This classic torte has the irresistible flavors of chocolate Buttercream combined with a light sponge cake. The Dobos Torte was invented around 1884 by Jozsef Dobos, a Hungarian chef. It is said he donated the recipe to the Budapest Pastry and Honey Bread makers Guild in 1906 to make the recipe public for everyone to share and enjoy.
There are many recipes for Dobos Torte, but to replicate the original recipe it should be made with five to eight thin layers of a biscuit or sponge cake, chocolate Buttercream, and a caramel topping cut into triangle shapes.
To make a slightly modernized version, I have added toasted and chopped hazelnuts as a garnish; hazelnuts and chocolate are such a decadent flavor combination. Instead of a flat caramel layer, the hardened caramel cake layer is drizzled with chocolate and propped up with extra Buttercream and whole hazelnuts like a spinning pinwheel.
1½ cups sifted cake flour
¼ teaspoon salt
9 large eggs, separated
2¼ cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, divided
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Classic French Chocolate Buttercream:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup water
2½ cup (5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Tip: See Melting Chocolate – How to Melt Chocolate
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed, coarsely chopped
24 whole hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1½ cups granulated sugar
Small amount of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted (about 1 ounce) for chocolate drizzle (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425o degrees F. Cut 8 sheets of parchment paper, each about 12 inches squares. Draw 9-inch circles on each sheet using a 9-inch cardboard cake board or cake pan as a guide. Make sure the circles are drawn dark enough tosee when the paper is turned over. Turn the sheets over and lightly grease the area of the circle and lightly dust with flour. Pick up the sheets and tap off excess flour to leave just a light dusting. Set the sheets aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg yolks and beat 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed until the egg yolk foam becomes thick and lemon colored. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar to the eggs, eitherone tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 2 to 3 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the eggs and sugar are fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. The mixture will be thick and a pale yellow color. Add the vanilla and continue mixing for another 1 minute until well blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
- In another large mixing bowl and using clean beaters, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar; continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula, gently fold about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk batter to lighten the batter.
- Place the flour mixture into a wire mesh strainer and sprinkle about one-third over the egg mixture. Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the eggs, using about 3 to 4 turns with each addition of flour, and making sure to reach to the bottom of the bowl as you fold. Do not worry about incorporating all the flour until the last addition, as too much handling will deflate the batter. Then fold about one-third of the remaining egg whites into the batter using about 3 to 4 turns with each addition of egg whites. Alternate with adding the flour and egg whites taking about 12 to 15 more turns to completely incorporate the ingredients, and taking no more than 15 to 20 seconds as the batter can deflate quickly
- Spoon the batter onto the prepared parchment sheets, dividing the batter evenly between the 8 circles. Gently spread the batter over the circle with a small offset spatula or the back of a large spoon, covering the circles completely and spreading the mixture evenly. When ready to bake, slip each sheet onto a large baking sheet and bake 6 to 8 minutes or until the layers are golden brown and the cake springs backwhen lightly touched. Bake the layers as promptly as possible, one after the other. The layers must be baked promptly because the batter will lose volume and begin to weep if allowed to stand too long. Remove layers from the baking sheets as soon as they come out of the oven; slide the parchment and cake layer onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Cool without removing the parchment paper.
Classic French Chocolate Buttercream:
- In top of a double boiler over hot water, melt chocolate. Or, place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, use 50% power and stir frequently just until the chocolate is melted; do not overheat as chocolate will burn easily. Set aside to cool slightly.
Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Turn the heat off and place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the hot water, the upper pan should not touch the water. See Melting Chocolate – How to Melt Chocolate.
- In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine eggs and egg yolks. Whisk on medium high speed for 5 to 8 minutes until the eggs become thick and lemon colored and drop in ribbons when the beater is lifted. Tip: continue beating the eggs until the sugar syrup is cooked.
- Meanwhile, in a medium size heavy saucepan, preferably non-stick, combine sugar and water. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir gently to avoid splashing the mixture onto the sides of the pan.
- When the syrup looks clear, clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches a temperature of 238 degrees F, a soft-ball stage. While the syrup is cooking, wash away any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan by wiping upwards with a damp pastry brush so the sugar crystals don’t fall back into the syrup. Immediately remove pan from the heat and remove the candy thermometer. Tip: As soon as the syrup reaches 238 degrees F. immediately remove from the heat and pour the syrup into a glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.
- Quickly, as soon at the sugar syrup is done cooking, stop the mixer, pour a small amount of syrup into the beaten egg yolks, immediately turn the mixer on to high speed and beat for 5 to 10 seconds still using the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer off again, pour a little larger amount of syrup in the eggs, andimmediately turn the mixer on to high speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. Tip: You want to work quickly as the sugar starts to harden and thicken pretty quickly. Don’t allow any syrup to pour onto the whisk as it will spin the syrup around the sides of the bowl.
- Once all the sugar has been added to the eggs, continue beating the mixture at high speed, about 5 minutes longer, or until the mixture is cool. Tip: Touch the mixture and make sure it has cooled to room temperature. Also the outside of the bowl should feel cool to the touch.
- Stop the mixer, remove the whisk and attach the paddle. With the mixer on medium speed add the butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time and mixing 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. While adding the butter, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. The Buttercream may look curdled after the butter is added, but it will become smooth as you continue to beat it. Add the vanilla and chocolate and continue beating until the Buttercream is thick and smooth, about another 3 to 5 minutes. Buttercream should be used immediately, or refrigerate until needed.
- Gently peel off the paper from one of the layers and flip the layerupside down on a cake plate. Spread Buttercream about ¼ inchthick over the layer, using about ¾ cup of Buttercream. Gently peel the paper from another layer and place the layer on top, lining up the layers so the edges are even, and spread about ¾ cup of Buttercream over the top.Repeat with the next four layers. Place the 7th cake layer on top. Reserve the 8th layer for the caramel top.
- When the 7 layers are completed, use a long sharp kitchen knife to trim off the edge of the layers to make the sides straight.
- Reserve about 1/2 cup of the Buttercream for the rosettes. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining Buttercream.
- Place reserved ½ cup Buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a star decorating tip (I used a #16 tip.) Pipe 12 small rosettes about ½ inch from the edge, around the top of the cake. Place 2 whole hazelnuts in the top of each Buttercream rosette. Gently press the chopped hazelnuts around the sides of the cake.
- Place frosted cake in refrigerator to firm up the Buttercream.
- Gently peel the parchment paper from the reserved cake layer and flip the layer upside down on a lightly greased flat work surface, such as a wooden or marble pastry board. Set aside while making the caramel sauce.
- In a medium heavy saucepan, preferably non-stick, combine butter, water, lemon juice, and sugar. Heat on low heat until the butter is melted and sugar dissolves, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir gently to avoid splashing the mixture onto the sides of the pan. Cover the saucepan with a lid and increase the heat to medium for 4 minutes. Tip: Covering the pan will help to wash down the sides of the pan removing any stray sugar crystals.
- Remove the lid, clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches a temperature of 320 degrees F, a light caramel stage. While the syrup is cooking, wash away any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan by wiping upwards with a damp pastry brush so the sugar crystals don’t fall back into the syrup. Immediately remove pan from the heat and remove the candy thermometer. Tip: Lower the heat when the temperature reaches 300 degrees to slow the cooking because at this point it will quickly reach 320 degrees. In addition, remove the pan from the heat just before the syrup reaches 320 degrees to prevent it from going over 320 degrees. F.
- Let the hot caramel sit and cool to 300 degrees F, about 5 minutes. The caramel should be thick like molasses.
- Carefully scoop out about ½ of the caramel using a large spoon and spoon the caramel onto the reserved cake layer and immediately spread over the layer with a buttered icing spatula or offset spatula. The caramel will soak into the cake; let the caramel cake layer sit a few minutes until caramel is slightly firm. Be careful, the caramel is extremely hot and will burn your skin if you touch it. Tip: keep remaining caramel over low heat to keep it fluid until ready to use.
- Spoon the remaining caramel over the cake layer and immediately spread the caramel with a buttered icing spatula or offset spatula, allowing the caramel to flow over the sides to cover the edges of the cake. Use the buttered spatula to push any caramel that flows away from the edges back onto the cake. You can also use the buttered spatula to smooth the edges of the caramel as it sets.
- While the caramel is still warm, use a buttered large, sharp kitchen knife to score the caramel into 12 equal size triangle wedges, then cut the caramel cake layer all the way though to separate the wedges. Let sit to cool and harden.
- Spoon melted chocolate into a pastry bag with a small round decorating tip or a small plastic bag with a ziplock top. If using a plastic bag, cut off a very small corner of the bag.
- Push the wedges back together to form a circle. Drizzle the chocolate over the top of the caramel wedges in a spiral, starting in the center and moving to the outside edge. Let sit or refrigerate wedges until the chocolate is hardened.
- Arrange the caramel wedges on top of the cake with the small ends meeting in the middle, tipping the edge of each one so it lays against the Buttercream rosette and whole hazelnuts. The caramel wedges will look similar to a fan-blade.
- Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
Adapted From: Castella, Drystina, A World of Cake, Storey Publishing, MA, 2010; Teubner, Christian, Cakes & Pastries, Hearst Books, New York, 1983
Description: Layered Sponge Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
Prep: Parchment Paper, Marked, Greased, Floured
Oven Temp: 425o
Prep Time: 6 Hours
Baking Time: 60 Minutes
Serves: 12 to 14
Storage: Cover and Refrigerate
Recipe Type: Cake, Buttercream, Chocolate, Hazelnuts, Thanksgiving
Help: Cake Hints, Toasting Nuts and Seeds, Melting Chocolate, Chocolate Types
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