First of all, these quantities make a huge cake. The idea here is to use a square cake ring to build the cake up, then leave it to set and cut it into slices. If you, like me, do not own such magical item, you can use a square loose-bottomed cake tin (which you’ll need to make the sponges anyway). Just make sure you cover the sides with clingfilm as it will make easier to remove the cake once set.
This a slightly boozier version of the traditional Sachertorte, with both the ganache and the sponge layers containing orange liqueur – needless to say, I used Cointreau. Also, you can leave it out and use orange juice or essence instead. This could be the perfect way of serving it up for any special occasions, as you can choose how big to make the slices and it moves a cake from being, well, a cake to being finger food. Genius!
Ingredients (for the sponge layers)
- 7 large eggs, separated
- 180g unsalted butter, softened
- 300g golden caster sugar
- 180g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 180g plain flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Ingredients (for the ganache)
- 300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 300ml double cream
- 2 tbsp Cointreau or orange essence/juice
Ingredients (for the soaking medium, assembling and decoration)
- 50g caster sugar
- 60ml water
- 2 tbsp Cointreau
- 250g apricot jam
- chocolate sprinkles, drops, curls
- Make the sponge layers first. Break up the dark chocolate, then tumble in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and slowly melt. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
- Line the bottom and butter the sides of a square loose-bottomed cake tin (mine is approximately 30x30cm), then pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Using a freestanding mixer (or by hand), cream the butter with 150g sugar, then add the vanilla extract. Slowly start adding the egg yolks, one by one, beating well after each addition. Once finished, slowly add the chocolate mixture too, beating well to obtain a glossy and dark chocolate mixture.
- In another bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks with the remaining sugar (30g) until you get a glossy meringue, then use a plastic spatula to incorporate to the chocolate mixture. Start with one third of the egg whites and use ample and slow movements to mix that into the chocolate mixture, then carefully add the rest being careful not to knock too much air out.
- Mix the flour and the salt, then sift over the mixture. Slowly mix that in too. Transfer the chocolate mixture into the prepared tin, level the surface and push the mixture into the sides. Bake for about 40 minutes.
- Once cooked, transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out of the cake tin and leave to cool completely.
- Now move on to the ganache. Finely grate or chop the dark chocolate, then set aside. In a small pan, bring the cream to the boil, then tumble in the chopped chocolate and leave to stand for about 5 minutes. Use a rubber spatula or a whisk to mix and smooth out any chocolate bits. Slowly pour in the liqueur, then cover with clingfilm and leave to cool and harden slightly.
- When the sponge layers have cooled down completely, you can start assembling the cake. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake into two even layers, then set those aside. In a small pan, melt the sugar with the water and boil for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the orange liqueur.
- Transfer one of the sponge slices to the prepared cake tin (see introduction) or a square cake ring, then use a pastry brush to brush the cake layers with the soaking medium. This will ensure your cake is very moist and full of flavour.
- Top with most of the apricot jam and spread it to create an even layer, then top with the other sponge layer and soak that with the sugar and liqueur syrup too. Brush the top of the cake with the remaining apricot jam, then leave to set for about half an hour.
- Pour the chocolate ganache on top of the cake and use a spatula to smooth it out and spread it right until the corners. Transfer the cake to the fridge for an hour to set. Once set, sprinkle the top of the cake with the chocolate sprinkles and/or curls and/or drops. Be as artistic as you like. return the cake to the fridge for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
- When ready, carefully and slowly remove the cake from the cake tin, then use a very sharp knife to cut even slices. You can choose whether to have square or rectangular slices. Serve at once.