Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Dobos Torta



I am a quarter Hungarian. I love baking cakes. What do these seemingly random statements add up to? It means I was very excited to take on this month's Daring Bakers challenge.

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: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

As I was saying before, I was happy to see a cake for this challenge, especially one that I haven't made before. Even though I create cakes for a living, I never tire making them. Also, I was pleased to be making something that is part of my ancestry. I really don't know much about my Hungarian ancestors, but over the years, I've been doing some genealogy and this challenge was a little reminder to start that up again.



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.




The Dobos Torta does take more time than your average cake, but overall, I found the directions very easy to follow and it was a relaxing couple of hours while getting into a good rhythm with the technique. Although, our hostesses said we could be create with the size and shape and some of the flavors, I decided to stay true to the classic design of this well known torte. I did make a caramel buttercream and alternated it with the chocolate buttercream & I slightly flavored the sponge layers with a caramel flavoring as well. I've added a few notes and comments in this color, so you can follow my journey.


Equipment

2 baking sheets
9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
a sieve
a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
a small saucepan
a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
metal offset spatula
sharp knife
a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a springform tin.
piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times

Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes



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

Directions for the sponge layers:

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. *I added some caramel flavoring, just a hint and it worked well with the chocolate and caramel buttercreams.

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.) *I baked each torte layer separately, since it was only a 5 minute baking time. I didn't see any reason to keep opening the oven door that many times and letting the heat out. Also, I followed the circle on the parchment very close when I spread the batter and they turned out very circular and I didn't even need to trim them. When you frost the sides of the cake, it evens out the sides if they happen to not line up exactly.



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.

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required. *I made the chocolate buttercream first and by the time I had baked all the torte layers, it was ready to have the butter added and finished mixing.

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. *Using a hand whisk works fine--I didn't need to use an electric mixer for this step.

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. *I transferred the buttercream mixture to my Kitchen Aid mixer and used the whisk attachment. I added the soft butter while it was on high speed (in small amounts) and it came out perfectly. The key is to make sure it gets whipped long enough and is chilled after mixing.


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 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.

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. *I had some extra Vanilla Swiss Buttercream Icing leftover from another cake & I added some caramel flavor and alternated it in between the layers in addition to the chocolate buttercream.

3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake. *I toasted them first, then chopped them. They had a nice nutty flavor.

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. *Personally, I thought the cake was better slightly chilled, rather than at room temperature, but either way it was still delicious.

54 comments:

  1. Jill, your dobos is fantabulous. Love the chocolate and caramel center piece.

    I wish you have shot it in a brighter room, your cake would make very outstanding pictures....

    Regards
    Kris

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  2. i am completely jealous of your beautiful creation!!!

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  3. Beautifully decorated! Lovely work :)

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  4. Beautiful and so intricate. I froze ours and we love it that way. I think the serve at room temperature thing is an opinion. =) Great challenge!

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  5. This is beautiful and very professional looking... oh, right, look who I'm talking to!! ;-)

    Love the caramel topping!

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  6. Just gorgeous! I love how you decorated it!

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  7. I can't believe I didn't toast my hazelnuts first! Great job!

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  8. Gorgeous!! Your cake looks stunning and professional =D. I love the decorations!

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  9. YOur torte looks great! Love what you did with the caramel and generally how you decorated it! Looks posh but soooo yummy :) Amazing job! Cheers :)

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  10. You cake came out beautifully! I like the caramel buttercream idea!

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  11. Wow! Beautifully decorated! Wonderful job, it looks great.

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  12. Wow!!! Your cake is beautiful!

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  13. Good job honoring your Hungarian roots. It looks lovely.

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  14. I think that your Dobos turned out beautifully, and how exciting to make something that honors your ancestery. I love that you added the caramel layer. If I make this again I will try that. I wasn't happy with the caramel for this recipe at all- it just wasn't what I expected. I was thinking "gooey" but it ended up being "stickey" (and how does one eat that?). The caramel cream layer would definatley make it more like what I envisioned. I agree with you that it was better chilled.

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  15. Love how you decorate the cake... it looks super delicious :)

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  16. I'm drooooling all over the place! This is the most gorgeous creation I've ever seen! So incredible, gorgeous, beautiful, lovely!

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  17. I love your gorgeous caramel piece on the top. Just lovely. I would certainly like to tuck into a piece of this! :)

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  18. What pretty decorations! Your cake looks perfect and beautiful! Very well done!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  19. Gorgeous cake! I especially love the decorative caramel. Your blog/business name is so fabulous! :)

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  20. I love your idea of alternating flavor layers with-in the cake. Awesome Job!

    www.bonobocakes.wordpress.com

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  21. OMG! that cake looks amazing! awesome job!!!!

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  22. What a cake!!!I know you said you stayed true to the recipe but the decoration!!! I love the choc and caramel centre.

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  23. Wowsa!! You do amazing work. Deelish, eh??

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  24. Mmmm, looks really delicious! Lovely. :)

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  25. Ciao Jill! Your dobos is a wonder !! I love the addiction of the caramel buttercream !!

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  26. Wow Jill, I am so blown out of the water by your stunning creation! Great work!!!

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  27. Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog :)
    Dobos Torte looks gorgeous, lovely presentation :)

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  28. Mmm.. layering it with a caramel buttercream along with the chocolate sounds delicious. And, I love all your little red notes. Your cake is stunning!

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  29. Your cake looks gorgeous. Looks so professionally finished.

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  30. That is absolutely beautiful! I love how even your layers are and how tall your cake is! I can see that your talent for the Dobos is definitely in the genes as it's absolutely stunning :)

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  31. Amazing! I love the decorations on your cake, it's beautiful.

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  32. Absolutely beautiful! You did a fantastic job with your decorating. Brava!

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  33. Jill,
    I failed! I spend the whole morning doing other things, shopping at Rainbow food for example (school started and that has been hectic). I even had the eggs and the butter out, but then I had to start preparing for the farmers' market which is today. I made challah for the fist time to sell at the market and that took time. I have to make a birthday cake today so I will be a day late and make the dobos torte for that. Your cake is beautiful as usual, you are very talented. I read that the cake is really good.

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  34. Caramel buttercream sounds SO GOOD! Your torte is a piece of art!!! Your ancestors would be proud:)

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  35. Jill, I'm in awe..your Dobos is absolutely stunning and the decor is just mind blowing! I had leftover chocolate curls in the freezer, and planned on using them, but forgot :( Oh well, since I had to use the point and shoot, no big deal..LOL Excellent job as expected!

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  36. look at your gorgeous cake! Awesome decorations. glad you liked its taste too.

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  37. chocolate and caramel buttercreams wow and the torta looks delightful. Everything looks wonderful. Bravo and kudos. I like how the torta has a connection to your history. Cheers from Audax in Australia

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  38. Beautiful and love the decoration! great work!! thanks for dropping by =)

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  39. Oh my! That is gorgeous -- I'd be happy just with the chocolate curls from the top. I agree that the cake is better cold than brought to room temp.

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  40. A spendid torte! Your decorations are stunning! Thanks for all the detailed comments and information!

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  41. There really isn't much to say other than.. stunning. It's absolutely stunning. Oh and that I suddenly have this fantasy of living in an edible house made of caramel buttercream. *swoon*

    xoxoxo

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  42. Just beautiful. This is so similar to the cake I remember in Kyrgyzstan. Isn't it fun to make something that MEANS something to you!?

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  43. Gorgeous! Your cake is absolutely stunning!
    Great job!

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  44. OMG this is the most beuatiful version that I have seen. It has everything on it and the layers are just perfect. Looks like it belongs is a patisserie, absolutely stunning.

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  45. What a beautiful Dobos you've created! Great job!

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  46. WOW!!! Looks soooo delicious with the fillings and the chocolate on top.

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  47. That is soooo beautiful. Just like what you can get in bakeries. Great job! you did an excellent job.

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  48. absolutely decadent; i love the caramel buttercream addition. yum!

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  49. Hi Jill. Your torta looks beautiful & delicious! I didn't get to participate this month. I have a lot to catch up! :) Well done!

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  50. There is only one word to describe your torta: WOW! It looks stunning. I have been away for a few days and your blog has exploded! Lots of reading to catch up on :)

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  51. gorgeous decor on your dobos torte! I'm truly inspired by your story....I am in culinary school now. I'm not sure what my dream is yet, but I love how you have followed yours!

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