Dobos over the Danube : Daring Bakers Aug 09

Thursday, August 27, 2009

small dobos torte
Challenge number two and I went for style over substance this time around.

But first:
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugarand 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.

And I think in my overexcited state when posting my first ever Daring Baker’s Challenge, I may have not have observed proper blogger etiquette. (I’m pleading noob status ok?). So a big thank you goes out to Lisa of La Mia CUcina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice founders of the Daring Bakers.

What is a Dobos Torte? According to the information supplied by our lovely hostesses : “The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties”

Even though the initial recipe looked extremely daunting, it was actually quite a simple cake to assemble if broken down into parts. First make the sponge (which could be refrigerated or frozen), then the buttercream, then the caramel.

I’d never tasted a Dobos Torte before, so first time round I followed each part of the recipe exactly, just downsized the portions to create a mini-5 layer torte. I’m glad I did this because I found the buttercream too rich and sweet and I’m really not that into caramel.

Then it was time to play experiment. Inspired by a comment on the DB forums about “leaning towers of Dobos”, I started thinking about landmarks. What better landmark to attempt than the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge? Then I thought – but it’s a Hungarian cake! So a quick Google and I found an image for a bridge in Hungary : the Chain Bridge.

harbour bridge torte 1

harbour bridge torte 2
Here is my attempt at bridging the gap (groan all you want) between two cultures – a Hungarian cake built by a Sydneysider. (I was really keen to make the Malaysian Twin Towers as well, but then I ran out of steam).

Instead of buttercream, I used a Sour Cream Ganache (fitting for a Hungarian cake yes?) and I was going to add paprika to the caramel too, but I forgot. I probably should have brushed the sponge layers with a bit of syrup or liquer too, but the sponge is surprisingly fluffy and not as dry as it looks. A container full of the deconstructed bridge that I sent off to hubby’s workplace came back sparklingly empty so I guess there were no complaints.

chain bridge torte1chain bridge torte2

The following is a brief description of how I made the bridges, I hope it’s clear enough but feel free to email me if you want a longer explanation.. Please take a peek at what the other Daring Bakers have come up with too .

layers of torte
First bake the sponge layers on large sheet pans. The cut out the layers using a template (I used folded up baking paper to make a rectangle that would fit this pan). Assemble the layers of sponge and ganache in a baking pan lined with plastic wrap. After all the layers are done, cover with wrap and place in fridge for half an hour or so to firm up - this helps with the cutting

making the shapesUsing baking paper shapes as a guide, cut out the required shapes to build required landmark. Top with more ganache and hazelnuts and caramel shapes.

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 (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
* 1⁄2 cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. 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:

NB. 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.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

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.


Nidhi said...

WOW! What fabulous job! Neat idea......loved seeing all your bridges.

Anh said...

You have done well! Wow!

shez said...

That's hilarious! (Like brilliant hilarious, not laughing-at hilarious). I love what you've done with the torta, especially the happy sunshine rays you've made from the toffee covered cake over your dobos-harbour-bridge.


Marcellina said...

Fantastic bridge cake! How clever are you!

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

That is just sooo brilliant!! WOW! WOW!WOW!

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

HA HA Shaz...I ♥ it! You are a creative genius & I love the way you bridged the gap!! lady you are FAR OUT!! Much love!!

Liz said...

How fun! I think a sour cream ganache sounds delicious with this cake--I wasn't in love with the buttercream either. Beautiful bridge!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, you are an artist! That bridge-shaped cake is so awesome! Great job!



Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

You've made my day with your Opera House Dobos! I've seen a lot of creativity but you hit the ball out of the ballpark with this one! Bravo darling! :)

Audax said...

Now that is a wonderful idea and you did so many love all of them and the Sydney Harbour Brigde is great (I live in Sydney). You are a genius this is such a great effort. Lovely work and very memorable.

OBTW there will be a Sydney meetup of Daring Bakers' on the 20 SEP at Newtown Rail station and then onto a nearby cafe you are welcomed if you want to come along. Contact me on
audaxartifex[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au if you want to come along and enjoy the fun.

Ellie said...

Bawahahahahaha!!! Love your harbour bridge creation! My jaw was dropped looking at it. Very very well done!!

shaz said...

Thanks everyone! You guys have all made such awesome Dobos...I knew I wouldn't really be able to do an elegant version, so I went wacky instead :P

shaz said...

PS - it looks like a lot but I actually cut the components for both bridges from the same large pan - if I remember correctly, I either made 1.5 or 2x the original sponge recipe.

Little Miss Cupcake said...

Too cute - what an inspired idea! Great job!

Julia @ Mélanger said...

OHHHHH MYYYYY! That has to be the best torte I've seen. What an amazing idea. What patience! :) Great work.

Hilda said...

Oh I love this! I'm a civil/environmental engineer by training so I have a secret love for bridges and buildings and architecture in general. I'm sure yours is by far the most creative version of all of us! and to answer your question, with buttercream I do a first coat to prevent crumbs from mixing with it, refrigerate to firm up, then a second coat for the outer layer, refrigerate to firm up, and then smooth out with a warm spatula.

maybelle's mom said...

ah, i love, love, love the bridges. i am always a fan of style over substance.

linda said...

LOL That is one AWESOME cake! It's soo creative! You've actually incorporated every aspect of the original recipe and presented a masterpiece. I can just imagine how fun it would have been to eat the tortas.

Aran said...

oh wow...!!

pragmaticattic said...

Wow!!!!! I love it!!!! Such a stupendously fabulous idea and great execution.

Lauren said...

Wow!! Your cakes are stunning. I love the creativity you had with them =D.

Angry Asian said...

i LOVE it. what an ingenius and positively well thought out creation.

Grace said...

bridging the gap? oh, you are a card, shaz. what a magnificent job you've done on this challenge. this is by far the most impressive attempt i've seen--bravo!

Hungry Dog said...

You never cease to impress me! :)

Juliana said...

Love your creativity...and the torte looks delicious!

shaz said...

Thanks again all of you wonderfully kind people! I just set out to have some fun and it worked - I guess if it didn't work I would still have had a story to tell eh?

@ Hilda - thanks for the icing tip. (Hilda's made amazing looking white choc and blueberry dobos - check it out)

Engineer Baker said...

How cool is that?!? I love it! And the paprika idea sounds pretty neat as well. Oh, and I'm a Buffy girl too - watched every episode of every season. I just consider Twilight to be branching out :)

Sara said...

SO COOL!!! I love the bridge! What a creative idea...looks great! :)

shaz said...

Same here EB - my favourite episode has to be "Once more with feeling" :)

isa said...

What a fabulous cake - I love the shape! You are very creative and very talented! Great job!

peasepudding said...

Great job and very creative! I'm in Sydney next week and it would be nice if the bridge was made of Dobos Torta!

Lisa Michelle said...

Dobos Torte architecture!! I LOVE IT! Not only are your layers gorgeous, but the bridges are right on the money! I 'constructed' a 'Browniehenge' a few weeks ago, but the photos didn't turn out well. In any event, beautiful job!!! Just wait, soon they'll be contacting you to built eco-friendly houses out of sponge, caramel and frosting! :)

shaz said...

Thanks Isa!

Cheers peasepudding - hope you catch the great weather Sydney's been having.

Thanks Lisa Michelle - Browniehenge soudns like a hoot! Post! Post! Please?

morgana said...

OMG. How many layers!!!!! Your very quite creative in your presentations. Well done!!!