Thursday, August 27, 2009

A lesson in Hungarian - Dobos Torte, DB August 2009

Yup, it's that time of the month again.

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.

It's been a while since I last make a layered cake, not for myself anyway, so I welcomed this month's challenge with open arms =).

This is the first time I heard about Dobos Torte. After a quick consultation with Google, I found out that Dobos Torte is Hungarian in origin and basically means a layered sponge cake with chocolate buttercream. And, not to forget, the trademark caramel glazed sponge cake layers that forms a fan-like decoration on top of the cake.

Although it is quite time consuming and quite fiddley, this recipe is quite simple. The texture of the sponge cake is one of the best I ever had. I made three mini cakes, I didn't play around with the flavours nor the presentation too much this month. I did had a bit of fun with the caramel-glazed sponge layer.

Thanks ladies for yet another tasty challenge =)

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 (ultrafine or superfine white) 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 (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)

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.)

A baked layer.

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 boil.
2.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 cake.
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 flavour.


  1. Very nicely done! It was a bit "fiddley" ;) however, delicious. I love the little caramel drops you made, gorgeous!

  2. Your minis are so cute - I love them.

  3. LOL Yay I love Google as well, the answer to all my dilemmas. I must give you a standing ovation for your patience, you actually made 3 versions? I was struggling with just the one!

  4. Love the fun you had with the caramel...beautiful! I love petit desserts & was in half a mind to try making mine petite...but chickened out! Yours are precious!

  5. Your caramel decorations are adorable! Lovely job!

  6. Fantastic job! I love your mini Dobos and I'm so glad that you liked it! :) Oh and by the way your musical cake is fantastic! :D

  7. Hi ice tea
    Just had to say your little dobos version is sooo cute!
    It looks great
    And the decoration is very original
    Great job!

    (also a DB)

  8. Your tortes looking lovely, I particularly love the caramel top with the holes in it :D
    Beautiful job!

  9. Such cute little dobos and hazelnuts! Well done. That last caramel topping (with the holes) looks like a lotus root. Very cool.

  10. Pretty little sweet :)

  11. Wonderful! I love your caramel decorations and the mini cakes. Great job!

  12. Beautiful little caramel decorations and the caramelized hazelnuts! Excellent job! :)

  13. so adorable - these look simply wonderful and love the decoration on this!

  14. These are so lovely! Your caramel decoration is so creative.


  15. Wow I just love your caramel topps and the mini tortas looks smashing. Bravo and well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Australia Sydney

  16. Your little tortes look beautiful. I especially liked the punched out caramel topped one.

  17. They look so pretty! You did a great job, wow!



  18. BEAUTIFULLY DONE! I love the 'petit four' take on the Dobos. Perfect amount for such a rich cake! I agree... it was fiddly indeed, espeially the caramel with the humidity we had here!

  19. Fantastic work...beautiful caramel decorations! just love it! thanks for dropping by..

  20. Yum =D. Your tortes are gorgeous! I love the photos as well!

  21. I LOVE your description of "quite fiddely" and you are so right! Great mini Dobos -- plating is perfect for them.

  22. I love your mini Dobos - so cute! Beautiful presentation and your caramel decorations is fabulous!

  23. I love your mini Dobos! SO creative..

  24. Your torte toppers look terrific (as well as the Dobos too.) The topper with holes looks like a cross-section of a lotus root... which I thought you used. lol :-) Great job!

  25. Stunning! You did an amazing job, and I love your creativity with the different shapes in the caramel wedge layer.

  26. I am envious of your beautiful photographs! What a great torta. The decorations are very cute and I love the dipped hazelnuts (note to self, dip hazelnuts in leftover caramel!).

    I'm with you on the cake - it was quite nice (even if mine did stick to the parchment) and very easy to make. I'd definitely use that part of the recipe again on its own.

    Well done!

  27. Your Dobos Torte look great. Oh I love this time of the month. Its amazing what you all do for Daring Bakers. I'm so tempted to join. I love to bake but I just dont know if I can produce such beautiful tasty treats..

  28. I love the top caramel layers, especially the one with the holes. that made my morning!

  29. I also fell for the lotus root-like look. Very well done. :)

  30. that petite cake looks so adorable, so cute! :)

  31. These look wonderful. Great job!

  32. I love what you did with the caramel decorations! Great job!

  33. Your tortes are perfection...they are gorgeous! Great job!! :)

  34. Me, too! The lotus topper is just the cutest! Very clever to do those shapes differently for the top because they make them so distinct.

  35. Such beautiful little cakes! Love the lotus-shaped caramel pieces... Very unique!

  36. I love the little mini tortes! How fun!

  37. Sorry to comment so late...gorgeous tortes!! I like them mini size---cuz it means you don't have to share!! I didn't do the caramel sponge layer---yeah, I'm naughty---but I think it's perfect without it You did a good job with teh caramel though!!

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