Sachertorte: Behind the Scenes
It was a blustery February morning when I arrived at Pasticceria Penso, one of Trieste’s oldest bakeries. Before I realized what was happening, I had been whisked behind the counter and into the kitchen, where a couple dozen chocolate cakes were being pulled from the oven. The owner, Italo Stoppar, and his sons, Lorenzo and Antonello, were making sachertorte, one of the fancy Viennese desserts to find its way into Friuli-Venezia Giulia. When the cakes had cooled sufficiently, Italo proceeded to slice them into two layers and trim off the rough edges. A huge bucket caught all the chocolate trimmings—it was all I could do to keep myself from sneaking a handful. The next step was to douse the cakes with Maraschino liqueur and slather on the apricot jam. Finally, Antonello assembled the layers and glazed the cakes with a rich chocolate ganache, while Italo decorated the sides with chocolate sprinkles and piped the word “Sacher” on top. In the display case, two-bite versions of sachertorte sat in rows alongside countless other treats, such as mini dobostortes, apple strudel, fruit tarts, and the local dried fruit- and nut-filled spiral cakes called putizza and presnitz. I was in pastry heaven!
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