Saturday, September 13, 2014

The show-stopping Dobos Torte

I always believe that if you're going to make a comeback, it better be good. I'm embarrassed to say that I've been away from this blog for more than two months. And before that, my posts have been sporadic to say the least. 

I'm not going to list down my excuses for being absent - nobody really wants to read about excuses. But I've found a perfect cake to bounce back on - the Dobos Torte, a Hungarian seven-layer sponge cake, with chocolate buttercream and a caramel layer on top. 

Doesn't that sound divine. Sponge, chocolate, caramel. Layers and layers of sponge, chocolate and finally ... caramel.

Being a TV freak, it isn't surprising that the idea to try this cake came from a TV show - the Great British Bake Off (season 5, ep 6). As soon as the show ended, I went online and started reading up about this decadent cake and bookmarked two sites: Joe Pastry and Smitten Kitchen. 

A traditional Dobos Torte is round and has seven layers but I kinda liked the non-traditional rectangular cake made by Smitten Kitchen and I added a couple more layers. So it's a derivation from the classic (of which there are apparently over 100 variations), but the flavours are the same. Well, kinda. The chocolate buttercream is more of a ganache but heck, it's delicious so I'm certainly not complaining.

I was psyched. I read through both recipes and checked to see if I had all the ingredients - apart from the standard flour, sugar (confectioner's sugar), vanilla extract, chocolate and butter, you will also need eggs. A lot of eggs. About 13. 

Check, I had them all.

I decided to start it on a Saturday morning, bright and early because this cake takes at least three hours to make, from start (assembling the ingredients) to finish (frosting the cake and photographing it).

In all honesty, it's not a complicated cake to make but it takes time, some patience, attention to detail and ... did I say patience already? But the recipes on both Joe Pastry and Smitten Kitchen are fabulously precise and clear which made it a lot easier.

But let me warn you, there's an awful lot of washing up to do. 

That's only half the equipment you'll use. 

But, do try it. No, seriously. Try making it and then try eating it. And then try stopping yourself from eating it all at one go because it tastes even better the next day, all chilled.

I'm not going to include the recipe in this post as you'll get a better idea of the process on Smitten Kitchen's website (she has gorgeous photos of the process - I was too stressed to stop and photograph each step. Heck I didn't even know if it'd turn out) but I will point out a few of details/technicalities you will have to be prepared for.

Not to scare you from making it or anything, just to prepare you.

1. There are lots of eggs to separate. About 13. And you will be left with 3 egg whites to use elsewhere. I made an egg-white omelette and felt really healthy (even after two large slices of the torte).

2. You will have to bake seven layers of thin sponge, each for about 6-7 minutes (which means you really can't leave the kitchen for about an hour). Achieving almost the same thickness for all seven layers was the hardest part about making this cake - you can weight each portion but I just winged it and it turned out pretty fine, although my sponges were a little thin - perhaps I should have stuck to seven layers. Next time. 

3. You will have to clear some kitchen space as you will need to lay each layer out to cool before even thinking of assembling the cake. I inadvertently cleaned my kitchen in the process, so I guess it was a bonus.

That's about it really. The rest are pretty standard baking protocols.

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