Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dobos Torte - A la Daring Bakers!

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof 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.

***It's that time again! This month's challenge was none other than a fabulous Dobos Torte...a five layer sponge cake that's filled with a decadent chocolate buttercream and topped off with a beautiful display of wedges coated with caramel. Sounds yummy, right?

This particular cake was invented in 1885 by a man named Jozsef C. Dobos...a Hungarian baker. The recipe was kept under lock and key until Dobos retired in 1906, at which point it was finally shared. Boy, am I glad this recipe is not still a closely guarded secret. The taste was fabulous!

The steps to make this cake are took several hours just to complete the cake. That's one reason I'm so proud to be a Daring Baker though. I never, ever would have made this cake if not for this wonderful group of foodies. They challenge me in so many ways, and I learn something new every single month.

This month, the most complicated aspect of this recipe was certainly the caramel topping. I actually cooked the caramel a little too long the first time. After finishing my first attempt at the caramel topping, I wasn't completely satisfied with the way it looked. Because I had cooked it too long (a candy thermometer would have helped with that!), the caramel was just too dark of a color...not the beautiful caramelly color I was seeing on the Daring Baker discussion board. So, I dumped some more sugar, water and lemon juice into a saucepan and tried again. After all, if at first you don't succeed...

The second batch came out perfectly. The color was spot-on, and I was happy with it. The finished caramel was really hard to eat (very chewy!), though. From what I've read, it sounds like this problem was caused by the humidity. Anyone who lives in the Southeast USA knows what I'm talking about. It was still tasty, but next time I'll probably leave out the lemon juice....I wasn't crazy about it in the caramel.

After all was said and done, this cake was a huge hit. The chocolate buttercream is simply's so incredibly delicious, and the layers of spongecake were also amazing. Thanks to Lorraine and Angela for a wonderful challenge this month!!!

Please check out the other Daring Bakers' incredible creations at the Daring Bakers Blogroll. You'll be blown away by the creativity of this group!***

Dobos Torte:
- 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 sprinfrom 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:
Note: 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.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
Note: 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.

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.

Store in the refrigerator. Otherwise, the buttercream icing may become too soft.


Mary Teresa said...

Mmm yum! The caramel seemed to be a sticking point for a lot of us, but good for you giving it a second go. Glad you enjoyed it.

Snooky doodle said...

this cake looks so good. Delicious! Presentation is awesome. Have to try it :)surely it won t come as nice as yours.

Jenny said...

This looks delicious! I actually chickened out on the caramel (made another kind instead), good on you for giving it a second go when you weren't happy with your first result. Great job!

Julie (Willow Bird Baking) said...

GORGEOUS photos! They really showcase your lovely torte, and your caramel DOES look perfect the second time around!

Holly said...

Looks wonderful! I agree with you about the caramel being very chewy, I thought I was going to loose my fillings!

Great Job!

Lauren said...

Gorgeous photos!! Your torte looks amazing =D. Wonderful job with the challenge!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos and beautiful torte!

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous cake!
Your caramel looks perfect - I failed mine!
Great job on this challenge!

isa said...

Your cake is beautiful and your caramel is perfect!
Nicely done!

Maryanna said...

Great job on your cake.

Lis said...

You truly are DARING! I can't even imagine trying the caramel myself this time.. and you did it twice.. wonderful :)

Your torta looks DELISH! And your blog is so cute, I love it! :)


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a beautiful cake! Perfect and sob delicious looking!



Heather said...

A lovely Dobos torte! Perfectly done components.

jidgede said...

you amaze me!! you are so talented!! i love visiting your is perfection....jennie in tn <><

Pam said...

Lovely torte! I totally agree about the lemon juice in the caramel...I didn't care for it either. I wouldn't have made this on my own either, so I'm glad the Daring Bakers are there to challenge us! :)

ice tea: sugar high said...

Love the close up shots, makes it even more drool-worthy! Excellent job on the challenge, the torte looks amazing

Lisa Michelle said...

That is a textbook, gorgeous, absolutely perfect Dobos Torte! I totally agree that the August humidity was NOT conducive to successful caramel, but yours looks extremely sucessful! Great macro shots too. Very very well done!

morgana said...

What a good looking Dobos. Nice job.

George@CulinaryTravels said...

What a fabulous job of the Torte you did. Love the macro shots!

Joelen said...

Amazing job! The patience alone in prepare this is impressive!

Ash said...

your torte looks just lovely!

sygyzy said...

Instead of tracing and baking one layer at a time per sheet, could you do two circles side by side?

sygyzy said...

Well, I realized the answer to my question. Of course you can't put two circles on one partchment paper. It won't fit.

I made the cake tonight. With so many layers, you'd think it'd be quite tall, like a coconut cake, but it's actually really short. It's also very difficult to get perfect layers. I think using non-stick cake pans, two at a time and dividing up the batter by weight would be one way to get more consistency.

I was surprised that you were so specific in your measurements (weights) but just kind of want your readers to "wing it" when it came to the caramel, which is the most challenging part. I would recommend cooking to a little past the soft-ball stage.

My cake is setting up in the fridge right now. The only disappointing part for me is my caramel triangles never set up hard enough so it's hard for them to stand on the hazelnuts. They kind of just droop down after a while. I even tried pumping extra frosting underneath without much change.

Thanks for posting, what a great recipe. Can't wait to try it.