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 Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
According to this month’s hosts, “The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.” The Dobos Torta is a Hungarian specialty.
While I enjoyed the architectural feats involved with creating a cake with so many layers, I don’t know that I would want to make this again. I am a chocolate cake kind of gal, and this recipe just didn’t take me to that level. That said, the buttercream frosting was wonderful due to its super-light “whipped” quality. I’ll earmark that part for future recipes.
Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague
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
• pinch of salt
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
• 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favorite dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
• 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
• 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
• 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower) I used canola.
• 7” cardboard round (optional)
• 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted (optional)
• ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts (optional)
Directions for the sponge layers:
1. Position the racks in the top and center 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). Note: I skipped this step and just baked a single large rectangle. Once it was finished baking, I used a cookie cutter to cut out each of my star layers.
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.
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 ¾ cup 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 center and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the center rack. Note: Again, I didn’t have to do all this work since I just made one big rectangle.
6. 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.) Note: Again, I didn’t have to do all this work since I just made one big rectangle.
Note: The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.
Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
1. Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes.
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.
Note: This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.