Berries andPie

baking, cooking, recipes, eating, and obsessing over food

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dobos Torte - Daring Bakers August '09!

Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

When I saw this month's challenge I took a deep breath and gulped. It sure looked challenging, and I had never attempted a cake this ambitious before.

And what a challenge it was! I've been a fan of Lorraine's blog for a while now, and I would expect nothing less than such a exciting choice!

This cake is spectacular. With a recipe handed down since 1906 in Hungary, I thought there was hardly room for 'improvement'! I was originally planning a variation (along the lines of coffee or mocha buttercream), but given I'd not attempted anything like this before, I wanted do the recipe justice, and leave as is (though I'm looking forward to other DB's variations!).

This spectacular torte (which the photos do no justice at all) is not tricky; just a bit time consuming, but it more than pays off on completion. Everyone keeps talking about the texture of this cake: it is light as a cloud, belying the amount of butter involved! The torte almost seems like a mousse cake with the light, airy buttercream, and honestly cannot rave about it enough. Everyone who tried this cake LOVED it!

Thanks Angela and Lorraine for a spectacular challenge!

Dobos Torte

Dobos Torte


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 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 sugar
- 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
- 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

- 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
- 1/2 cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

(You can prepare the sponge layers the night before in advance and stored interleaved with parchment [baking paper] and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.)

1.Position your oven racks in the top 2/3 of the oven, and preheat your oven to 200C.

2.Cut six pieces of baking paper to fit baking sheets/tray. Use the bottom of a 9″ (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, and trace a circle on each of the papers. Turn the parchment upside down so the marker doesn’t come into contact with the sponge.

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.

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 the prepared 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. I added an additional sheet of baking paper over the top and smoothed to ensure I had flat layers (I’m not going into as much detail, here, but thanks, Audax, for this tip!)

6. Place the tray in the oven, and 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 layer is baking, 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, sharp, knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

You can prepare the buttercream in advance and kept chilled until required – it will last a few of days.

1. Prepare a double-boiler – a small saucepan of water, with a medium sized bowl that fits snugly over the top. Quarter fill the saucepan with water and bring to a simmer.

2. Add the egg and sugar to the bowl, and whisk until thick and pale, this will take a few minutes. A hand beater will make this much easier!

3. Place the bowl with the egg and sugar mixture over the saucepan, and continue to beat until you see the mixture start to thicken further, for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate, and continue to whisk over heat for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Once cooled, beat in the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, until it is all incorporated. You will be left with a thick, rich buttercream. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Select the best-looking sponge layer – this will become the caramel top.

2. Line a jellyroll pan with baking paper and butter the paper (this will stop the toffee sticking). Place the reserved cake layer on the paper, and cut the cake into 12 equal wedges (I actually only cut mine into 8 – but 12 is much better. These wedges will really form the lines where you cut the cake, and it is RICH. One person seriously cannot eat a 1/8 slice of this cake!).

3.Place the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan and stir to dissolve. Bring to boil, and once the sugar crystals are dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high boil, and do not stir. Swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and wash down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush. Boil until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.

4. Make sure you have a oiled spatula ready for this – the toffee can set quickly. Pour your toffee over your cake layer. 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), move the wedges of the cake apart and divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, Use the knife to move the excess toffee away from the covered wedges.

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

Dobos Torte

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.

2. On the tray/plate you will present the torte on, place your first sponge layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with the remaining 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 (and optionally, a small piped rosette buttercream) under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. 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 (though they’re lovely straight out of the fridge!)

Dobos Torte


This cake kept very well for a few days refridgerated. It was as good on day 2 as the day it was made.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

News Round-up: Giving up Coffeine, Cooking IN a Car, and Some Egg-cellent news!

I was going to say that it's not often I do this, but in fact, I've never done this! I've read a few excellent news articles and blogs recently that I just felt the need to share. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!


Diary of Caffeine Addict!
Read the diary of a caffeine addict going cold-turkey for a week; I'm not sure I would have made it that far! (Now pass my latte!)

Sydney's Best Eggs
What makes a good egg, and can you taste the difference between free-range and caged? I'm not going to start buying caged-eggs, regardless of the outcome, but it's an interesting article!

Leader of the Soup Pack
3 of Sydney's top chefs interpret a basic soup pack with 3 very different meals! There's so much you can do with just some of the basics.

I'm sure we've all (well I have, anyway) made the excuse that we don't have the time to cook, but Katie Bills from The Independent proves it wrong. Some quick, tasty, cheap recipes!

Food on the go
This is one of my favourites! Lorraine over at Not Quite Nigella cooks up an environmentally friendly, vegetarian, meal... IN a car... a car ENGINE.

Anyhow, happy reading, and I hope you enjoy!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate Macarons

The first time I attempted macarons they broke me. There were literally tears. Tears, and a stack of leftover rosewater buttercream.

It was awhile before I felt ready to talk about it, but I think I'm there now. 2 batches of macarons that actually look like macarons later, and I'm feeling a lot better.

Oh, when I pulled these out of the oven I nearly fell over from shock. I called my mother in a daze, speechless. I could only manage "Macarons... ACTUAL macarons... WORKED".

Now, they were not perfect by any means, but they were macarons, and these sweet, dense, chewy pillows of almond meringue are well worth the HEARTACHE they had previously caused.

The actual process of making the macarons isn't overly complicated, they're just temperamental. I think a large part is knowing your oven. My oven runs cold, and whilst it seems like overkill, I had to cook my shells for an extra 10 minutes more than instructed before the innards of the macarons stopped being liquid (it once took me 2 hours more than prescribed to cook a cake!).

The below recipe is originally from the fabulous Queen of Macarons, Helen of Tartelette, and with further instruction from incredible Audax of Audax Artifax. The extra detail he goes into (in everything!) is unbelievable.

As far as I understand, you need a kitchen scale. These are temperamental at the best of times, and the recipe really is done by weight.

Chocolate Macarons

Makes: this should make about 20-25 sandwiched macarons, you just need to get the hang of piping them out consistently.



For the Macarons:

90g eggwhites, aged for 2 days (this is about 3 eggs) *
60g of castor (superfine) sugar
110g almond meal (ground almonds)
200g icing sugar
1/2 tspn cornflour (optional)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

* if you don't want, or don't have time, to age the eggwhites 2 days, put them in your microwave on lo-mid setting, for about 15 seconds. Audax instructs that this simulates the aging effect. I did mine in two 10 second bursts on power setting 3.

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

This buttercream recipe has been adapted from a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

1 egg
50g white sugar
30g dark chocolate, finely chopped
65g unsalted butter, at room temperature
(I normally don’t worry too much about using salted butter, but you NEED unsalted for this. It does need to be soft – a knife should run through it with very little resistance.)


For the Macarons:

1. Line an upturned cookie sheet with baking paper/parchment. I've had great success using double stacked trays (2 cookies sheets stacked on top of each other). It allows the bottoms to cook slower, so you get a better result.

2. In a food processor, pulse the almond meal, icing sugar, cocoa powder and cornflour to combine, and get out any lumps. Put the mixture aside. If you don't have a food processor, you could sift the ingredients.

3. In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggwhites till they start to foam, and become bubbly. This doesn't mean till they start to turn white, just bubbly.

4. Gradually add in the castor sugar, beating constantly. Continue to beat until the meringue becomes thick and glossy. Stop beating as soon as the meringue reaches the point where you can upturn the bowl without the mixture falling out. I started beating in 10 second pulses and checking as it approached this point.

5. Add the almond mixture to the meringue, and fold to combine, using no more than 50 strokes. You can work quickly at first, and be a little less careful, to get rid of excess air, but you do not want to deflate the mixture.

Helen says to stop when the mixture "flows like lava", which I love! You are done when any peaks in the mixture flatten out in 30 seconds.

To test this, you can spoon a teaspoon of the mix onto a saucer, and watch. If not quite there, give a couple more strokes and yet again. It is better to have a few too few strokes than too many. Remember that you will be piping the mixture, which will lose a little more air.

6. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a plain tip, and, holding the bag about half an inch above the baking tray, pipe 1.5" (3cm) rounds onto the tray, about 1.5" apart.

Piped out Macarons

7. Preheat the oven to 175C (conventional), and put the macarons aside for30-60 minutes to harden their shells (this is somewhat optional. As I understand, it will yield better results, but I have put mine straight in the oven with no problems whatsoever).

8. Turn the oven down to 160C and bake the macarons for 15 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool. To remove from the sheets, I gently peel back the paper. If you have difficulty, you can run some water under the sheet and quickly remove (so they do not go soggy).

Stack of Macarons

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

1. Prepare a double-boiler – a small saucepan of water, with a medium sized bowl that fits snugly over the top. Quarter fill the saucepan with water and bring to a simmer.

2. Add the egg and sugar to the bowl, and whisk until thick and pale, this will take a few minutes. A hand beater will make this much easier!

3. Place the bowl with the egg and sugar mixture over the saucepan, and continue to beat until you see the mixture start to thicken further, for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate, and continue to whisk over heat for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Once cooled, beat in the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, until it is all incorporated. You will be left with a thick, rich buttercream. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

To assemble:

Either pipe, or spoon, a teaspoon of buttercream between two evenly shaped/sized macaron shells, and gently press together. And voila, macarons!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rice with Mushrooms, Chicken and Artichokes - Daring Cooks August '09

Rice with Mushrooms, Chicken and Artichokes

The last month has just flown by, and after missing a challenge, it's Daring Cooks time again! This month's challenge was hosted by Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes, and she chose Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes. The recipe is by by José Andrés, and important Spanish chef.

I was looking forward to this challenge, but this month got away from me. By the time I had a chance to start it was 7pm on a weeknight, and the it got rushed. The challenge was to include a homemade Allioli (or Aoli, depending on what you like to call it), and whilst mine didn't look right, the sauce combined with the rice dish was lovely.

The dish is full of flavour, tasty, and unpretentious (which I love in 'chefy' dishes). It does take time to prepare, though, and I wouldn't suggest it (or try it again) late on a weeknight!

Like all things this month, this post is rushed, too. So, the recipe, in the lovely Olga's own words, can be found here, on her blog. She has provided some fantastic links, with great info, that I highly reccomend reading/or watching. I substituted my cuttlefish for chicken, and used vegetable stock. The veg. stock is brownish, though, so note that you won't get the lovely bright yellow colour you might otherwise expect from a saffron infused dish.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WildBrumby Schnapps Distillery, Cafe & Cellar Door

Wild Brumby Distillery

As far as I’m concerned, skiing is the most fun you can have standing up... or with your face buried in the snow. That one was a VERY spectacular fall. I don’t think I’ll ever be allowed to live it down.

But it's not just the skiing that keeps drawing us back to NSW’s spectacular Snowy Mountains. The area has a lure for hubby and me, and we can’t seem to stay away for too long. Not only do we have gorgeous countryside and fantastic snow (when it comes); but there are some of the loveliest and most charming restaurants you can imagine.

As I’ve previously mentioned (*ahem*, perhaps gushed), the area, its surrounds, and its places, hold a very special place in my heart, and we were lucky enough to be back down there this weekend just passed.

It was during this trip that we visited the Wild Brumby Distillery. I'd heard about it a couple of times, and our interest piqued enough to head out there, and we were well rewarded.

Wild Brumby Distillery Grounds

The property is a picturesque block of alpine farm land. Sheep were grazing along the driveway up to the café building, lazily moving out of the way car as we neared, and the yard was dotted with examples of local sculpture.

Wild Brumby Distillery

Greeted by the very friendly staff, the distillery café was warm and welcoming from the moment we entered. We were soon offered a complimentary schnapps tasting, and who can say "no" to free schnapps?

Wild Brumby Distillery

I (and every man and his dog) have tried butterscotch schnapps before, but theirs sure was special. All the flavour without any of the saccharine sweetness and cloying aftertaste. Some other favourites were the Pink Lady Apple, Sour Apple and Lemon, and my favourite: 'Devil's Tongue'. OK, so, I am not a big chilli person. Upon being told this was chilli Schnapps, I chickened out and said no. Hubby did try this (I may have pinched some...) and it was remarkable. Chilli combined with pink lady apple and cinnaman combine to make this truly unique.

'Cowboy Butterscotch', Wild Brumby Distillery

Moving along to the shop, we were confronted with more schnapps than I've seen in my whole life. According to Wild Brumby's website. Bottles started at around $30 for a 18.5% 500ml bottle, going up from there for 40% bottles of schnapps like 'Obstler' (apple and pear). Their kosciuszko vodka 101 50.5% is also available.

We decided to stop for a quick meal and were treated to a cosy table right next to fireplace, and looking through the huge ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking the property.

The café is smallish, seating around 25 from my count, giving it a friendly, warm, intimate atmosphere. It was never loud or crowded, even though busy, and the staff were tentative and helpful.

Hot Chocolate

Being wintry weather we couldn't go past a hot chocolate, and not only that, a hot chocolate with schnapps! Tony's Estate coffee was also on offer, along with a range of incredibly pretty cakes and biscuits. I ordered an Hot Chocolate with Cowboy Butterscotch, and, what to do when you want both, talked Nick into getting his with Devil's Tongue. We decided to split a bowl of Potato Wedges with Mustard Aoli.

Our impressive (and HUGE) hot chocolates arrived first, and after oohing, aahing, and photo taking, they didn't last that long. The chocolate/butterscotch and chocolate/chilli combination is a winner. A short wait later our wedges arrived, and pretty they were. The Mustard Aoli, was, in short, awesome. During our meal we saw the Beef Ragu brought out to a neighbouring table and could have stayed for a not-so-light meal!

Wedges, Wild Brumby Distillery

With our meal over (at a very reasonable price) we were back off to Sydney, leaving the distillery behind, and I tell you what, I can't wait to get back!

Getting There:

Phone: (02) 6457 1447

Thredbo Valley Distillery
Cnr of Wollondibby Rd & the Alpine Way, Jindabyne NSW 2627, Australia
You can also take a 360 degree virtual tour of the property here.

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