You can make this classic rich, chocolate cake from Vienna’s Hotel Sacher easily at home. There are many different versions of the actual cake, but the crisp dark glossy icing with its sharp apricot layer underneath is always left relatively unadorned. I just decorate with chocolate leaves or you can add the name ‘Sacher’ drizzled in chocolate on top from a piping bag. After icing the cake can be stored for a day or two.
Preheat the oven to 160°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 23cm (9in) springform tin.
Melt 150g (5oz) plain chocolate and cool. Cream 125g (4oz) softened butter with 125g (4oz) caster sugar, then beat in the chocolate and 4 egg yolks. Fold in 75g (3oz) self-raising flour, sifted with 2tablespoonscocoa powder, stirring in a figure-of-eight motion.
Add 1tablespoonrum, 1teaspoonalmond essence and 1tablespoonwater. Whisk 4 egg whites until stiff, then carefully fold into the chocolate mixture. Turn into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and peel off the paper. Place the cake base-side down on a wire rack to cool completely. When the cake is cool, melt and sieve 3tablespoons apricot jam and brush on the top and sides of the cake with a clean pastry brush.
Meanwhile, dissolve 75g (3oz) sugar in 5tablespoons boiling water, then break in 125g (4oz) plain chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Boil for 1—2 minutes, then stir again and carefully pour over the cake top and sides, spreading with a palette knife. Allow the chocolate icing to cool and set. Make chocolate leaves and arrange them decoratively on top.