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Hungary: Dobos Torte

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From Hungary, introducing the Dobos Torte. This cake has a wealth of history attached to it, and it went on to become famous throughout the world. Invented in 1885 by the confectioner József C. Dobos, the cake was first shown at the 1885 National General Exhibition of Budapest, where some of its first samplers included Franz Joseph I and his wife. The cake used buttercream which was practically unknown at the time, and differed from the other cakes of the time due to its elegance and simplicity (in the case of mine,a rather more rustic elegance!). Dobos spent much of his time travelling around Europe, introducing this cake to different countries, resulting in the cake achieving international acclaim.


Dobos invented the cake and buttercream himself, keeping the recipe secret until his retirement in 1906. At this point he gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners and Gingerbread Makers Chamber of Industry, on the proviso that anyone could take advantage of the recipe. The recipe used for this cake is an adaption of Rick Rodger’s torte, taken from here.


This cake has a lot of components to it, but actually I was surprised to find that it doesn’t take that long to make. So don’t be put off by the daunting scale of the recipe – it is great fun to do, and oh-so-impressive when completed! As you can see from the picture below, my cake has 7 layers in it, however these are very thin layers which make it quite tricky to construct (let alone getting them off the paper in one piece – I originally made 14!) Make it easier on yourself and make the layers a bit thicker! I also used scissors to trim the layers into shape, as I found that worked far better than a knife.


As you can see, it is very rich and delectable, a real treat of a cake, and one that should definitely be in your reportoire! However, if you eat this and feel like your clothes are getting smaller, in the next post I’m going to be writing about some vegan desserts which I been working on, and am actually quite proud of, considering I’ve never had any experience in this field before. These probably can’t really be called healthy, but they taste as decadent as full-fat versions, but make you feel healthier, which can’t be bad!

Dobos Torte


Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 95g plain flour
  • 17g cornflour
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
  • 4oz (110g) good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 250g butter (at room temperature

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
  • 12 tbsp (180 ml) water
  • 8 tsp (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil

Finishing touches

  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts


The Sponge Layers (Can be prepared before hand and stored in the fridge)

Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C). 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.

Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow. (The whisk should leave a ribbon-like trail when lifted from the bowl.)

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form then beat in the remaining icing sugar until 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, before sifting half the flour over the eggs, and folding in. Repeat with the remaining flour.
Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a spatula, spread about 3/4 cup 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 (6 is a good number but if you have more batter, make more layers!). Completely cool the layers. Using an 8″ springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. I found a pair of scissors worked best for completing this.

The Chocolate Buttercream (this can also be prepared in advance)

Whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened. Place the bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (the water should not touch the bowl) and lower the heat to a 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. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a bit at a time. Chill whilst you make the caramel topping.

The Caramel Topping

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and butter the paper. Place a reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges.

Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the contents. 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. The caramel in the picture is probably a little over, though still very delicious – I think that’s a little too dark to be called ‘amber’. However, after tasting we decided that it really wasn’t an issue as far as taste went!

Ensure the cake layer is not too cold, or the caramel will set too fast. Pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer and quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using an oiled knife, quickly cut through the layer along the score lines, making sure that you use one clean cut. (If all else fails, I waited until it had cooled enough to handle and – again – attacked it with a pair of scissors! Not up to professional standards but effective!)

Assembling the cake

Divide the buttercream into six equal parts. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of the serving plate and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with the other layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake, pressing the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides. Prop a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, and arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern.

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