I’m back from California, and after I recover from the travel part (which was horrendously awful) and get a chance to go through all the photos I took of food, I’ll have some posts about the awesome restaurants I visited in California… but in the meantime, you can hear all about my birthday cake 🙂
I turned 28 a few weeks ago, and it required a cake. Since baking is pretty much my favorite pass-time, I was more than happy to bake it myself – it meant I got exactly what I wanted and I also got to have the fun of doing it. I came across this recipe for Dobos Torte on Smitten Kitchen, where Deb had made it for her own recent birthday, and I immediately promised I’d make it for myself. So I did 😉A Dobos Torte is apparently Hungarian in origin, and is composed of layers of thin sponge cake filled and frosted with creamy, buttery, chocolate frosting. What makes it really fancy-looking (in addition to the striped layered effect you get when you slice it) are caramel-covered sponge cake pieces on the top of the cake. It didn’t really do a lot for me flavour-wise, but it looked really cool and the crunchy hard caramel was a nice contrast from the soft spongy cake and rich creamy frosting.I served this to a bunch of friends and it got huge rave reviews, including, “This is the best cake you’ve ever made!” It very well might have been – it was seriously delicious. The cake was sweet but not overly-so, and the frosting was like I’d dipped the cake in chocolate truffle. And it wasn’t that hard to make, either. You can bake the entire thing in one large pan, then cut it in pieces, layer them up with frosting, and top it with the caramel. The original post on Smitten Kitchen gives a bunch of variations on pan size and shape, so head on over there if you’re interested. I used a 12″ x 17″ pan and cut the cake into six pieces – five layers inside the cake and one caramel layer on top.
Makes one 8″ x 3″ x 4″ rectangular cake, about 10-12 servings (thin slices are plenty!)
Note: this recipe requires 13 eggs total (separated into 13 yolks and 7 whites)
Preheat the oven to 450˚ F and place a rack in the center. Line the bottom of a 12″ x 17″ sheet pan/jelly roll pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the whole thing. Set aside.
10 egg yolks
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
7 egg whites
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the 10 egg yolks on high speed until thick and lemon-coloured. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar, little by little, starting at low speed and increasing to high. Add in the flour and beat on high, stopping occasionally to scrape the bowl. The texture of the batter will change from nice and creamy to the approximate texture of drywall spackel. Don’t worry, this is supposed to happen. Mix for 5 minutes, then beat in the lemon juice.Clean off the whisk attachment very well and beat the 7 egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. This may mean you have to scrape the spackle/batter into another bowl and wash the original one out very well (if there is any fat (ie, egg yolks) on the beater or in the bowl, the egg whites won’t whip up properly). Fold a few spoonfuls of the whipped egg whites into the spackle to lighten it – this will seem impossible, but have patience and keep folding. Fold in the rest of the egg whites in 3 additions. I folded the first few additions in with a spatula, and the last few with a whisk. Your spackle should have transformed into a foamy batter.Pour the batter onto the prepared pan and spread it evenly into the corners using an offset spatula. Bake at 450˚ F for 5 – 9 minutes, until baked in the center and golden brown on top with some dark spots. When the cake is baked, dust the top with confectioner’s sugar and invert it onto a cooling rack. Lift off the baking pan (it might take a minute or two for the cake to peel itself out of the pan), remove the parchment paper, and dust the bottom surface with more confectioner’s sugar. Invert it again onto another cooling rack and let the cake cool.
(Includes raw egg yolks, so if you’re worried, you can make a chocolate ganache frosting instead. It’s important to use 70% dark chocolate in the frosting so as not to overwhelm the cake with sweetness.)
1 cup butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
1/2 lb dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids), chopped
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
Melt the chocolate until smooth and set aside to cool. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, then the chocolate and confectioner’s sugar, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat on high for several minutes until lighter in colour and very creamy.
When the cake is cool, trim the edges, then cut it in half lengthwise. Cut each half into three rectangles to get six pieces (I used a tape measure to be as accurate as possible). Reserve the most unblemished piece for the caramel layer. Protect your serving plate with four strips of waxed paper, and lay the first cake layer on top. Spread it thinly with frosting, right to the edges (about 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup is good). Repeat with the remaining four layers, then frost the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes to set the crumb coat, then spread the outside with the remaining frosting.
The Caramel Layer:
Lightly grease a piece of parchment paper and place the last piece of cake on it. Grease an offset spatula and the blade of a large chef’s knife. Set aside.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp water
Combine the above in a small, heavy sauce pan and heat over medium-high to high heat, swirling the pan constantly. The sugar mixture should be bubbling. Keep swirling until it turns a light amber colour, then, working quickly, pour it over the cake layer on the parchment paper (you might not need all of it). With the greased offset spatula, spread the caramel to cover the whole piece of cake, then let it set for a few seconds. Cut it into wedges with the greased chef’s knife, and let it cool completely. Cut it again and clean up the edges. Place the wedges decoratively on top of the frosted cake, propped up on toasted hazelnuts.Chill the cake until ready to eat. If you want to cover it (lightly) in plastic wrap, place a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper over the caramel pieces first, otherwise they will stick to the plastic. Cut in 10 – 12 thin slices to serve.