Thursday, September 9, 2010

War Of The Sachertortes

The sachertorte is Vienna's most famous cake, no small feat since Vienna is known as Europe's cakes and pastry capital. I've read and heard so much about the original sachertorte served in Hotel Sacher and the other original served in Demel and the competition between them that I decided to break from the tour group and seek out the two places instead.

The sachertorte was created by a 16-year old kitchen helper called Franz Sacher who had to  come up with a dessert fit for a prince when the prince's chef fell ill. Franz's son Eduard, who trained as a pastry chef, later developed the cake further and served it at the Demel bakery and then at Hotel Sacher. Subsequently, both Demel and Hotel Sacher fought a 9-year legal battle to have the right to use the words "The Original Sacher Torte" until an out-of-court settlement was reached whereby Hotel Sacher had the right to use the label "The Original Sachertorte" while Demel had the right to label its cake "Eduard Sachertorte". To most people oblivious to the fact that it was in Demel that Eduard had developed and perfected his father's cake, and Eduard later became the owner of Demel, the Hotel Sacher's sachertorte is the real thing while those who know the facts swear that  Demel 's sachertorte is the original. I didn't care which was original. My mission was  to find out which was the better sachertorte.

My first stop was Hotel Sacher. The hotel has other cafes such as Mozart's Cafe, so don't go into the wrong cafe. Hotel Sacher's Sacher Cafe is small and cosy and there was a queue when I was there.




Cafe Sacher's famous sachertorte, 4.90 euros per piece.'Wien' btw is Vienna so I suppose nobody will laugh if you say "Wienna".

I just discovered that my photo here is very similar to the one in Wiki. Apparently,  a frequent customer of both Demel and Cafe Sacher observed that the original sachertorte served when Eduard's wife was alive was never a 2-layered cake sandwiched with marmalade. Now that's something I just learnt when writing this post. I looked at both cakes in my photos and it's true. The sachertorte in Cafe Sacher had two layers sanwiched together while the one from Demel was not layered.

The chocolate icing on the cake was very good and rich but the cake was grainy in texture, dry yet soaked in a sweet syrup or maybe it was really marmalade. I don't know if you know what I mean by a cake texture that's dry yet soaked in syrup but that's how it tasted to me. When you press your tongue on the cake in your mouth, you can feel the liquid from the cake, just slightly but the cake is not moist or soft or silky. I was disappointed. Hmm. I knew I had to try the Demel sachertorte or I wouldn't leave Vienna peacefully.

The apple strudel was very good, way better than the sachertorte.


The chairs have an 'S' in their backs. Most of the customers were tourists, eager to have their cake and photos taken.


Copy of Raw02585

Although the sachertorte at Cafe Sacher was not as tasty as I had expected, the staff was very friendly and the coffee was good. I did enjoy the hour we spent in the cafe that rainy afternoon. Right after Cafe Sacher, we walked to Demel, 15 minutes away.

Demel, very nice in black and white, was opened in 1786--224 years ago!

Demel is both a bakery and a chocolatier.  In terms of exposure to tourists, Demel was at a disadvantage because there's no place to sit except for a small bar. I'm not sure if there's a cafe further inside.

My Documents20




While Cafe Sacher declares everywhere--on the cakes, in the menus, in pamphlets--that their sachertorte is the original, Demel seems to have gone past that need to declare such a fact, probably because when you are the real thing you have the confidence and you don't have to shout it out.


I doggie-bagged a selection of Demel's cakes to Hub's cousin's and nobody there liked cakes so I had plenty to taste. In my honest opinion, Demel's sachertorte tasted better than Cafe Sacher's although both the cakes are quite similar. Maybe Demel's sachertorte tasted better because I was disappointed with Cafe Sacher's. Frankly, these sachertortes are over-rated. My suspicion is that 175 years ago when the cake was created, there weren't that many good cakes around. Ingredients too were probably not as easily available or of the quality we have today. Don't shoot me, but most other chocolate cakes taste better than THE original sachertortes I ate in Vienna.


zurin said...

I believe you. when u said dry and grainy soaked in syrup that was it for me. I do dislike cakes soaked in syrup. when I see a recipe for a cake soaked in syrup I flip the page. Why on earth wld you want to soak a cake in syrup umnless its dry. why bake a dry cake? m flabbergasted. heheh

malaymui said...

i also visited a few 'famous' or 'must try' cafes that famous with cake at Budapest. They are so over rated. i either didn't order the right one or their rating is based on ancient standard...

Greg Wee said...

i have always wanted to try making this cake but the thought of pouring apricot jam/marmalade/syrup is just so i believe you completely that you did not shout about it.

thanks for blogging the experience.

Greg Wee said...

Oh, that was Nee. Not Greg. It's impossible for Greg to be making comments like these.

terri@adailyobsession said...

zurin: i suspect the old recipe didn't make a very tasty cake so they improved it by adding syrup. this is one good job by the marketing dept...

malaymui: i think it's the rating. it surprises me sometimes how some people have such low standards or forgiving tastebuds. esp when it comes to food made with loads of additives n cheap substitutes such as margarine for butter and farm chicken for free range etc.

gregwee: i know it can't be greg bc greg very masculine n cool one.

Lianne said...

We just got back from Salzburg today and nearly tried the famous Sacher Torte in Hotel Sacher, but the price (around 10 euro a piece) put us off! We came back with Reber´s version instead (manufacturer of Mozart chocolate range). If I am not mistaken, the original uses marmalade and apricot/peach like liquor - cannot remember it now but we came back with a bottle. said...

Love your post. I used to live in Borneo in the late 80s. Still miss the jungle sometimes ….

I was one of those guys producing the Sacher Torte at Demel's in Vienna a LONG time ago. Now I make it mostly at home and for friends. It can be the "best you ever had" by following a couple of simple steps.

Anonymous said...

Just had the Demel version today and agree it's not close to the best chocolate cake I've had. If you're a history buff then fine, but if you appreciate good food then skip it.

Prabhuraj Manvi said...

The chairs are designed in such a way keeping the comfort of those who enjoy sitting and enjoy a meal and also sturdy and long lasting. cafeteria chairs manufacturers provide constant maintenance support for seamless services.

Crissy said...

Try eating it once again! First time I tried it, I thought it was okay, but now, I think it's the BEST!!!!!! Once you get the acquired taste for it, you'll know why it's the best cake and you'll never get sick of it. Also, please note that the way to eat his cake is with unsweetened whipped cream (what you whipped yourself - don't buy the instant ones) and with a warm tea. YUM YUM YUM!!! Btw, Hotel Sacher's Sachertorte is better than Demel. The best thing in Demel is Annatorte...which I think most Americans/tourists will instantly love!

P.S. I just got back from 2nd Vienna trip and I'm a foodie too! I actually went to Budapest as well because I wanted to have the original Dobos Torte (but this is a totally different story). :)

Crissy said...

By the way, Demel is much bigger inside and upstairs. You should explore the inside more :) It's quite pretty...very Baroque!

Also, I agree with Chef Thomas! I just read his comment.

Lady Jabs said...

This was actually on my "to do" list when visiting Vienna, but after hearing what the cake actually tastes like I think I'll pass and just have a strudel instead!
Thanks for this article! I'm also looking forward to buying Mozart balls :)

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