solid either.

Glaze is made from boiling sugar and water into a simple syrup, leaving to cool slightly, then adding chocolate.

Full disclosure, this is my second round. Apparently I have an entirely different opinion of what counts as “slightly cool” to the good pastry chefs at Hotel Sacher. Oops.

Even on a very careful second round, I’m not overly happy with the results. I tested very gingerly with a small piece of chocolate and it melted fine, but by the time I was getting the last of it in, things were getting distinctly grainy. I didn’t have any more chocolate for another round, so ’tis what ’tis.

Having had the cake pull away from the too-large tin slightly means instead of a high square-ish cake I’ve got more of a dome going on. Another oops. The glaze went on quite well, but as soon as I moved the cake from the rack to a plate with a cake lifter, it started to wrinkle and crack. Oops again.

A quick sampling pronounced it “quite tasty” despite appearances, which I’m pleased with. Sacher tortes are generally left for at least a day before cutting, and served with unsweetened whipped cream which we also didn’t have handy due to our impatience, so I’m pretty happy with my “quite tasty”.

Of course, as I was eating it I realised that I have a set of Wilton tin strips that I absolutely should have used, and that would have had a big impact on the doming effect. Bah. They’re new and I keep forgetting that I have them and should use them. Next time!

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