Daring Bakers: Dobos Torte
I recently joined Daring Bakers in an attempt to expand my baking repetoire, and August was the first month that I participated in the recipe challenge. Basically, how Daring Bakers works is that on the first of each month, they post a recipe and if you’re a member you have to bake the recipe and post on your blog (or on the DB website) on the 27thof that month.
I was pretty excited to do my first recipe challenge, but when I found out what the recipe was (a Hungarian Dobos torte), I approached it with a bit of trepidation. Not only was I supposed to make my own caramel (what?!?), real butter cream frosting (mixing butter and powdered sugar wouldn’t cut it), and a 5-layer cake, but my experience with desserts from that part of the world is not the best. I lived in Eastern Europe for 2 years with when I was in Peace Corps and I’ve also traveled quite a bit throughout the area. I’ve found most desserts to be too sweet, or they look really nice and fancy and then they taste like cardboard. Not fun.
That being said, I thought this cake turned out relatively well, given the degree of difficulty and my inexperience with fancy baking. The first step was to make the cake layers, which were made almost entirely out of eggs, flour and sugar. Easy enough.
Then I made the chocolate buttercream frosting. I love frosting. Like eat-it-out-of-the-bowl-and-who-cares love it. I thought this turned out well, first a first-timer, but next time I’ll use better chocolate (I used Nestle semi-sweet chips… oops) and less sugar. I was a little nervous about rigging up a double broiler since I don’t have a heat-proof bowl, but using 2 different sized sauce pans I was able to work something out. There is nothing quite like a good frosting….
After that there was only one thing left to do: make the caramel, pour it over a layer of cake and somehow turn it into pretty wedges. Yikes. I put a layer of cake on a cookie sheet covered with parchment and cut it into 12 (not-so-equal) slices. I had everything set up so I could work as fast as possible once I poured the sugar on the cake: there was a bowl full of hot water with a knife and spatula inside warming up and a pastry brush in a little bowl full of oil to coat the utensils so they wouldn’t stick. I also memorized that part of the recipe so I wouldn’t have to go and check what I was supposed to do next, losing precious time in which the caramel would harden in the process. WAY too much work, as far as I was concerned. Once the sugar mixture was amber-ish I poured it on the cake, spread it around with my warm oiled spatula and then cut it as it started to harden. The cutting part wasn’t working at all using the hot oiled knife, and I getting the hardened little sugar chunks everywhere (even between my toes. It was ridiculous). I turned to my pizza slicer, which I seem to be using a lot these days for things besides cutting pizza. It did the trick, and I was able to separate my caramel-covered cake wedges.
They original recipe called for hazelnuts, of which I had none, but I had a big bag of pecans in the freezer. Pecans it was. Next I toasted them up and crushed the pecans so I could put them on the sides of the cake. Next step: putting the cake together. It wasn’t too hard, just layering cake and frosting and coating the sides in pecans. The trick to coating the sides of a cake and not getting the coating and frosting everywhere is to put 4 rectangular pieces of parchment paper along the sides, just under the cake (thanks, Paula Deen). After you put on the coating, you can slide out the parchment paper and all the frosting on the paper and the coating that fell down slides away!
Then I placed the caramel/cake wedges on top, with a pecan half place under it to elevate it just a little. Voila!
The cake is tasty and it looks pretty, but honestly, I don’t think it’s a cake I’d make again because it took so long. Maybe if I was more used to working with hot sugar and making buttercream frosting it would be easier, but as it is, I’d rather have some chocolate cake anyways 🙂 Plus, I’m at a total loss for how to eat the caramel/cake on the top. It was rock hard and the only way I could eat it was to pick it up with my fingers and munch on it. The caramel wedges on top softened after about a day in the fridge, so I could easily cut into them with my fork. The crunchy texture was a nice contrast to the fluffiness of the cake. I’ll probably save the buttercream recipe for the future and use it with other recipes because it was really good.
The recipe is extremely long and involved (and I’m lazy), so if you’re interested in it, you can email me at email@example.com!