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What is a Sachertorte?

For fans of the Great British Bake Off I am sure that I was not alone when the technical challenge was announced in saying, “What’s a Sachertorte?” In fact, I know I was not alone because two of the bakers, Jo and Holly, weren’t even sure what a Sachertorte was, with only Maryanne saying she had seen a picture of one once. So, in the absence of the usual history lesson that we’ve come to enjoy whilst the bakers bake here is a quick lesson on what a Sachertorte is.

The Sachertorte, invented by Franz Sacher (since most people like to name things after themselves), is a chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam on the top and covered in a dark chocolate icing or ganache on the sides and top. It is finished by the word ‘Sacher’ being written on the top in milk chocolate, just in case you thought it was another kind of torte.

For those wanting a slice, the original Sachertorte is only available from Vienna or Salzburg, and is on sale exclusively at the Hotel Sacher, Cafe Sacher, and Sacher Shop (I’m sensing a theme here). It is also available in the Duty Free area of Vienna Airport and on the Hotel Sacher’s website. The hotel’s recipe is a closely guarded secret, and it is rumoured that the icing contains three different kinds of chocolate.

I know that for some there is no such thing as too much chocolate so I imagine this would be ideal. However, if you are unable to make it to Vienna then Mary Berry’s very own Sachertorte recipe can be found on the BBC’s food pages:

Tell me how to make the chocolate goodness!

Bonus Question: Where can I get a millefeuille?

If you are looking for a millefeuille that tastes like a little piece of heaven then the only place to go is Ladurée.  What you want to order is the praline millefeuille. I don’t care if you’re not a praline fan, that is what you want to order. You will not be disappointed. Trust me.

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Is Gillian Anderson British?

Ever since Gillian Anderson stopped being Agent Dana Scully on the X-Files she has started to be very British. I think the first time I noticed it was in ‘The Last King of Scotland’, but then I just thought it was another American doing the accent; an accent good enough for me to look at my best mate and ask, ‘Is she British?’ Everything I have seen her in since she stopped chasing aliens I ask myself that question again. Her British accent is impeccable, but there is something about her American accent that makes me think that isn’t the one she’s faking.

 There are several British exports that have successfully fooled the American audience into thinking they are one of theirs, I remember the look of horror and fervent denial when I revealed that Hugh Laurie is one of ours to some of my American friends. Yes, House MD is a Brit. He is an Oxford born, Eton and Cambridge educated Brit at that. You need to only look up clips of Jeeves and Wooster to see how very British he is, and have they not realised House looks very much like that chap from all of those Blackadder series?

They’re not the only ones who are fooled though. There are Brits in existence who believe that Gwyneth Paltrow is one of ours having heard her accent in ‘Sliding Doors’ and ‘Emma’. Whilst she may have married a Brit and though we appear to have thoroughly adopted her now, she is still an American. Confusion over accents abounds on both sides of the Atlantic.

What further complicates the Gillian Anderson issue is her tendency to switch accents depending on where the interview is taking place. She is not the only one to do this though, Christian Bale has fooled many into thinking he is American because he adopts an American accent during stateside interviews. Have no doubt, Batman is a Brit.

I have had Tweets sent to me all morning about whether or not she is British, with opinion firmly divided. So, once and for all, is Gillian Anderson British?

Simply, no. She was born in Chicago, Illinois but moved around as a child. She lived in Puerto Rico for over a year shortly after she was born, and then (here’s where the British accent comes from), she lived in London whilst her father attended the London Film School. When she was 11 years old her family moved to Michigan. Although I don’t know many Americans who don’t love the accent now, children can often be cruel (here’s where the American accent comes from) and she felt out of place so adopted a suitably American Midwest accent.

There we go. Born an American, raised a Londoner; a successful hybrid of the two. As the lady herself said, “I always felt I wasn’t completely American and I wasn’t completely British: there was a feeling of having my feet in both places.”

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