How do I like my eggs? Umm…in a cake.
I cannot tell you how totally excited and completely freaked out I was to make this cake. Dobos Torte has long been an elusive treat reserved for special occasions. Once in a while, across a crowded room, your mother or cousin will come and whisper, “there’s Dobos Torte on the sweet table” and you’ll only tell your those nearest and dearest to you so that it doesn’t disappear before you get a slice.
The layers of thin cake and creamy, chocolate frosting…my heart is smiling just thinking about it. Never in a million years did I think I would make this cake until my birthday approached and I decided I wanted to make my own cake. And “a” cake wasn’t enough of course, but a 10-layer Dobos Torte was what it had to be. I kept the idea hush in fear that if I failed, I would disappoint only myself and not my anticipating guests as well.
But fail…I did not! Sure, I learned a few lessons for next time but it met and exceeded my expectations for my first attempt. Being so intimidated, I even spread out the process making the cake layers on Thursday (and more on Friday…you’ll read about that later), then refrigerating them until making the filling and frosting on Saturday and then serving on Sunday. While there’s nothing wrong with spreading out the steps, I would say the cake could be made in about 4-5 hours next time. The baking time is nothing at all (only 5 minutes per layer) but the assembly part is not one you want to rush, especially if you decide to make the caramel layer, which is really for decoration but as the cake looks simple, this extra mile helps if you’re making this cake for a special occasion.
As divine as it was on Sunday when served for my birthday and Mother’s Day…it was even better on Monday, and Tuesday, and even a final piece on Wednesday. If you’re going to attempt this cake (do it) here’s what you’ll find – Day 1 and 2 – the cake is rich and huge on chocolate flavor. A thin sliver of a piece will be all most can manage. Day 3 and 4 – the chocolate intensity is a little more subtle as the cake layers absorb the filling. The flavor shifts to a mocha flavor than rich chocolate. And since the cake layers have absorbed some of the filling, there is no loss of moisture whatsoever. The moistness is likely also retained by the dual coating of chocolate frosting around the entire exterior.
Once all the layers were assembled and just before the crumb-coat, I had a moment. Technically, I had to trim one end off a little as it was a little bumpy but we all know who that piece was for. ME. I tucked it away inside the fridge and once the crumb coat, and final coat of frosting was done and the cake was near-complete, I sat down with a cup of coffee and ooooh-my-gawwwwwd’d my way through my reward. It was a total moment of accomplishment and pure enjoyment. I did good.
The cake I will admit from the exterior is not that exciting so the caramel decorations in my opinion are a must. The caramel layer was surprisingly simple to make and as long as you know not to run your finger along the spoon [ahem] you should come out the other end unharmed. The caramel shapes are quite impressive and with the cake layer as a base, are quite the tasty caramel-like-cookie.
The Dobos Torte – conquered!
WHAT I DID…
I used an 12×17-inch rimmed cookie sheet/jelly roll pan and cut the finished layer lengthwise (6″x17″) to net two layers per sheet because I was making a B-I-G Dobos Torte… 1) …for impact, 2) …because I had 15 people to feed, and 3) …I was pretty sure I wanted leftovers of this cake
My finished cake thus measured 6”x17” with a trim off each end for tidiness and stacked 9-layers high with a 10th layer being used for the caramel top.
Confession….so essentially, I doubled the recipe getting 6 layers out of the first batch and only 4 out of the second batch as I ended up making those layers a little thicker. Hey – I’m keeping it real here. I woke up at 5am the next day panic-stricken that six layers weren’t going to appease the 3 reasons above so I made an additional batch recipe of cake batter. Coffee…lots of coffee got me through this day.
What I learned…stick to the following layer options to start. And for each, you can make additional layers if you feel comfortable baking more or baking your cake layers thinner.
A 7-layer 9-inch round cake (the most traditional)
A 14-layer 6-inch round (would serve fewer people but have tall, showy slices)
A 12-layer 4×8-inch cake (baked in 4 quarter-sheet pans, each divided into thirds)
A 6-layer 4×8.5-inch cake (the more traditional rectangle, baked in a single 12×17-inch sheet pan)
Okay…here we go!
- 7 large eggs, separated
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1lb (3 1/2 cups) confectioners’ (icing) sugar, plus extra for dusting racks
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp table salt
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tbsp confectioners’ (icing) sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Assuming you’ve read the above, take a few moments to decide on your size and shape which should be determined by a) what pans you have and b) the occasion. Line the bottom of your pan(s) with parchment paper. Spread a thin layer of butter along the parchment and sides of the pan. Follow with flour. Tap out any excess flour.
- Preheat your oven to 450F and place a rack in the center of your oven. Using an electric mixer and paddle attachment, beat the 10 egg yolks for a few minutes at high speed, until pale and lemon-coloured. Reduce speed and gradually add the sugar, then increase the speed and beat the yolks and sugar until thick and glossy.
- Scrape your bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula, being certain to scrape the bottom as well. Reduce speed again and gradually add the flour and salt. Increase the speed and mix for 5 minutes more and add the lemon juice. Scrape the bowl again.
- Transfer the mix to a separate mixing bowl because you’re going to need the mixing bowl and beaters for this next step. Unless you have another mixer and beaters…in that case, adopt me? Beat the 7 egg whites with the whisk attachment until they hold stiff peaks. Your yolk mixture is going to be very thick so start by adding a few heaping spoonful’s of the whites in to loosen the mixture, then fold in the rest of the whites. When done, your batter will no longer be thick and dry but light, foamy and spreadable.
- Spread your batter into your prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to “push” the batter across the parchment paper. You are aiming for each layer to be about 1/4-inch thick and do not leave any holes in the batter.
- Bake each layer for 5 minutes, or until golden with some dark brown spots. Thicker layers may take a few additional minutes. As each layer is removed from the oven, flip the cake onto a cooling rack that has been dusted lightly with icing sugar. Carefully remove the parchment paper and flip the cake back right-side-up. This one of the more stressful parts as the thin cake layers are delicate and risk breaking or tearing. If it happens, don’t sweat it. Just piece it back together as best you can. Once layered, it won’t even be noticeable.
- Repeat with remaining layers.
- The layers will cool quickly so once complete, you can trim the edges if needed to make even shapes or divider rectangular pans as planned.
- Repeat with remaining layers. Layers will cool very quickly. Trim edges of cake, if needed, to make even shapes or divide larger rectangular pans accordingly.
- Melt the chocolate until smooth. I melted mine in the microwave, in increments of 30 seconds, stirring constantly until melted. Set aside to cool to around room temperature.
- Beat the butter until soft and smooth. Add the vanilla and 3 egg yolks and mix until incorporated, mixing the sides of the bowl once done. Add the sugar and cooled chocolate. Beat until mixed through and scrape the bowl to ensure all bits are mixed incorporated.
- Take a deep breath – we’re almost there! Before you start to assemble, grab your cake plate and lay four strips of wax/parchment paper just slightly tucked under the first layer. This will catch any drips and keep your cake neat and tidy on the bottom. With your first layer down, spread your chocolate filling going right to the edges with an offset spatula. You want your chocolate layer to be thin so you have enough frosting for the layers and outside but you shouldn’t see any cake peeking through the surface of the chocolate.
- Repeat for all remaining layers, stacking as evenly as possible. If you’re planning to do the decorative caramel layer, reserve the top layer for later. At this point, you may want to trim any sides or edges if uneven.
- Using the remaining frosting, coat the outside of the cake in a thin coat or “crumb coat”. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the chocolate. Once set, coat the cake with a more generous layer and smooth out for the finishing coat. You can now remove the wax/parchment strips.
- Using a cookie sheet, lay a piece of parchment paper inside and lightly grease. Place your last cake layer on the sheet of parchment.
- Coat a large knife or cookie cutter of your choice and set aside. This will be what you use to cut the caramel decoration.
- Using a small saucepan on medium-high heat, let the sugar melt and wait for to become a pale amber colour. Use a wooden spoon sparingly to swirl the sugar as it melts. Once the sugar reaches the desired colour, carefully and quickly pour enough to cover the prepared cake layer. Use a silicone or offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly to the outer edges. Using the greased knife/cutter, and again working quickly, cut the layer as you wish. Allow to cool completely. Once cooled, go over the same cuts and to separate them cleanly.
- When ready to serve, arrange wedges or shapes over the cake.
- Chill cake until needed and let come to room temperature before serving.
- You can bake the cake layers ahead of time, refrigerating or freezing them between sheets of waxed paper, wrapped tightly in plastic. No need to defrost before assembling.
- The cake itself also keeps for days and actually tastes BEST on the 2nd and 3rd days when the cake layers have had a chance to soak up the chocolate frosting nestled in between.
- If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #tetalizza