Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Dobos Torte

Anatomy of a Daring Baker Challenge.

First, you wait the infinitely long period of time between the challenge you just completed and the challenge you are about to face. You keep checking the site to see if it's up yet. Then you see the challenge and you are either pleasantly surprised or displeased. If you are pleasantly surprised and you have never done the challenge before, you think, okay it's looks a little daunting. If you are displeased witht he challenge, you just tough it out and maybe in the end find out your really glad you tried it, despite your misgivings.

You read the directions, you read them again and you read them again.... And finally you work up the courage to do the challenge. Maybe you will only take it one component at a time. But then you get started and think, hey I could do a few more components. Suddenly you are nearly there. And you think, hey, that wasn't so bad.

If you are anything like me, you are wondering what amazing thing Tartelette is going to come up with or many of the other amazingly talented Daring Bakers. I always have hopes of being really amazingly artistic but in the end, either I am too challenged by the challenge or time becomes a challenge or lack of experience. Any one of these variables makes it all challenging. But you do it anyway. For better or worse you complete the challenge. But you learn so much. I have learned, thanks to Daring Bakers, so much about different desserts and most of all I have learned that an Opera Cake is MY FAVORITE CAKE of all time. But this torte is certainly very delicious. I wasn't too thrilled about the caramel but goodness it was a tastey cake!

August's Daring Bakers' Challenge has been chosen by Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella and me, Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar. We have chosen the famous Dobos Torta, a Hungarian specialty.

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.


* 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

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 center and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the center 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-colored 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 center 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 flavor.


Cristine said...

Love your description of a DB challenge! I am already waiting on pins and needles for September's challenge. :) Your torte looks perfect!

Murasaki Shikibu said...

This looks fab, Lori!

Barbara Bakes said...

I'm really impressed with your perfect layers! Great job!

Selba said...

It looks so delicious... I like cake with layers...

Oh, someday, I will post our Indonesian layer cake which in one cake has more than 25 layers. The cake is using more than 30 egg yolks with cinnamon, nutmeg and many more ingredients. My mom bakes it usually for chinese new year :)

Mary said...

This is a beautiful cake. You've outdone yourself, Laurie.

LittleRed said...

Well that just looks cute as a button!

Kitchen Goddess said...

Beautiful Dobos Torte Lori. I wish mine had ended up looking so neat.

Nancy Cook said...

Your torte looks beautiful, Lori. Looks like you went for extra layers too! I also was not thrilled with the carmel. It seems like something softer and less sticky would have been better.

Grace said...

i'm just tremendously impressed, lori! a more perfect cake of multiple layers i have never seen.

Lauren said...

Love the description - totally true =D. Your torte looks stunning! Awesome job on this challenge!

Angela said...

Beautiful Dobos, Lori! It's so perfectly neat and even.

Holly said...

Looks fabulous! I agree with you about the caramel not being the greatest. Great job!

Chow and Chatter said...

wow you are so talented there's an amazing cake shop patesserie called Tisserie in NYC this should be sold there lol

Katy ~ said...

Lori, this is picture perfect! Did you like the flavor? Would you make it again?

vibi said...

Lori this is perfection... your layers are amazing! I'm speechless.

Isabelle said...

What a gorgeous cake! Your caramel looks perfect - I failed mine!

Anonymous said...

Lori, you summed up the feel and excitement of being a DB'er perfectly! That said, your torte came out stunning..picture perfect in every way, shape and form..not to mention it looks yummy!

BTW, I'm not sure if you checked back in the comment section of my peanut butter cheesecake brownie entry, but I'd be flattered if you baked and posted my recipe! :)

Megan said...

Great post and oh so true. I found a few things not only fun but delicious when I was not looking forward to the recipe. Like the Lemon Meringue Pie. :) Now I LOVE it!
Your Dobos Torte looks beautiful.

Ingrid said...

Ya did good Lori! And you know what I never check her blog. Not that she isn'tamazing but she's a trained pastry chef isn't she? I wanna be wowed by someone just like myself. No experience except what I've learned by trial and error. Busy mom with her hands already full. You know where I'm going......

Tracy said...

Yours looks great!

Madam Chow said...

Wow - that is one gorgeous cake!

kat said...

Your cake looks beautiful! We discovered from this challenge our new favorite frosting recipe