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.
So, what is the Dobos Torta (or Torte)?
The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) 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.
Finally, I got around to make the challenge for August, this very torte. I don’t know why I kept delaying it, cause it wasn’t that hard after all. It looked a bit intimidating with all those layers, and not like something I would just throw together on a regular weeknight. But with only one week left, I couldn’t wait any longer for an occasion, and decided to challenge myself. And the next day my mother invited us for dinner, so I could bring the dobos torta someplace after all. I don’t like having an entire cake within the house. There is only one end to that.
Anyway. I started by making the buttercream. Actually, I made it the day before. It was easy. I was afraid it wouldn’t thicken enough, making a creamy mess of a cake, but luckily that didn’t happen. It was perfectly creamy yet firm enough to form. Especially after cooling overnight in the fridge.
Secondly came the sponge cake layers. I initially thought I was supposed to make one sponge cake, and then divide it or cut it in many thin layers. So, the lazy baker that I am, I was a little disappointed when I realized that I would have to bake one layer at a time. A little more time consuming than I had planned, but I quickly understood that this was the way to go. Because those layers would be even more uneven if I had to cut them myself. So, patience, my friend. It will be worth it in the end. I had a little more than 1 litre of batter which was divided into 7 layers. Or I tried to divide them more or less equally, giving about 1,5 dl batter per layer. I could easily have made 10, but the first ones came out a little thick, and 7 was more than enough for me. So when the last one was done, I put them on a rack to cool.
Then the fun part could begin: assembling the cake! I took the chilled buttercream out of the fridge, and separated it in 7 sections. I took the thickest sponge layer as my bottom layer and spread one section of buttercream evenly over it. Then I took another sponge cake layer followed by a layer of buttercream and repeated this until I was done. I saved a little buttercream to cover the sides and even out eventual lumps.
The caramel was made quite easily and quickly. Well, it could have been, but I messed it up a bit. My first attempt was burned. I decorated the cake with it before tasting it, but once I had a taste I realized it tasted to much burned, so I had to remove it from the cake and make another batch. Caramelize sugar, remove from heat and add butter and lemon juice. Seems easy enough. But this time the sugar caramelized into lumps and wouldn’t melt, so I had to sift it to get out the liquid caramel. But it came out a lot better, not rock solid, and without the taste and look of burnt sugar. I poured – eh sifted -the caramel into a springform, and cut out 12 slices. When it had cooled and set completely, I put them on top of the cake. (And since I destroyed the first caramel which was attached to a sponge cake layer, I didn’t bother to make one single layer of cake to pour the caramel over. So my top layer was all caramel.)
And it turned out looking quite good! Especially when you cut into the cake and see all the layers hiding inside. Makes you feel like a pro. Cause, as much as I love to bake, I tend to be quite lazy, I want quick results, so I avoid things that takes a little more time. Like this. But thanks to DB I get to do this too! So a big thank you for a great challenge! And of course I should add that it tasted great too. I loved the buttercream, and caramel is always good. I received many compliments for this one! My family thought it looked impressive when I placed it on the table, but they didn’t know what was hiding inside the cake. And once they cut through it and saw all the layers, they were even more impressed. So, if you’re looking to impress – this is a great option.
Once again, thanks for a great challenge!