Yes, we Daring Bakers are back at making cake again and we're going Hungarian this time!
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.
The Dobos Torte (or Torta) is a 5 layer sponge cake (these cakes have been made with between 6 and 12 layers), filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel, was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker.
While we were expected to make the layered cake and the caramel layer was compulsory, the choices of the shape and size of our cake, number of layers in our cakes and the buttercream flavour was left to us.
For me, this cake challenge was timely, as it was my husband's birthday this month. This cake was the centre piece at a surprise birthday get together our daughter and I organized to celebrate his birthday.
My Dobos Torte Experience:
I had never heard of this cake before this challenge and wanted to retain as much of its original flavours as possible. We love chocolate and the fact that József Dobos chose that to be the main flavour in his cake helped me lean in that direction!
What had me stumped initially was that this recipe required 6 eggs for the sponge cakes and 4 eggs for the buttercream. I really had no idea if I would be successful at substituting for 10 eggs!!
However I found Bryanna Clark Grogan's sponge cake recipe at Vegan Yum Yum, which I used to make my sponge cakes. The recipe, which follows, is my halved and adapted version of Bryanna's recipe. It isn't vegan but contains no eggs.
I didn't have the suggested size jelly roll pans, so I used my two 8" round cake tins. The following recipe gave me a little over 2 cups of batter. I divided the batter equally between the two cake tins, which gave me 2 sponge layers.
I made the cake batter three times which gave me 6 layers in all.
I then made a rectangular sponge using the one small jelly roll pan I have, with a half recipe of batter for the caramel layer.
For the chocolate buttercream, I used the given recipe and just substituted the eggs with milk and cornstarch as in this recipe, the eggs were cooked to form a sort of custard base for the buttercream.
I also made an orange flavoured soaking by heating about 3/4 cup sweet orange marmalade with 1/4 cup water to make a thick syrup.
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour + 1 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
25 gm butter, softened
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oil two 8" cake tins and line with lightly oiled parchment (or aluminium foil) to cover the bottom and sides to a height of about 2". This will allow you to lift the entire cake out of the pan without breaking it. The oil helps the parchment stick to the pan, so it doesn’t slip while pouring in the batter.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter, water, and lemon juice and beat well with an electric mixer for about a minute. Add the remaining ingredients and beat again.
Pour the batter into the lined cake tin and bake at 190C for about 25-30 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the top is lightly browned, and the center springs back to your touch. Allow to cool in pan until just warm.
This makes 2 sponge layers. Repeat to make as many layers as you want (I made 6 layers and one rectangular layer which I cut into smaller rectangular pieces for the caramel sponge layer).
Eggless Chocolate Buttercream
5 tbsps milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped
225 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature.
Make this in advance and keep chilled in the fridge.
Dissolve the cornstarch in about 2 tbsp of water. Melt the chocolate in a large bowl, over a double boiler. Add the sugar to the melted chocolate and whisk till well incorporated into the chocolate.
Now add the dissolved cornstarch and keep whisking till the chocolate thickens. Take the bowl of the heat and cool to room temperature. The chocolate mixture will thicken some more.
The beat in the butter, a few tbsps at a time into the chocolate mixture with an electric mixer till soft and velvety. Chill in the fridge till ready to use.
1 cup caster sugar
12 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons lemon juice
Put all the ingredients in a pan and stir till the sugar dissolves. Now bring the mixture to boil, stirring gently once in a while. Once the mixture starts boiling, turn down the heat to medium and allow the sugar syrup to caramelize and turn amber. Stir gently if you must but do not agitate the syrup.
This syrup is meant to be cooked till amber, but I didn't want a hard caramel layer. So I took the syrup off the heat when it was a deep golden colour and generously spooned the syrup over the rectangular sponge pieces. Allow to set.
I followed the given instructions to assemble the torte. I used the orange flavoured soaking syrup on the layers before sandwiching then with chocolate buttercream. The buttercream was soft and "melty" at room temperature, so refrigerating the cake after every application of buttercream was a must.
After covering the torte with the buttercream, I used a little buttercream as "glue" to stick the caramel pieces on the side of the torte.
I decided to leave the rest of the torte plain and decorated the top with chocolate covered wafer balls.
This Dobos Torte is very rich and slightly on the sweeter side. It's perfect for a special occasion and was a hit with my husband, our daughter and most of our guests. There's always bound to be a few who aren't fond of rich sweet cakes and I'm one of them! I cut the cake into 12 slices, but I think it would have been better if I had cut it into 16 pieces considering how rich it was.
I took my caramel off the heat a bit earlier so it was sticky rather than hard. The sponge pieces absorbed the caramel to produce a slightly chewy layer which was better than hard caramel, but wasn't really very nice.
The fudgy buttercream was much nicer than I expected but meant that I had to keep the cake refrigerated except whaen I was ready to serve it. There was one slice left for the next day, and I must say the torte tasted better the next day.
My layers weren't quite as thin as I would have liked, but I was quite happy on the whole with my effort and the torte.
Now I'm off to see all other Dobos Torte out there.