Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hungary for torte?

Is anyone else in utter disbelief that it's, basically September already? Kids are going back to school, commute is getting awful, weather is warming up (yes, that's the SF Bay Area model... what we perhaps politically INcorrectly call "Indian Summer"). I went into Michael's more than a few weeks ago now, and all I saw were Halloween decorations and Fall colors. Retail rushes the seasons, but you know what?... TIME rushes the seasons as well. Another thing that always seems to rush up on me is our Daring Baker's challenges. I still love to bake them; and love the anticipation of what we'll bake each month as I check the forums early morning on the 1st of each month. But they seem to come faster and faster!

This month we made the Hungarian Dobos Torte: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.
The Dobos Torte was introduced at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885 and was named after its creator, József C. Dobos, a well known Hungarian confectioner. Traditionally the dessert is made up of 5 layers of sponge cake with a caramel coated 6th layer adorning the top. I decided to keep it simple and aimed for them 6 layers, but the batter was enough for a 7th. So I made a Lucky 7 layer Dobos...

The Torte:
~layers of light sponge cake
~filled with dark chocolate buttercream
~topped with a caramel drenched sponge cake layer
~and garnished with nuts and buttercream

That's what beating egg yolks "until it forms a ribbon" means

It was very easy to over-bake the sponge layers. I found that they quickly went from liquid to overly browned (and chewy) within about 1 minute's time. So watching them in the oven was key.

Sponge cake layers waiting for assembly

Pieces of the cake trimmed in order to make even circles

The chocolate buttercream was definitely not my favorite part of this. While it tasted fine, it reminded me of chocolate pudding more than buttercream. It was even a bit too sweet and "milk chocolatey" tasting in light of using a very dark chocolate. I'm definitely more of a dark chocolate ganache person than a milk chocolate pudding person. I also really didn't like how soft the buttercream got within about 5 minutes of being out of the fridge. Did that mean I didn't cook my eggs long enough? I didn't want them to start curdling so I cooked to about 130°.

Mmmm - my fave Valrhona Le Noir

Blending pats of butter into the buttercream

While I LOVE caramel, I was most disappointed with this recipe. I should have known myself better than to put almost 3 tablespoons of lemon juice into the caramel. It sounded awful to me when I read it and while I even hesitated just before putting it in, I told myself I wanted to try this 'cuz what if I loved it?? Well.... I didn't. I couldn't even eat the caramel layer. It was beautiful and chewy but that lemon flavor was NOT a good partner to the chocolate.

Next time, no lemon juice in my caramel. I can't say that enough!!!

Chocolate pudding buttercream anyone?

All in all - I did not like this cake. It was edible, but I threw out all the leftovers since I never once craved a bite after my first night digging in. I can see how it'd be good with "better" components: a richer chocolate ganache and a non-citrus caramel. But I probably won't spend time perfecting it.

Almost good enough to eat...

I am always happy to try these challenges, even when I don't enjoy the finished result. I learn something from each and every one and for that reason I totally ♥ the Daring Bakers!! Thanks so much to Angela and Lorraine! And please go visit all my other Daring Baker friends!


  1. Your cake is splendid! Really beautiful and perfect! Very well done, my friend!



  2. Your cake looks beautiful even if it is pudding more than frosting. =) great job.

  3. So gorgeous! I love all your photos. I agree, this frosting was totally more pudding than frosting! (Luckily, I love chocolate pudding! ;) )

  4. Hi
    Just had to say your dobos version is beautifullllll
    The presentation is lovely, Looks really professional
    I read your blog a lot, and really admire your constant effort and the beautiful pictures

    (also a DB)

  5. Your layers look perfect! Thanks for the gorgeous photos.

  6. You did a great job! I had runny buttercream too... it was a bitch the minute I frosted two layers, they were dripping down the sides. (insert deep breath) and my caramel SUCKED until Adam fixed it. Yours, looks gorgeous though. I cannot believe it is already the end of summer ( in Orange County it's 95+ ugh). Nicely done Lisa!

  7. Your photos are so gorgeous! I'm sorry to hear that you did not enjoy the cake.. but yours looks absolutely breathtaking. I too did not enjoy the lemon juice in the caramel.. I don't think anyone did. Kudos on a job well done!

  8. I used small eggs for the butter cream plus added more chocolate and I half the lemon juice in the caramel but I'll eat your cake anytime...just pass it on to me... very beautifully done :)

  9. fantastic!! awesome job! and yes I did use dark chocolate in my buttercream but your torte is just amazing!!!

  10. Just love browsing your blog, just pure substance, just adorable! you got great cakes there!

  11. Great result!
    I found the buttercream similar to chocolate pudding, too, but I must say I liked that.
    As for teh citrus, I don't think it was just there for flavoring, my caramel was much more plastic than the plain one... maybe adding some glucose would give the same result, tasteless.

  12. Your cake looks lovely. Have to agree I wasn't too fond of this one though it was a hit with everyone else.

    And yes, don't know where August went.
    And real Indian summers are "hot"!!! :)

  13. Well at least it looks prefect even if it wasn't to your tastes. And yes I only added 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice and that was fine I just thought that the tablespoons in the recipe was a typo. Wonderful caramel layers. Bravo on a great challenge. Cheers from Audax in Australia

  14. Stunning photos! Your torte is gorgeous - Wonderful job!!

  15. awww what a shame your didn't really like the outcome of your torte. I hope it was fun for you to make though. I think your caramel layer looks the best, seems like you easily managed to spread the caramel on and cut it evenly. COngrats on the way your cake looks =D

  16. Dobos tortA!!!
    not torte...

  17. Lisa, I cannot believe I missed your Torte! It's aesthetically perfect, aboslutely gorgeous, as are your photos. However, sucks that it sucked for you taste wise, but you're so right about the lemon in the caramel - no way!

  18. Your photos and torte are so beautiful. well done!

  19. your dobos torte turn out divne, the photos are amazing and the step by step really good, awesome!