Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Daring Dobos

DSC03985, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

It's official, I'm a daring baker! This is pretty exciting for me. I always thought that becoming a daring baker was something that a.) you needed to be invited to do, like some exclusive club. And tat b.) it would likely never happen for me. I'm pretty sure that when it started it was an exclusive, invite-only club situation, but now, you can go to and submit a request to become either a daring baker or a daring cook. I was accepted about three months ago. However, due to the insanity this summer has thrown my way (which is apparent by the lack of content on this little blog), I had to opt out of the last two challenges. I was so excited when I knew I could participate this month. Perfect timing in fact. Summer quarter ended Thursday of last week, giving me just a bit more time to spend in the kitchen.

Some of you may be wondering, what the heck are you talking about, what is a 'daring baker', anyway? Quick and simple explanation for those of you who may not be familiar with the daring bakers. They, er, we, are a group (now quite a large group) of individuals who are presented with a baking challenge once a month on the first. Most of us are bloggers, but even if you don't blog, you're welcome to participate, they have an area where you can post your completed challenge to the group. We keep whatever our challenge is a secret from the rest of the blogging world most of the month. At the end of the month, usually the 27th, we reveal our experiences, pictures, and recipes with you! For me it's a great way to break out of my baking box. Someone gives me a recipe to attempt, and interpret, usually with components or ingredients I've never tried. This is a large reason I love my cooking group. For me, the daring bakers is another reason to push myself and hopefully learn something new, every month.

So, aren't you dying to know what you see above? What the August Daring Bakers challenge was? The Dobos Torte. Admittedly, I had never, in my life, heard of a Dobos Torte. However, this cake is quite famous, primarily in Europe and in Hungaria, it's country of origin. In my repertoire I only have one rotating (savory) hungarian recipe, I suppose, now I have two. The Dobos was named after famous confectioner Jozsef C. Dobos. Dobos created both the chocolate buttercream and spongecake recipes. The frosting was of great note back in the late 1800's because most cakes during that period of time were frosted with pastry or whipped cream. This decadent, rich, chocolate buttercream was so wildly different that the cake rocketed to popularity throughout Europe. Regardless of it's popularity, Dobos traveled and cooked this cake rather than sharing the recipe, it took him years after it's unveiling to share any component with another chef. Interesting, no?

I followed the recipe to a t. I generally practice one of my only rules in the kitchen; try a recipe word for word once, tweak if need be the second time around. I did, however, change a few things, primarily only with my presentation of the cake. I found the buttercream to be quite 'loose'. Classically, the side of this cake is packed with nuts, generally hazelnut or almond, and the top is covered in wedges of thin spongecake covered in caramel. Due to the softness of the frosting I decided to pack the top with nuts, and layer the sides with hardcrack caramel embedded with toasted hazelnuts. So, while my presentation may not be classic, I used all the components of the recipe, the soft, light spongecake, the rich chocolatey frosting, the toasted nuts, and the caramelized sugar. I didn't get any pictures of the inside which is a huge shame, because the layers were just gorgeous. I made the cake during the day, took pictures. We were having family over for dinner that night, so I had to wait to cut into it until after dark (and my camera simply won't cooperate in the darkness). Check out some other daring baker posts from his month for a peek at the inside. Simply stunning! If you're looking for a cake that's a bit time consuming, gorgeous, and will surely impress your guests both in presentation and flavor, then I would gladly suggest this cake. It can be made a variety of ways, some of my fellow daring bakers used white instead of dark chocolate, some filled theirs with fresh peach jam, some used various forms of nuts, and many decorated their cakes in unique ways, from mini's to giants. I encourage you to check out their posts as well. One of the greatest things about these challenges is that we all come to the table with different experiences, interpretations, and outcomes.

I couldn't be happier to have participated this month. I look forward to the months ahead fellow bakers (and readers!)

Angela from A Spoonful Of Sugar, and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella chose and hosted this months events. Here is the recipe they provided the bakers with. It might seem long, but give it a try, you won't be disappointed:

Sponge cake layers
• 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
• 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
• 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
• pinch of salt
Chocolate Buttercream
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
• 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
Caramel topping
• 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
• 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
• 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)
Finishing touches
• a 7” cardboard round
• 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
• ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:
The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.
4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.
Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.
Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.


I am quite happy to store this cake at room temperature under a glass dome, but your mileage may vary. If you do decide to chill it, then I would advise also using a glass dome if you have done. I should also note that the cake will cut more cleanly when chilled.


Shape: The traditional shape of a Dobos Torta is a circular cake, but you can vary the shape and size if you want. Sherry Yard in Desserts By The Yard makes a skyscraper Dobos by cutting a full-size cake into four wedges and stacking them to create a tall, sail-shaped cake. Mini Dobos would be very cute, and you could perch a little disc of caramel on top.
Flavour: While we both love the dark chocolate buttercream and this is traditional, we think it would be fun to see what fun buttercreams you all come up with! So, go wild! Or, you could brush each layer with a flavoured syrup if you just want a hint of a second flavour. Cointreau syrup would be divine!
Nuts: These are optional for decoration, so no worries if you're allergic to them. If you don't like hazelnuts, then substitute for another variety that you like.

Egg concerns
The cooking process for the buttercream will produce lightly cooked eggs. If you fall into a vulnerable health group then you may wish to use an egg-less buttercream.

DSC04000, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.


RachelleLouise said...

Wow!!! That is so awesome! I'm so excited for you joining the Daring Bakers! You are such a natural for it! This cake looks amazing! I love the sheets of caramel on the outside! Can't wait to see more of your creations!

Georgina Ingham | CulinaryTravels said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers. Your first challenge looks fabulous, you are a natural DB'er.

Love the new look of your blog too :)


miss mallory opel said...

Thanks for the compliments ladies! The caramel panels on the outside just kind of happened, by accident. There I was making caramel sauce for the top, not knowing how I was going to decorate it, but knowing I wanted it to look somewhat unique, when it hit me. I just continued to caramelize the sugar, pulled out my silpat, and the rest is dobos history!

KG, I'm glad you like the new layout. I'm actually thinking I might want to change the colors around a bit. I feel like I'm never quite satisfied, which is not a great feeling!!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I really love the feedback!

Lauren said...

Lovely job!! I love what you did for decorations =D. Congrats on your first challenge!

Audax said...

Congrats on your 1st challenge. You did a wonderful torta. Love the caramel and it is ok to do changes on the challenge theme. Great that you loved the reveal recipe. Cheers from Audax in Australia