Monday, 31 July 2017

Something Different: Doboš Torte (Wheat Free, with Dairy Free Option)

Tetszik a tortát? Itt van egy Doboš torta!

There ain't nothing like a good Central European cake: they tend to be decadent, elegant, and impressive, but made with good, simple, traditional baking ingredients. They also tend to feature a serious amount of eggs and butter. I love the proper old fashioned, somewhat imperial cakes like this, and in general am a big fan of German, Polish, and Central European baking.

This cake is no different: invented by the Hungarian baker Jozef Dobos, this dessert was introduced to the Austro-Hungarian courts in 1885. I first saw a picture of this cake on Pinterest, which started me on a whimsical adventure through all the wonderful Hungarian and Romanian cakes there are to see.

From my observation, many cakes from this region revolve around multiple layers of thin sponge cake, sandwiched with some sort of buttercream or pastry cream, and decorated with dark caramel accents and nuts. Doboš Torte is no different, being made from 5 layers of cake, sandwiched with chocolate, and decorated with caramel coated biscuits and flaked almonds and hazelnuts.

This cake was a show stopper when it was first invented, and it is still today: the whole cake uses 10 eggs, that all need beating into sponges and foamy custards. Making it today takes a lot of beating with an electric mixer, so God knows how long it would have taken the Imperial bakers to beat all the eggs by hand back in the 19th century.

Through research on Hungarian websites, with the help of Google Translate, I found the traditional buttercream recipe for this cake, that uses eggs and sugar as a base, like a French buttercream. However, for those of you that are nervous about raw eggs, these are beaten over steaming water until thick and creamy, so technically the eggs are cooked. If that doesn't ease your troubled mind, however, don't feed to small children, elderly people, or people with autoimmune issues.

For one very large cake that serves 16 people

For 6 sponge layers

  • 6 medium eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) caster sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (90 millilitres) sunflower oil
  • 6 tablespoons (90 millilitres) milk, or milk alternative
  • Icing sugar, for dusting
For the chocolate buttercream,
  • 4 medium eggs*
  • 8 ounces (225 grammes) caster sugar
  • 8 ounces (225 grammes) dark chocolate, about 60%, most dark chocolates are dairy-free, but check the ingredients just to be sure
  • 12 ounces (340 grammes) unsalted butter, or margarine
  • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) vanilla essence
For caramel topping,
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar
  • 4 teaspoons (20 millilitres) cold water
  • 4 teaspoons (20 grammes) unsalted butter
To assemble,
  • 16 hazelnuts
  • About 3 or 4 ounces (85 to 115 grammes) flaked almonds
* If you're nervous about using semi-cooked eggs in your icing, use 8 fluid ounces (240 millilitres) of milk, or milk alternative, cooked into a custard with 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) of cornflour. This will make it a chocolate version of the icing used in my red velvet cake recipe.


First, prepare the buttercream base.
  • In a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, beat together the eggs and caster sugar very well with an electric mixer until pale yellow, super fluffy, and tripled in volume. This can take up to 8 or 10 minutes, so be patient. Once light and fluffy, remove from the heat and beat for a further 2 minutes to set the texture.
  • In another large heatproof bowl, either over the same simmering pan or in the microwave, melt the chocolate.
  • Take a small spoonful of the whipped eggs and fold into the chocolate. It will seize and turn crumbly, but don't be alarmed: as you gradually fold in the whipped egg, it will turn back into a smooth, moussey mixture.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover with cling film and allow to set for about an hour.
Next, prepare the sponges.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F, Gas Mk.3), and line two flat baking trays that are at least 10 inch (25 centimetre) square. On the back side of the baking paper, draw around an 8 inch (20 centimetre) round tin: this will be your guide for making the sponges.
  • Not many people can fit 6 trays in their oven, so you have to make the mixture a bit at a time. If you prepare all the sponge mixture at once, but can only cook 2 sponges at a time, the remaining mixture in the bowl will deflate. As such, for each tray that will fit in your oven, use a sixth of your ingredients.
  • Prepare the mixture as you need according to this recipe, using a third of the ingredients listed. Divide the mixture between the two trays, putting the mixture into the middle of the circle guide. Smooth the batter out to the edges of the circle.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until evenly golden brown. Remove the paper from the trays, and cool the cakes upside down on a wire rack until the paper can peel off easily.
  • Put the liners back onto the trays, and continue the process until you have 6 cakes altogether. 
  • Cool all the cakes completely. If you don't have enough wire racks to cool all your cakes, cool 2 at a time, then stack on a plate. Just dust each cake generously with icing sugar to stop them from sticking to each other.
Once the cakes are cooled, prepare the caramel biscuit layer.
  • Take the cake that's the most evenly shaped, and place it upside down on a sheet of non-stick paper. Butter the blade of a large kitchen knife very well.
  • In a pan, cook the sugar and water together, stirring constantly, over medium heat until it becomes a golden brown syrup. This can take up to 5 minutes.
  • Add in the butter and stir well. It'll steam and bubble up, but after a few seconds it'll calm down.
  • Working very quickly, pour the caramel over the cake's surface and even out. If some goes over the sides, it's okay.
  • Once smoothed, score the surface of the cake circle into 16 pieces, pressing down well with the knife. If it starts to stick, butter the blade again. Also, trim any caramel that has run off the sides.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting cleanly into the individual wedges. Keep covered while finishing the cake so they don't go sticky.
Now, make the butter cream and assemble the cake.

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Add in the cooled chocolate custard mixture a spoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • On your serving plate, assemble the cake by layering all 5 remaining cakes with half of the chocolate icing in thin layers.
  • Use the remaining icing to coat the top and sides. Pat almonds into the side of the cake to decorate. You could also use finely chopped nuts of your choice to decorate the sides.
  • Even place the hazelnuts around the top edge of the cake. Prop the caramel biscuit wedges on the top, leaning against the hazelnuts.
  • Pipe a decoration in the middle to cover the tips of the caramel biscuits. If you have enough icing leftover, you can pipe a border; I didn't have enough to do so. Allow to set for about an hour before serving.
This cake must be kept in the fridge, well wrapped so the caramel doesn't melt. Eat within 3 days of making, because of the egg in the icing.

THIS TIME IN 2016: Chocolate Lime Cupcakes (Wheat Free)
THIS TIME IN 2014: Lessons in Chocolate Dipping and Edible Anniversary Gifts
THIS TIME IN 2013: Homemade Box of Chocolates = WIN
There was no blog this time in 2015.

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