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 Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
The Dobos Torte is a five-layer sponge cake filled with layers of chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. Hazelnuts can also be used for the finishing touches, but since I’m allergic, I just left them out. I have to admit that I was intimidated by this one – I procrastinated until Tuesday before I finally attempted it! However, despite a few sticky situations here and there, I conquered it…and one taste of this delicious torte made it well worth the effort.
Sponge cake (5 layers)
- 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sifted cake flour
- Pinch of salt
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup ultrafine or superfine white sugar
- 4 ounces bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 sticks plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup superfine or ultrafine white sugar
- 12 Tbsp water
- 8 tsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp neutral oil
First, rearrange your oven racks if need be to the top and center thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Tear off six pieces of parchment paper to fit your baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9″ springform pan, trace circles on the parchment paper with a pencil.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup powdered sugar, and vanilla on high speed until the mixture is thick.
Clean off the beaters and in a different medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add in the remaining 2/3 cup powdered sugar gradually, beating until stiff peaks form. Using a large rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
Fold in the remainder. Combine the flour and salt.
Pour half the flour mixture over the eggs and fold it in. Repeat with the remaining flour.
Line one of the baking sheets with a sheet of the parchment paper. Using a small spatula, spread about 3/4 cup of batter into the circle area on the paper. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed in the center and the edges are lightly browned. I recommend baking a little longer than 5 minutes, since my layers did not come off the parchment paper easily unless they were a little more firm.
Repeat the process on the second oven rack, moving the bottom cake layer to the top rack when the layer on the top is done. Invert the baked cake layer on to a flat surface, and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Place the cake layer back on the parchment paper until cool. If using the same baking sheet, run it under cold water to cool it down before baking with it again. Repeat until you have made 6 layers. Cool them completely, and then trim each layer into a neat round.
To make the chocolate buttercream, prepare a double-boiler with water and bring to a boil. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thickened. Lower the heat to simmer, and then pour the egg mixture into the double-boiler. Cook 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. Whisk in the chocolate and cook, whisking constantly, until the chocolate has completely melted.
Move chocolate mixture to a bowl to cool, then beat in the soft butter a little at a time. The buttercream should be very thick. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
To make the caramel topping, choose the best cake layer for the top, and place it on a jellyroll pan. Cut the cake layer into 12 wedges. Lightly oil a spatula.
Stir the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, turn the heat to high and boil without stirring until the syrup turns into an amber-colored caramel (mine was still somewhat clear, so I don’t think I boiled it long enough – ah well). Next, pour the hot caramel over the cake layer. Using the spatula, quickly spread the caramel to cover the entire layer. Let cool completely.
To assemble the dobos, divide the buttercream into six equal parts. On a cardboard round or cake pedestal, lay down the first cake layer. Spread the layer with some of the chocolate buttercream. Repeat for the remaining layers, and then spread the rest of the buttercream on the side of the torte. Arrange the wedges on top of the cake. Refrigerate until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature before serving.