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 Caffes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
The Dobos Torte was inventedin 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it quickly 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 torte is a five layer sponge cake filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with wedges of caramel. It’s also one of the most amazing things I have ever baked. We devoured this cake in two days (luckily I only made a mini cake, because I’m sure we would have eaten a full size one just as quickly!) and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I’m already planning on making it for any occasion that might warrant cake, and am thinking of different flavor combinations for the cake and filling.
This time, I stuck with the traditional vanilla sponge cake with dark chocolate buttercream and hazelnuts. Because I really love chocolate and hazle nut though, i decided to increase the nut flavor by brushing the cake layers with frangelico. The sponge soaked up the liquor very nicely and gave the entire cake a nice hazelnut flavor. Delicious! I also really liked how thin the layers of cake are on this – it give your a really nice cake to frosting ratio. No mouthfulls of dry cake or huge globs of frosting with this one!
This cake looks impressive because of all the layers, but it really isn’t difficult to make at all – the layers are shaped and baked on a cookie sheet, almost like making little pancakes. Or you can be lazy and may a big pan-size cake and then cut our your layers from that. You’ll waste (who am I kidding? you’ll have scraps to snack on while you work on the assembly) a little bit of cake that way but its a little less complicated.
Sponge cake layers
- 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 2/3 cups confectioner’s sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons sifted cake flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup ultrafine sugar
- 2oz good quality dark chocolate (such as scharffen berger), finely chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature.
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1/4 cup frangelico (optional)
- 3 Tbs chopped hazelnuts
Beat the egg yolks, half the confectioner’s 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.
.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining confectioner’s 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.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Spread 1/2 of batter on the sheet in a thin circle – bout 6-inches in diameter. Bake at 400 degress for 5 minutes, or until cake is set and top spring back when you press on it lightly. Remove layer from pan and repeat with remaining batter. (Alternately, spread a thin layer of batter across the entire sheet, then cut out 6-inch circles after it has baked and cooled). When all layers have cooled, use a sharp knife to trim the edges into neat rounds (you can use a ramekin or dessert plate as a mold to help with this step)
Meanwhile, prepare the buttercream. Prepare a double-boiler by bringing a small saucepan half full of water to a boil. Set a bowl in the pan, so that the bottom of the bowl rests above the boiling water. Whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. Pour this mixture into the double boiler and cook, stirring constantly, until the misture had thickened – about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped chocolate and allow to melt. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Beat in the room temperature butter.
To prepare the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place one cake layer on the paper. Cut the cake into 4 slices or into decorative shapes. 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 until the syrup has turned into an amber-colored caramel. Immediately pour over the prepared cake layer. Allow to cool to room temperature.
To assemble torte, drizzle each cake layer with 1 tsp frangelico (if using). Spread each layer with buttercram and stack them. Then ice the sides of the cake. Top with caramel pieces and garnish with chopped hazelnuts. Refrigerate the cake to allow the buttercream to set, but allow it to come to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
Makes one mini cake, which will serve about 4.