Viennese Apricot Torte


Finished Photo of Viennese Apricot TorteMany years ago when I first became interested in pastry and baking, I found a book at the library introducing me to Viennese Tortes and pastries.  I was fascinated by them to the point I copied the entire book for my personal use.  This was ages before the internet and the book was no longer on the market.  A version of this Viennese Walnut and Chocolate Sponge Cake was in the book.

As with some early Viennese Tortes, bread crumbs or cracker crumbs finely ground would be used in place of flour.  Another rendering of this cake was in my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”.  It did use cracker crumbs.  However, for this version I wanted to use a sponge which would accept a brandy soaking syrup.  The original recipe for the cake in my book used only the cake and a coffee buttercream.  I expanded upon that idea for this cake.

The recipe for the Viennese Walnut and Chocolate sponge cake  is based on Bo Friberg’s Hazelnut-Chocolate Sponge in his book, “Professional Pastry Chef”.  This is one of my go to books if I am stumped by something.  The sheer volume of information in charts and graphs is astounding.  There have been several updates to the book.  I have Volume 4 which is over 1,000 pages. I love this recipe because it doesn’t require beating the egg yolks and whites separately.  It uses whole eggs that are warmed over a double boiler so they can reach maximum volume.  It is easy and as far as I can see, foolproof as long as  you fold the dry ingredients quickly and gently.

His recipe calls for 14 eggs and as I suspected when I made it, my 5 quart mixer could barely hold the whipped eggs.  They would fit in one of the newer 7 quart mixers. However, not wanting to purchase a new mixer for one recipe, I downsized it to fit the 5 quart.  I also wanted the layers to be shorter than his were.

Also, unusual in this sponge cake recipe is the use of bread flour and cake flour.  As Chef Friberg explains, the bread flour is strong enough to hold the voluminous amount of whipped eggs up.  Whereas there is not enough protein in the cake flour alone to accomplish this.    However cake flour is also used to tenderizes the layers.  His recipe uses all bread flour but I used part cake flour in mine.  In writing about this, he rather leaves the proportions up to the person making it as it can be altered depending upon what you are making.

At Christmas my mother made a cookie called Honey Diamonds.  It uses chocolate along with these spices.  It is one of my very most favorite combinations.

Although this recipe has  several component parts, the spongecake layers, the apricot filling, brandy soaking syrup and coffee buttercream can all be made ahead, making assembly very easy.  A word about dried apricots.  Sulfur is often used when drying apricots so they retain a pleasing color. But even with sulfur some become dark as seen in this photo of two sulfured apricots from different packages.Dried apricots for Viennese Apricot TorteThose without sulfur can become brown.  Contrary to the popular way of reconstituting the apricots, I don’t cover the pan when heating them so the sulfur can escape leaving a clean apricot flavor.

Removing the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake layers can have its difficulties since I don’t recommend spraying the entire parchment or the pan.  Also, the layers are fairly thin. However, it becomes a cinch if you just follow the directions here.

There is also a ganache I haven’t used in this blog before.  Way back in the day when cooking and baking were coming into their own, it was all the rage to make your own creme fraiche.  I would dutifully heat  40% or heavy cream to room temperature along with a bit of buttermilk or sour cream, then leave it at room temperature overnight. The next morning, if all went well I had creme fraiche.

I came up with the recipe below to avoid having to make creme fraiche.. I can never get this done ahead of time so I just combined everything together and it works beautifully. It can be used at once without any set up time so I just love it.

It is important to bake all of the layers at once as this is a delicate cake and especially you don’t want the nuts and chocolate to sink to the bottom of the layers.

French buttercream that finishes this Viennese Tote is distinguished by the use of egg yolks as well as whites. A sugar syrup is used and it is flavored with coffee in this version. The combination of egg yolks and egg whites will whip into a foam that does not need to be stabilized as do egg whites alone.

I am going to start giving  the weight of the batters so you will know how much to put in each pan should you want to use the layers thicker or thinner. I will also give you the height of the layers as I have called for them in the recipe I have made.  I do this with the intent of making it easier for you to use the cakes in creations of your own.

Viennese Spiced Walnut and Chocolate Sponge Cakeingredients for Viennese Apricot Torte3/4 cup bread flour (105 grams or 3 2/3 ounces)
1/4 cake flour (30 grams or 1 ounces)
4 ounces walnuts (114 grams)
2 ounces semi sweet chocolate (60 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cloves
9 eggs
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray the center only of four 9×2 inch pans with releasing spray. Line with parchment paper and spray the center only. Set aside.

Place the chocolate in the food processor and process until very finely cut.  Chocolate in processor for Viennese Apricot TorteChocolate processed for Viennese Apricot TortePlace the cake flour in the food processorCake flour in processor for Viennese Apricot Torte along with about half of the bread flour and nuts. Walnuts in processor for Viennese Apricot TorteProcess until the nuts are extremely finely chopped. Walnuts processed for Viennese Apricot TorteAdd the remaining flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. flour and spices in processor for Viennese Apricot TorteProcess to mix completely.

Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Eggs, sugar, vanilla in bowl for Viennese Apricot TorteHeat over simmering water to a temperature of about 110 degrees, whisking constantly.Whisk egg mixture over hot water for Viennese Apricot Torte Remove from the heat and place on the mixer.Warm eggs in bowl for Viennese Apricot Torte Beat until cool and very light about 10 minutes.Eggs beaten for Viennese Apricot Torte egg white volume 3

It will be thick and form ribbons when allowed to fall from the whisk. Ribboning eggs for Viennese Apricot TorteFold half of the flour mixture into the batter quickly. 1st half of nuts being folded in for Viennese Apricot TorteFolding in first half of nuts for Viennese Apricot TorteFold the remaining flour mixture into the batter.  2nd half of nuts in sponge for Viennese Apricot TorteDivide between the four prepared pans (230 grams or about 8 ounces each).Pouring sponge into pan for Viennese Apricot Torte

Smooth batter in pans.  Smoothing sponge for Viennese Apricot TorteSmoothing sponge for Viennese Apricot TorteBake all four layers at once.Layers in oven for Viennese Apricot TorteBake about 8 to 10 minutes until the layers spring back when lightly touched.Baked layers for Viennese Apricot Torte

Cool completely before releasing.

To remove the parchment without tearing the sponge, release the edge of the layers with a flexible spatula.  Releasing edge of layer for Viennese Apricot Torte 1Releasing edge of layer for Viennese Apricot Torte 2Turn upside down on a round. Layer upside down for Viennese Apricot TorteRemove the paper by pulling the parchment in front towards the center of the layer. Front parchment pulled to center of parchment for Viennese Apricot TorteLet the parchment fall back to the layer. parchment laid back down for Viennese Apricot TorteRepeat with the back of the parchment pulling it towards the center.  back parchment pulled to center for Viennese Apricot TorteThen pick up the paper and throw it away.  This will prevent the far edge from sticking to the paper and tearing off. Parchment being lifted off layer for Viennese Apricot TorteBaked layers for Viennese Apricot Torte

To Make Ahead:  Freeze the layers individually.  They may be stacked after frozen, wrapped well and frozen for several months.

Weight of batter – About 920 grams or 2 pounds

Height of 4 – 9″ layers – 3/4″ each

Apricot Rum FillingApricot Filling ingredients for Viennese Apricot Torte8 ounces dried apricots (225 grams)
1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons powdered sugar (30 grams or 1 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounce)
1 tablespoon dark rum

Combine the apricots and water in a small saucepan. Apricots and water for Viennese Apricot TorteBring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the water is absorbed by the apricots.Liquid gone in Apricots for Viennese Apricot Torte

Place the apricots in the processor while they  are hot and process until smooth.Apricots in processor for Viennese Apricot TorteApricots processed for Viennese Apricot Torte

Add the butter Butter with apricots for Viennese Apricot Tortethen add the powdered sugar and rum, processing until smooth.  Powdered sugar and rum for Apricot fillingFinished apricot filling for Viennese Apricot Torte

Chocolate Sour Cream GanacheChocolate Ganache ingredients for Viennese Apricot Torte4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup sour cream (2 ounces or 58 grams)
1/4 cup 40% or heavy cream

Melt the chocolate over simmering water or in a microwave at half power.Chocolate Melted for Ganache Remove it from heat and add the sour creamSour Cream for Chocolate Ganache and 40%,Cream in Chocolate Ganache whisking to combine completely.Whisking ganache 1Whisking chocolate ganache 2

This may be made a week ahead and refrigerated.

Brandy Soaking SyrupBrandy ingredients2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (65 grams or 2 ounces)
1/3 cup brandy

Bring the water and sugar to a boil.  Remove from the heat and the brandy.  Cool.Brandy in pan

This may be made a week ahead and refrigerated.

Coffee Flavored French Buttercream  (click to see how to photographs)
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened but not runny (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the eggs and yolk in the bowl of a 5 quart mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high until very light, very pale in color and foamy. Continue beating until the syrup is ready.

This small amount of syrup comes to temperature very quickly after it reaches 220 degrees so watch it so it does not go over 242 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Place the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and cream of tarter. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil. Wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water to prevent crystallization. Boil to 242 degrees.

Pour the syrup in slowly trying to stay between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Do not pour in too quickly or it will sink to the bottom of the bowl where it cannot be incorporated. Beat until completely cool.

When the base is cooled, add the butter a tablespoon or two at a time. Beat until incorporated. Do not add additional butter until the previous amount is completely mixed in. When all of the butter is incorporated, mix the vanilla with the coffee, add to the buttercream and continue beating to achieve a light texture.

Yields: 2 1/4 cups, 400 grams or 14 grams.

To Make Ahead:  The buttercream can be frozen and reconstituted

To Assemble the Viennese Apricot TorteIngredients to assemble the Viennese Apricot Torte4 layers Viennese Spiced Walnut and Chocolate Sponge Cake
Brandy Soaking Syrup
Apricot Filling
Chocolate Sour Cream Ganache
Coffee Flavored French Buttercream

Place one layer of sponge upside down on a cardboard round.  Brush with 1/4 of the brandy soaking syrup. Brushing layer with brandy sauceSpread half of the apricot filling over this layer.Half the filling on the cake layerFilling spread Place the second layer on top brush with soaking syrup and spread 2/3 of the ganache over this layer.Chocolate on layerChocolate Ganache spread Top with the third layer, brush with another 1/4 of the soaking syrup and spread with the remaining half of the apricot filling. Apricot spread on 2nd layerTop with the last layer of the sponge and brush with the remaining syrup.

The torte will be easier to finish if it is partially frozen.

Undercoat the Viennese Torte with the Coffee Flavored French Buttercream. Chill to set up.
Overcoat the cake reserving some of the buttercream for decoration.

Fit a pastry bag with a #5 plain tip. Fill with the remaining ganache.  Pipe lines about 3/4 inches horizontally across the top. Piping horizontal linesHorizontal lines 2Horizontal lines finishedTurn the cake one quarterCake turned 1/4 turn and pipe lines on a diagonal the same distance apart.Piping diagonallyFinishing with breaks in pipingIf you have breaks in the lines as I do here, pipe them in carefully.  Filling in holes in pipingFinish the edge of the cake as desired. I have used a #5B tip and finished the edge of the Viennese Apricot Torte with a shell.Piping top edge 1Finishing edge 2Finishing top edge 3Finish bottom edge the same way.Finish bottom edge 1Finishing bottom edge 2Finishing bottom edge completed





Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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17 thoughts on “Viennese Apricot Torte

  1. Manisha


    I cannot get this torte out of my mind. Almost everyday I am reading it during my free time :))))

    Have ordered apricots to begin work on it :)

    Thanx for sharing such lovely recipes and every helpful detail to make putting it together simpler.


  2. Fawn Rechkemmer

    Hey there! Your Torte looks amazing! I hope your recovery goes well. I am stopping by to invite you to come and join the Missouri Women Bloggers network. It is free to join. Our goal is to gather, grow, and connect MO bloggers to empower all of us. In the coming months we will be offering our members meetups, a conference, and compensated writing and blogging opportunities. Just Google Missouri Women Bloggers to find our website where you can learn more about us and join in.

  3. hapsburgbaker

    A lovely torte as customized by you. I appreciate how you inform readers of what elements may be baked and frozen or chilled in advance as it would be daunting all in on day. Give your costs and labor, what would you charge if you were to offer this at your bakery? I live abroad and have lost touch with prices in the States, so i am curious. You have done an impressive job at explaining this, by the way.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. Before I closed my bakery five years ago I would have charged $50 to $60 for this but today’s prices are higher. I no longer do private baking as the restaurant and blog keeps me busy.

  4. sallybr

    I wish you a smooth and speedy recovery!

    I was also wondering about you and waiting anxiously for a new post – this one left me speechless…. it is a masterpiece worthy of the cover of a patisserie book!

    take care!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      hi sally there was a lot to do to get the restaurant ready for me to be gone so long so i fell behind blogging should be back to normal with the blogs

  5. Rockyrd

    Dear Helen,
    This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it. The photos are so well done and show the details of it. Isn’t the internet amazing?
    I hope your hand is better, it just takes time. Are you doing therapy? As you know I cooked for a living for over 30 years and I have had 3 hand surgeries and am anticipating having my other thumb joint done this winter. They say time heals all wounds, right?
    But I have to make this torte soon! I am drooling.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      no therapy yet it is wrapped from the top of my fingers half way up my arm. first stitches out on the 3rd. hopefully this will take care of the problem.

  6. Maria R Springer

    Hi Helen…I love your posts….since I too am from Austrian decent…and have thought cooking and baking classes with only Austrian/European menus and pastries…I love your well written recipes…all the scientific and practical advise you give…..and I love all your recipes…I have not baked any of the yet…but this last one..the Apricot Coffee Torte…really caught my interest…I will need to make this one for sure…
    I remember my mother making cakes with bread or cake crumbs…she called batter Sandkuchenteig…it is a more porous and crumbly kind of cake when it is baked….I wish we could meet sometimes and bake together…it would be such fun….big hug to you….

  7. Manisha

    Helen I was so eagerly waiting for your new post. For the past two days I was checking my mails frequently bcoz I knew something amazing was coming :)


    1. hfletcher Post author

      thank you as always hand surgery keeps me from proper punctuation. very difficult right now. can’t wait to get my hand back

      1. Maria R Springer

        Helen….I can imagine how you feel….without the ability to use your hand….but, it will get better and will heal completely and you will be soon back in your kitchen baking….I too am a little “behindert” incapacitated…I have had Cataract surgery on one of my eyes…and feel half blind most of the time…I never know where I left my reading glasses…In the past I had contacts and never used glasses …this is a new situation for me…and I will have to get used to it…..In the mean time….I wish you a quick and complete recovery…sending healing hugs….

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