Week 6 Showstopper: Dobos Torte

European Cake Week ended with a Hungarian cake known as a dobos torte. Created in the late 1800’s, it is a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and then topped with caramel. The sides of the cake have been traditionally coated with ground nuts. The bakers were asked to make a “contemporary” version with at least two tiers. In addition, the bakers were instructed to focus on caramel/sugar work for decoration.

Authentic Dobos Torte (Hungarian Dobos Cake Recipe in 21 Steps)

The Plan

For me, “contemporary” here is referring primarily to the appearance, especially considering the emphasize on sugar work. I’ll be using this recipe from Food52 for the sponge and frosting (mmm coffee). However I also included ideas from this baker in regard to decor. I’m actually most worried about the sugar work, as hot sugar can be dangerous and result in burns. I’ve also struggled with caramel in the past…

The Bake

  1. The Sponge

These European cakes have such weird batters! The egg whites were whipped separately from the batter containing a ton of egg yolks. The egg whites were folded into the thick batter. Thankfully this made it east to spread in the pans.

2. The Bake

The first few sponges were difficult. I tried greasing the pan and dusting with flour, which worked much better than parchment paper. The sponge tasted good, but I actually think my “thin” layer wasn’t thin enough so I ended up with only a few layers instead of the 12 I expected.

3. The Buttercream

Oh gosh. I have never struggled so badly with a buttercream. Buttercream is not my friend but I got impatient. I didn’t wait for the chocolate/coffee mix to cool enough. It was a whole 30 minutes and it was still hot! I tried putting in the butter and it melted. Adding more butter managed to make it slightly less liquid, but essentially I poured the frosting onto the cake.

4. The Assembly

With thick layers and liquid buttercream, let’s just say the assembly was a disaster. I think the image speaks for itself.

5. Decoration

I hoped to make pretty sugar work. I have no idea how brittle gets cut into pretty triangles… The brittle took forever to make and it was still a little chewy. I’m not 100% if I messed up or maybe it was just more humid that day? I was so exhausted I gave up on spinning sugar.

Final Thoughts

My husband and I tried this. It went better than the Princess cake but it was still a hot mess. He called it the cake equivalent of someone who wasn’t pretty but had a “good personality.” The buttercream had a nice coffee flavor mingled with the chocolate. The sponge was very light and sweet. Together it was nice, but it was hard to eat. Props to me for managing some semblance of layers!

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