Viennese chocolate cake

Peter Flynn

Sacher Café 🔗

Sacher is the name of one of the most famous hotels in Vienna, which is where I had this cake first. It was 1973 and I’d been on a student demo over some vitally significant political point which I now forget :-) and one of our marching companions was an apprentice chef from the kitchens at the hotel. He suggested Kaffee und Kuchen before our Bier, and I came away with a recipe…which I now know isn’t original (he would have been fired), but tastes just as good.

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Makes 1. Serves 8. Heat your (fan) oven to 180°C. Prep time: 1 hour. Cooking time: 45 minutes.

Although it is very rich, the eggwhites keep the mixture light, so that we can weigh it down again with the extra load of icing. Eat with Wiener Mélange, the coffee flavoured with figs that the Viennese are [in]famous for. This makes one 8" cake.



  • 180 g caster sugar
  • 180 g unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs | separated, whites beaten until stiff
  • 180 g strong dark chocolate [at least 70% cocoa]
  • 125 g plain flour
  • 50 g ground almonds


  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 180 g strong dark chocolate [more of the same strong dark chocolate (that’s 12oz so far, so you’d better buy a whole pound of the stuff so you have some to nibble at as well)]
  • 125 ml thick double cream
  • 3 capfuls brandy
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar [optional] [for decoration]
  • 1 tbsp cocoa [optional] [for decoration]



  1. Beat the butter and caster sugar together hard until they go pale and fluffy. This takes serious elbow-grease, so use a mixer if you have one. Don’t be tempted to use a blender, as the blades will wreck the mixture.

  2. Add the yolks one at a time, beating in well.

  3. Melt the chocolate and let it cool a bit (without solidifying again) then stir it into the butter/sugar/egg mix very gently.

  4. Add the flour and almonds, stir well but still gently.

  5. Finally, fold in the beaten whites, taking care not to collapse the bubbles.

  6. Pour into a deep 8″ non-stick cake tin (or an old one lined with buttered and floured greasproof paper) - these cakes with high egg content stick like glue to the sides of baking tins.

  7. Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes. Test by sliding a sharp thin knife blade into it at an angle: if it comes out clean then it’s done. If there are sticky traces on the blade then give it another 15 minutes.

  8. Leave it cool for 2 minutes, then tip out onto a cake rack and let it go cold.


  1. Spread the apricot jam thinly over the top and sides. Make sure it is not runny but thick and sticky, to give a key for the icing to adhere to.

  2. Heat the cream over a gentle flame, and add the brandy little by little so as not to make the cream separate.

  3. Break up the chocolate and add to the cream in bits, stirring regularly to help it melt. The mixture will thicken, keep stirring until it ceases to be runny.

  4. Put the cake on a revolving stand and pour the icing over it while you turn the cake, so that you get a very thick even coating over the top and sides.

  5. If you’ve got a blowbag for cocoa or icing sugar, decorate it...

Now you can put your feet up and read the paper with the morning coffee…

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