Dobos Torte

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 Cafés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. I was excited about this one at first because of its source, a book that has been on my wishlist for some time. It is a classic Austrian pastry composed of five airy layers of vanilla sponge enrobed in dark chocolate buttercream and topped with a caramel-glazed cake layer, both for decoration and for the more practical purpose of prolonging storage at room temperature. I’ve made variations of all of these elements during my tenure as a Daring Baker, so the part of the recipe that most concerned me was finding time to make it, now that I’ve got a fully-fledged toddler in the house.


The cake batter was a very simple one: egg yolks beaten until pale with sugar and vanilla, with whipped egg white and cake flour gently folded in. I had no cake flour, so I subbed in a mixture of sifted all-purpose flour and cornstarch. The batter is then spread in a 9″ circle on parchment, and baked just for a few minutes until golden. I used a rotation of 3 sheet pans, and the cakes were all cooling inside half an hour.


After cooling, the cakes had to be carefully peeled off the parchment and trimmed into 8″ rounds. I was grateful for this instruction because the edges of my cakes were less than precise; then again, I freehanded the trimming with my kitchen shears, so they still probably didn’t quite match up at the end. Next, I whipped up the buttercream, eggs foamed up with sugar and heated with dark chocolate over a bain marie. I used Valrhona chocolate and ordinary granulated sugar, rather than the caster sugar called for. Although I cooled my buttercream base in the fridge and thoroughly softened my butter, I ended up with some pretty soupy frosting, so I decided to refrigerate it overnight rather than using it immediately. I suspect that the extra-large eggs I used were a major contributor to the consistency; perhaps adding more butter would have made a difference.


Before calling it a night, I went ahead and made the caramel for the topping. This recipe uses both water and lemon juice, and made an incredibly foamy caramel as it cooked down. I cut one cake layer into wedges and laid them in a circle on my silpat, and then poured the caramel over. One of the wedges was folded in half by the molten sugar, so I had to gingerly slide it back into position, then begin the somewhat frustrating process of trying to push the caramel out from around and between the wedges of cake. I did what I could until the caramel cooled, and then trimmed the edges a bit more the next day with my kitchen trimmers, but they still didn’t look as clean as I would have liked.


The buttercream, however, fared much better after a night in the fridge. It was still spreadable but not runny, and I was able to assemble my cake. I’ll be storing it in the refrigerator, though, because I suspect that the frosting would melt off if I left it out.


The finished Dobos Torte was tasty, but not spectacular for the amount of effort I put into it. It was pretty sweet, but the almond garnish helped counteract that a bit. I actually didn’t care for the caramel topping at all, mostly because I found the lemon flavor overpowering and ill-suited for the chocolate, but also because it made the cake kind of hard to eat. It did give the cake a beautiful, distinctive look, though. All in all, this was a fun cake to try out, and I appreciate its traditional origins, but I would probably go with another recipe if I really wanted to wow guests. Many thanks to our hosts; the recipe can be found here, and be sure to check out the hundreds of fabulous Dobos Tortes on the Daring Bakers blogroll!

I am a member of the Theta Class of the Daring Bakers, induced in July of 2007. For more information and a list of my previous challenges, click here.

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