Last week I was in Austria. The culinary journey began with my boarding the Austrian Airlines flight. The moment it took off, the butler approached with a menu. To my surprise, it had a wide choice of coffees besides mouthwatering choice of starters, main course and of course desserts.
Austrian cuisine comprises influences from the former Astro-Hungarian empire. Culinary styles of Italy, Hungary, Bohemia, Germany and Balkans have influenced the Austrian cuisine. Although Austrian cuisine is often associated with Viennese cuisine, there are significant regional variations.
On asking the butler, the reason for an elaborate coffee menu, I was informed that Austria is credited in popular legend with introducing coffee to Europe after bags of coffee beans were left behind by the retreating Turkish army after the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
Coffee is served in a variety of styles, particularly in the Viennese cafes. An Austrian Mokka or Kleiner Schwarzer is similar to espresso. Just like English are famous for their afternoon tea and biscuits, the Austrian socialising emphasises on inviting each other over coffee and cake. Cake recipes are very complex in Austria.
Other styles of Mokka are:
● großer Schwarzer-a double Mokka
● kleiner Brauner or großer Brauner-single or double Mokka plus milk
● Verlängerter-“lengthened” (i.e. diluted) Mokka with more water plus milk
● Melange-half Mokka, half heated milk, often topped with foamed milk
● Franziskaner-Melange topped with whipped cream not foamed milk
● Kapuziner-kleiner Schwarzer plus whipped cream
● Einspänner-großer Schwarzer topped with whipped cream
● Wiener Eiskaffee-iced Mokka with vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream
After landing in Vienna and checking in the hotel, I went to Steffan Plaza, an important market place, around the St. Steffan Church. I went to a small quaint cafe, where I was served the most delicious apple strudel with vanilla sauce and a double mokka. Then I went to Aida, a bakery chain at the Steffan Plaza and indulged in some delicious cakes and chocolates.
What I was waiting to dig in was the famous Sachertorte. A specific type of chocolate cake or torte invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel Von Metternich in Vienna. Later, Franz Sachers son Eduard Sacher completed the recipe while working at Demel bakery in Vienna, as a pastry chef. The torte was served at Demel bakery and then at Sacher hotel. After a long legal battle to claim the recipe, Sacher hotel got the trade name the original Sachertorte and Demel bakery the trade mark Eduard-Sacher-Torte.
Although the legal battle went on for seven years, the cake never lost its charm. The cake consists of two dense layers of chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and covered with a dark chocolate icing topped with unsweetened whipped cream.