My Cake Decorating Gallery

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Birthday Dobos Torte

First off, this turned out far better than I could have hoped. I wanted to try something special and new for my birthday cake and couldn't really force that work on anyone else, plus then I would have missed all the fun of doing it. I finally decided on a classic cake, Dobos Torte, that my family used to order during Christmas when we were kids. All I knew about it was that it has very thin layers of cake with chocolate frosting and it's covered in chocolate as well, but I was able to find out a lot more from this website which offered some real history of the Dobos Torte (pronounced 'Dobosh'), which is actually Hungarian in origin.

This Dobos Torte was absolutely delicious and rivals the Daring Bakers' Carmelized Butter/Caramel cake from November and one of my two top favorite cakes ever. I looked online for a good Dobos Torte recipe and finally chose the one from Food Network by Wolfgang Puck, from his episode "Wolfgang Puck's Austria: A Journey Home"

The general idea of the recipe was to make a airy cake batter and spread it into 6 circles that I had traced on parchment paper and then bake them. This meant whipping egg whites separate from the yolks and carefully folding them together. I tried to bake 4 circles at a time but the edges of my parchment were crisping up... next time I would lower the temperature and cook them for longer. I ended up with dark edges and soft centers, but that was no problem - I just trimmed the edges and you couldn't tell in the cake. I did not have cake flour or a vanilla on hand but regular flour and vanilla extract seemed to do just fine.

The next step was to make the buttercream ... I know... it has raw eggs... creepy, right? I don't care, it was a silky smooth delicious buttercream and I'd definitely make it again. I kept the frosting and cake refrigerated the whole time.

Lastly, and we didn't have this on our "ordered Dobos Tortes" in my childhood, but apparently the classic Dobos Torte has one of the cake layers covered in caramel on top of the cake.. either flat or at an angle like I did it, cut into wedges. This was the trickiest part of the recipe, as it was the "dry method" for making caramel which usually results in burning 1 batch and things not working out right. My one batch that I ended up using was a little overdone plus it was hard to spread - it cools so quickly that you don't have time to butter a knife and cutting the wedges into anything smaller than 6 pieces would've been impossible... as it was, the edges were coarse and not cutting cleanly. Oh well, luckily this cake was just for me so I didn't have to obsess over details. Next time I'd probably try a different method and aim to make a caramel that was semi-soft instead of brittle.

I tasted the cake layer edge and frosting both separately, and I thought "well, I hope it'll be OK".. nothing to write home about yet... But behold -- once it was sliced and I was trying the finished product, it seemed to rise to a whole new level and it brought me right back to those Dobos Tortes we used to enjoy as children-- except better! It was totally delicious and what seemed so simple - thin layers of light spongey cake with chocolate buttercream -- turned out to be a unique flavor and so decadent.

So being a Two-Days-Before-Christmas baby isn't so bad - I had the day off to make my own cake and I was my own happy customer this time. I highly recommend this recipe, or at least stopping by for a piece the next time I make it.

Dobos Torte
as seen here, by Wolfgang Puck

Cake :

12 ounces unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 ounces powdered sugar
10 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
7 ounces cake flour, sifted

Chocolate Buttercream:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 pound butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon rum, optional

Caramel Topping:
6 ounces sugar

Cake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mark the outline of a 9-inch cake pan on parchment paper. Repeat until you have 6 marked circles.
Place butter and vanilla in mixing bowl. Warm over low heat to soften. Transfer to a mixer and whip for 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and continue to whip another 5 minutes, until smooth and well blended. Lower the speed and add the egg yolks. Continue to whip for 2 to 3 minutes, until light.

In another mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and increase speed of the mixer. Whip until stiff but not dry. Fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold flour into the egg mixture. Divide the batter equally among the 6-marked circles. With an offset spatula, spread the batter about 1/4-inch thick to fill in the marked circle. Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden in color. Allow to cool. Transfer each cake circle onto a 9-inch cake board. Reserve.

Chocolate Buttercream: In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Boil to 240 degrees F or soft ball stage on a candy thermometer. Do not stir.

Meanwhile, in a mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolk until light and ribbony. Lower the speed and gradually pour the hot syrup into the egg mixture. Increase the speed and whip mixture until room temperature. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time. Then add the melted chocolate and rum, if desired. Continue to whip until smooth and well blended.

Caramel Topping: Cook sugar until is amber in color. Pour caramel over 1 of the reserved cake layers. Run edge of a chef's knife in butter. With the help of the buttered edge knife, spread the caramel to cover the entire surface of the cake circle. Allow to cool to set the caramel. Cut into 12 equal pie cuts. Reserve.

To assemble torte: Reserve half of the Chocolate Buttercream. Using some of the remaining buttercream, spread a 1/8-inch layer on top of the first cake layer. Continue layering the remaining the 4 remaining cake circles and spreading the buttercream. When all 5 cake layers have been frosted, frost the sides and top of the cake. Use a pastry comb to finish the sides of the layered cake. Mark the top of the cake into 12 pie sections. Pipe the remaining buttecream on top of each pie section and arrange the caramel slices on top of the piped cream at an angle.


  1. Happy Birthday!

    The caramel-coated topping layer looks so good!

  2. That looks devine Anne!

    Andy says he got gipped! He only remembers white ones with fruity jam layers. I think he's pouting ;)

  3. Andy must have amnesia, as we always got Dobos tortes from Swiss Colony -- don't you remember those log-shaped things? But yes, mom typically would always make her favorite - the white frosting and jam layers, whenever a cake was needed. That's why I did my on birthday baking.. wanted to try something new and save her the trouble!

  4. Very nice! inspirational too... and you're so pretty!

  5. You did a gorgeous job - and happy belated birthday!