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