Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge With a Touch of Color and Whimsy:)

In April I made a 12 layer cake for my husband's birthday that looked similar to this torte, so I thought for this creation I would add a little fun by baking up a rainbow of colors! (I had seen some rainbow cakes on other blogs and loved how they looked!)
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

In keeping with the color scheme, I decided to make the frosting pink, so I used white chocolate instead of dark chocolate. I usually don't care for white chocolate, but it actually tasted pretty good in this instance. I also didn't have any hazelnuts so used white chocolate chips as a garnish. As you can see my frosting did not set up very well:( This was my second attempt with the icing, and though it was yummy in that it tasted like(and had the consistency of) vanilla pudding, it was still too thin. My first time around I was in a hurry and shortchanged the cooling process, so figured that was the problem, but the second round I took my time and that didn't help:(

I started this torte by dividing the batter into 6 separate bowls and adding gel coloring to each one. To make it easy(and less time-consuming) to bake the thin layers I used 3/4 cup of batter in each disposable pan:) This step worked out really well!

In my dreams I had planned on shaping clouds or hearts out of the caramel...something to go along with the rainbow theme, but alas, it was not to be:) It ended up like shards of glass! The only history I have with making caramel is homemade caramel corn(which always turns out great), but this behaved a lot differently. If I had not waited until the day before the deadline perhaps I would have invested more time and given the caramel another try. As it is, I feel like I barely made it to the finish line!
Though I am not a fan of sponge cake(too eggy and too spongy) I was pleasantly surprised when I cut into the torte and a beautiful rainbow appeared:) Very pleasing to the eye.

Angela and Lorraine...Thanks for a real challenge! I didn't do it justice, but I had fun trying. This aspiring baker has much to learn!


The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.
Lorraine and I would like you to make this famous cake which we chose in the spirit of being Daring and Challenging us. Variations are discussed at the end of this post and as always, if you have to make substitutions for dietary or financial reasons, that is fine.
  • 2 baking sheets
  • 9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
  • mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
  • a sieve
  • a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
  • a small saucepan
  • a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
  • metal offset spatula
  • sharp knife
  • a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.
  • piping bag and tip, optional
Prep times
  • Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
  • Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
  • Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
  • Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes
Sponge cake layers
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt
Chocolate Buttercream
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
Caramel topping
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)
Finishing touches
  • a 7” cardboard round
  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts
Directions for the sponge layers:
NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.
1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.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 (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)
4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar 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. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup 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. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.
1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk 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.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.
Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!
Directions for the caramel topping:
1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. 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.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.
Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.
Assembling the Dobos
1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.
Shape: The traditional shape of a Dobos Torta is a circular cake, but you can vary the shape and size if you want. Sherry Yard in Desserts By The Yard makes a skyscraper Dobos by cutting a full-size cake into four wedges and stacking them to create a tall, sail-shaped cake. Mini Dobos would be very cute, and you could perch a little disc of caramel on top.
Flavour: While we both love the dark chocolate buttercream and this is traditional, we think it would be fun to see what fun buttercreams you all come up with! So, go wild! Or, you could brush each layer with a flavoured syrup if you just want a hint of a second flavour. Cointreau syrup would be divine!
Nuts: These are optional for decoration, so no worries if you're allergic to them. If you don't like hazelnuts, then substitute for another variety that you like.


  1. Your cake is just way too cool... very..very creative :)

  2. Oh what do you mean you didn't do it justice? It looks amazing! I absolutely love your rainbow colours-it made me smile :D

  3. it's beautiful!!Love the colors.Great job!

  4. I love you rainbow colored cake! It's gorgeous!

  5. LOVE the rainbow!! Just gorgeous and so creative :) Love the ROYGBIV *high fives for the correct color spectrum*

  6. That is sooooo adorable! I tried to make a mulit-colored cake, but made the frosting colored instead of the cake! This would have been a much better idea! Good job!

  7. Fantabulous, your Dobos is officially the most stunning multiple colored scrumptous torte! Kudos..


  8. O.K. It’s official you win the prize for the cutest Dobos Torte! Awesome cake! You are very creative! Great job!

  9. OMG, when I got to your page, I was mesmerized by the rainbow of colors! What an absolutely creative idea! Beautifully done, so cleanly executaed and and eye catching!

  10. Oh wow, what a great idea! Love the rainbow...and your caramel came out great, too!

  11. Ohh wow!! just the love the beautiful colored layerz just amazing! and thanks for dropping by..

  12. Wow! This is so beautiful. Love the idea and executed perfectly. It looks really neat against the black cake tray. Awesome job!

  13. This is so lovely! The layers look beautiful! I could stare at them for hours!

  14. I LOVE this cake! The colors are awesome and it has so much fun and wimsy. Great job! I think any child would want to eat that...and adults because you know something that fun has to be delicious!

  15. wow, rainbow-colored dobos torte, I agree with the above comments, yours is the cutest, the prettiest.. :)

    -- Olive

  16. WoW !! Just awesome idea and execution! Im in awe of you :)

  17. I love it Mom! It looks so great and it turned out beautiful!!

  18. GORGEOUS. I love the colors! I am not sure if I would have the patience for this though haha what a cute blog you have here :)

  19. LOVE your colours! It looks so cheerfull :) and sooo yummy! You did a fantastic job. Cheers :)

  20. That torte is sooooo COOL! I just love the rainbow of colours. I'd love to cut into it with an audience to see their reaction.

  21. This is by far the most colorful dobos torte I have ever seen. What a fun idea!

  22. That cake is gorgeous! great job! I love how you did pink frosting, it made it that much prettier :o)

  23. Wow this cake is favulous beautiful bright and happy like a rainbow, great idea

  24. Just got around to seeing this now, but that cake looks awesome!

  25. Just used this idea for my daughter's birthday! Thank you!

  26. Thanks for all the sweet comments you leave on my blog! I love this cake...been wanting to try one myself.

  27. I love this, but I certainly don't have the patience for it! Props to you!

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