Daring Bakers Challenge – Dobos Torta

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.



I held off baking this magnificent item until the last child was out the doorway and the hubby was aboard an aircraft.  I knew this challenge would push me beyond my comfort zone, but isn’t that the reason we are Daring Baker’s?  Let us go where we do not feel familiar and set up shop in the world(s) of the awesome endeavors.

This month’s offering did just that.

Having never made caramel, nor a sponge cake as thin and creative as this, I found myself a bit overwhelmed by the learning curve set before me.    The cake dough was easy enough, but it was the butter-cream and the caramel that proved the most daunting.

I failed horribly at my butter-cream.   It was runny, and although tasty, did not form well even after a lengthy chill.  The caramel, beautiful amber and clearly appetizing, did nothing but frustrate me.  Angela tells us to work quickly, and provides us with excellent tips on how to tame this tiger, but none-the-less, I found myself anxious and sweating bullets while attempting to smooth it against the sponge.  No matter how feverishly I worked, the sponge and the caramel fought for the upper hand.  Finally, exasperated and overwhelmed, I did my best to console myself that at least I hadn’t given up, walked away, and condemned my own kitchen.   After all was said and done, there was more caramel on the counter-tops, sinks and the stove-top than either of my two small tortes.


I do want to thank Angela (www.aspoonfulofsugar.net/wp/) and Lorraine (www.NotQuiteNigella.com) for their offering of this grand dessert.  These wonderful ladies gave me an opportunity to push-the-envelope on my creative endeavors and helped me build some new skills (and admiration for those that tackle them).  I’ve got a learning curve, but at least I can say I made a foray into caramel and butter-cream.  Before today, neither of those items flanked my arsenal of ‘Know-How’s, and if I might add, for as many cupcakes and cakes that I bake, I HAVE NEVER made a true butter-cream.    I use a heavy hand of confectioners sugar and loads of butter, but eggs?  I be chicken….I still be chicken, but now I am a Daring Chicken.  ;)

Also, thanks to our dear and present leaders of the pack, Lisa, http://llcskitchen.blogspot.com/ and Ivonne, http://www.creampuffsinvenice.ca/ .   They are responsible for giving us this fantastic mode of travel into culinary wonder.  They help us to create magic, build friendships and conquer new territories.  I am forever grateful to both of you.  :)


P1110459Trial By Fire

making the sponge:

  • 6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner’s sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup, plus two tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (can substitute 95g of plain flour + 17g cornflour (sifted & combined)
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner’s sugar, the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high until item is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted.  This should take about 3 minutes.

Using another bowl and clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner’s sugar until the egg whites form stiff and shiny peaks.  Next, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, using a large rubber spatula.  Now, fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible.  Combine flour and salt and sift halve over the eggs, fold in, then repeat with the remaining flour.

Pipe or form an approximate 1/4 cup of batter in an even layer atop a cut and fashioned piece of parchment (I used a small spring-form base as my template).  Smooth this layer with a small offset spatula.  Proceed filling parchment singles until your baking sheet is filled.  (I was able to bake six at a time).  Bake in the oven for five full minutes, remove and allow to cool briefly before peeling back the parchment.  (My parchment scores did double-duty; I used them consecutive times).  While these items continue to cool, set another pan of lined sheets into the oven and bake then for their five minute time period.  Continue to bake in batches until all of your sponge dough has been utilized.

Allow cakes to thoroughly cool on a baking rack.  Once they have, move them to a cleaned workspace.  Waxed paper or parchment is good.  Your next step will be to frost these with butter-cream.


An ice cream scoop works well to load the parchment.  A small offset spatula helps to spread the dough:


Why does this lady not clean her equipment properly?  Oh, but she does!  The pan is simply as old as the old woman:


Cooling and prepping for the next stage:


God’s way of making life tolerable when the warmonger from Hades shows his face:

P1110431Chocolate Header

Almost, but not quite, as wonderful as chocolate:



Chocolate Butter-cream:

  • 4 large eggs that are at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
  • 4 oz. (112g) bakers chocolate, finally chopped
  • 2 sticks, plus 2 Tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, room temperature

Prepare a double boiler by filling a large saucepan one quarter of the way full.

Beat eggs with sugar until pale and thickened.  This will take approximately five minutes.  You can use a balloon whisk or an electric hand mixer.  I chose to use my stand mixer using my stainless steel bowl atop the heated water for the following:

Fit bowl over boiling water, but do not allow water to touch the bowl.  Lower your heat so that you have a nice, brisk simmer.  Whisk eggs constantly as you cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken.  Follow this by whisking the finely chopped chocolate and continue to cook, while stirring, for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium-sized bowl and allow it to cool to room temperate before proceeding.


Setting the stage for frosting:


I should have stopped here, returned the bowl to the stove top, and went for the making of a chocolate pudding:


When it has cooled, beat in the soft butter, a small piece at a time (about 2 tablespoons increments).  You should end up with a thick and velvety chocolate butter-cream.  Place this into your refrigerator and proceed to making the caramel.


Awe heck!  Add the butter, anyway, and prepare for a lovely shade of, What color?:


Caramel topping:

  • 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
  • 12 Tablespoon (180ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40ml) lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon of a neutral-based oil (sunflower, grape-seed or rice bran will work)

Choose your best-looking cake layer for the caramel top.

Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper, buttering the paper.  Place the reserved cake layer on the paper and score the cake into 6 equal-sized wedges.  Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and a small offset spatula.

Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan, bringing it to a boil over medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar.  Once a smooth syrup has developed, turn the heat up to high and boil WITHOUT STIRRING, swirling your pan by the handle occasionally, and washing down any sugar crystals that may be collecting on the sides of the pan (use a wet pastry brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-looking caramel).

The top layer

is perhaps the most difficult aspect of this entire recipe.  Be prepared with an oiled (buttered) spatula and scoring knife at hand.  Also, we are warned to have our cake layers at room temp.  A cold layer could seize our caramel before we ever have the chance to spread it!

The recipe will provide more than an ample amount of caramel for your one (or two cakes), and, therefore plan to create a few caramel coated nuts or other miscellaneous deco’s for your cake with the excess.

Once caramel is ready to spread, work quickly AND safely.  I found that by pouring the caramel atop a scored layer I could manage it a bit better than if I had tried using a spoon to coat the cake/nuts.  Whichever method you choose, be careful:



Oh goody!  It’s time to make caramel and redecorate the kitchen surface(s):



That girl is pretty, even if I don’t own a saw strong enough to slice her.  (Oh, wait a minute, I forgot I own a chainsaw….I’ll be right back):



Candied hazelnuts:



 No matter how I tried to shoot it, these little ladies were fed up with me and wanted nothing more than to be free of the wild woman attempting their capture:


Assembly of the Dobos Torta:

The Dobos Torta is generally a five-layer sponge cake (I simply can’t keep track when assembling…oops!),  filled with a decadent chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel (if you’re lucky… ;) ).

Gather your baked sponges and begin icing them by spreading a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of each layer.  Spread evenly using an offset spatula to coat an even layer of butter-cream.  Stack each layer atop one another until you have completed five iced layers.  Next, spread a layer of buttercream on the sides of the assembled torte and smooth evenly.  You can also press chopped hazelnuts into the sides for added decoration.  Use unchopped hazelnuts to place wedges of caramel atop the torte, fashioning each wedge at an angle, ending with a sproke pattern upon completion.  Refrigerate your cake under a cake dome until the icing is set.  This should take about two hours.  Prepare tortes for your enjoyment by allowing them to come to room temperature.  This allows for optimum flavor.


Layered  and ready to munch….darn, I’m on that danged diet!  :(   sniff, sniff, sniff.  Hubby reports that it’s scrumptious.  Does that count?  ;)


A special thank-you to Rick Rodgers for his amazing book:  Kaffehaus


~ by coffeegrounded on August 27, 2009.

15 Responses to “Daring Bakers Challenge – Dobos Torta”

  1. Ms.’TheBakeMore’…oh, I know exactly what you are saying. I kept saying to myself, “Well, I wonder how badly I’m going to burn myself?” (NOT A GOOD SIGN!) Thank goodness for those two fire-proof mitts my auntie gave me last month. ;)


  2. Love the candied hazlenuts. I had problems with the carmel too! Problems, ha, ha, ha. More like, “No Mr. Fireman, I have it all under control now.”


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