Thursday, August 27, 2009

DB: Dobos Torta

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar
and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

I have to confess: Time caught up with me again. This time I have a really good reason though: My mom's surprise birthday party is Saturday. I'm making 3 cakes for it, as my dad invited like 40+ people to a restaurant to celebrate. So I made a little baby cake out of the cuttings of the big cakes to photograph, but the real shots will come Saturday when I put it all together for the party. Until then you have to consider the little haystacks for what they are: scraps put together to mimic the ultimate concept, although not nearly as cute as it will be. I would put it together tomorrow to photograph and get it ready ahead of time, but alas, I'm overnight in the ICU, attempting to save lives. Hopefully my night is quiet and I get some sleep, but you never know.

UPDATE: So I finished the cake just in the nick of time for my mom's party! I actually did have a nice night in the ICU! Got some sleep, planned my day of baking, and got a little bit more sleep. Virtually unheard of in the world of ICUs! Anyways, turns out I didn't plan my day well, my brother ate all the eggs, so it threw me for a loop, and I ended up super pressed for time! I was literally finishing these cakes at 7:05, and I had to still get ready and drive to the restaurant, but I definitely made it by like 7:20! Well before my parents came at 7:40! I made three cakes for the party, heads up for another future post. These cakes are the best ones I have made in a while. The cake was fabulous, each had a different type of buttercream that was to die for, and they were all pretty easy to make and put together. Awesomeness. Anyways, check back soon, hopefully I'll have that info up Tues or Wed, as I'm overnight in the hospital again tomorrow, and gmail is blocked so I can't log in!! Eek! For now enjoy this sneak peek...

As for the making of the cake. I was a bit intimidated at first. Folding in egg whites, making a stencil on parchment, 5 minute baking times, double boiler action, etc. Lots of techniques that I usually shy away from because there are lots of opportunities for them to go wrong. Amazingly though, this cake was super easy to put together. The cakes were easy to make and easy to spread. The only trouble for me was doling out the batter. I actually measured the first 3 with a measuring cup to 3/4 c. The last three ended up being much thicker though because there was so much leftover batter.

As for the chocolate buttercream: WOW! Oh my goodness! New favorite icing! I added a bit of cinnamon to the recipe to make it a little different from the base recipe. I love the sweet hint of burn it provides. It was amazing in a way I don't think I can describe adequately. The texture light and silky, the flavor deep and chocolatey. It seems so light you forget that it's got 2+ sticks of butter in it. I could eat it with a spoon... mmmmmmmmm.....
I ate my little haystack, and it was delicious! The cake is light and airy, the chocolate deep and rich. I put a little caramel from the caramel cake for mom's birthday on top, and dusted it with hazelnuts. The hazelnuts added a crunch and nutty flavor, the cakes light, spongy and a vanilla element, and that buttercream, smooth and rich. All in all, I can't WAIT to put it all together for the party on Saturday... its going to be a show stopper!!

Check back Sunday for the REAL results, and not my little haystack version!! Also, check my friend and Daring Domesticated Goddess Diana, of Thyme to Lyme, to see what she came up with!

UPDATE: So clearly I finished up the cake, it was delicious. I would definitely make this again, with more flavors of buttercream. I think the hazelnuts definitely made the cake! Yum!! Hooray for another fantastic Daring bakers challenge!!

Dobos Torte


2 baking sheets

9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates

mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)

a sieve

a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly

over the top of the pan)

a small saucepan

a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or

stand mixer will make life much easier)

metal offset spatula

sharp knife

a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.

piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times

Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.

Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10

minutes after this to beat and divide.

Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.

Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake layers

6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided

1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g

cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)

pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (200g) caster sugar

4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

1 cup (200g) caster sugar

12 tablespoons (180 ml) water

8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice

1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

a 7” cardboard round

12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted

½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and

well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1. Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).

2. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9"

(23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of

the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that

the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)

3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a

medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and

forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3

minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the

whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten

whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of

white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in;

repeat with the remaining flour.

5. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula,

spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one

baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when

pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes,

repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the

first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat

surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let

stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it

before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter

to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan

bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated

knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1. Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a



Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five

minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.

3. Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and

lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for

2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped

chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.

4. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room

temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.

5. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a

time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in

with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety

chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room

temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a

very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to

beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is

hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:

1. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel

topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the

reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil

a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.

2. Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a

medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth

syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the

handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan

with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.

3. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you

have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't

just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake

layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread

it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some

leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice

toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread

the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set,

about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a

pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the

caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge

of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice

movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee

strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before

covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I

highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that

the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

1. Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.

2. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round

and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing.

Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the


3. Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.

4. Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the

wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover

buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the

centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set,

about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavor.


I (Angela) am quite happy to store this cake at room temperature under a glass dome, but

your mileage may vary. If you do decide to chill it, then I would advise also using a glass dome

if you have done. I should also note that the cake will cut more cleanly when chilled.


Shape: The traditional shape of a Dobos Torta is a circular cake, but you can vary the shape

and size if you want. Sherry Yard in Desserts By The Yard makes a skyscraper Dobos by cutting

a full-size cake into four wedges and stacking them to create a tall, sail-shaped cake. Mini

Dobos would be very cute, and you could perch a little disc of caramel on top.

Flavor: While we both love the dark chocolate buttercream and this is traditional, we think it

would be fun to see what fun buttercreams you all come up with! So, go wild! Or, you could

brush each layer with a flavored syrup if you just want a hint of a second flavor. Cointreau

syrup would be divine!

Nuts: These are optional for decoration, so no worries if you're allergic to them. If you don't

like hazelnuts, then substitute for another variety that you like.

Egg concerns

The cooking process for the buttercream will produce lightly cooked eggs. If you fall into a

vulnerable health group then you may wish to use an egg-less buttercream.

1 comment:

Diana said...

I'm still gawking at that sugar glass. Had you done it before or came up with idea at the time. Great designs and awesome presentation. I'm sure people didn't know which to try. Being the dessert glutton that I am, I would have a little of each! Did it feel Food Network Challenge-ey? Or Dessert: Impossible. :)

P.S. I made a cake version of that choc chip cupcake with cream cheese icing for one of my roommate's going away dinner at Comfort. Took it to the restaurant and when they saw it they said they would sell the hell out of that cake if they had it. Holler!