There are lots of recipes out there for rehrücken if you start hunting around a bit. Most are simple bundt-style, extra-moist chocolate cakes that just happen to be made in a rehrücken mold. I prefer this formula by Austrian pastry chef Stephan Franz since it’s a spongecake, which makes it closer in spirit to the rehrückens of the 19th Century. Purists will be disheartened to discover that the recipe calls for a small amount of chemical leavening. What can I say? Franz’s willingness to meet modernity half way is one of the things I like about him.
For the Cake
3.5 ounces (3/4 cup) slivered almonds
1.75 ounces all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon instant coffee
2.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2.5 ounces (5 tablespoon) unsalted butter
4 large eggs, room temperature
3.75 ounces (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) sugar
To Build the Cake
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup apricot jam
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay the slivered almonds out on a sheet pan and toast them for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. When they’re completely cool, put them into the bowl of a food processor along with the flour, baking powder and instant coffee. Process about 30 seconds, until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk in the ginger.
Turn the oven down to 350 and butter and flour a rehrücken mold. Put the butter and the chocolate together in a bowl and melt them in the microwave using 10-15 second bursts on high power. Use as many as it takes to get the chocolate mostly melted, then simply stir it the rest of the way. You want it just barely warm to the touch when you use it, so if you’ve overdone it on the heat, allow it to cool.
Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip. Whip on high speed until the mixture is very thick and tripled in volume, about 10-12 minutes. With the machine running, add the chocolate mixture and whip until incorporated, about a minute more. Add the nut mixture all at once and fold it in. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes until a sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before proceeding to assembly.
To assemble, turn out the cake and trim the edges down the length of the cake. Bring the apricot jam to a simmer and strain out the fruit. Gently, with a serrated knife, cut the cake into three layers. Fill both layers with a thin smear of raspberry jam, reassemble the cake, and move it to a wire rack. Cover the entire cake with a glaze of apricot jam. Stick slivered almonds into the cake around the radius and along the length, protruding about half an inch.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave, applying ten-second bursts as you did with the chocolate and butter mixture in the cake batter. Again, it should be just barely warm. Allow it to sit and thicken slightly, about 10 minutes, then ladle it over the cake, gently tipping the rack if need be to get every spot coated with chocolate. Allow the cake to stand until the chocolate firms, then transfer to a platter. The cake will keep well, uncut, for several days.
Reader Tom writes in from Vienna:
The Rehrücken is traditionally part of the Austrian confection of pastry, like Sacher Torte. Yet I have no evidence to prove it except it is really traditional. [Your recipe] is kind of strange because of the ginger, which is definetly not part of any Rehrücken-recipe here. Same goes for raspberry or apricot jam. Same for instant coffee. And we don’t “fill” the Rehrücken with any jam. We glaze the *whole* thing with (a rather sour tasting) red currant jam and then one more time with chocolate, and we insert the almonds always after glazing… otherwise the almonds will look dirty, and they have to be pearly white. Oh, by the way… we insert whole white almonds, not slivered ones.
Other than that, my version was 100% authentic.