Oh, maaaaan! This is what I get for pushing the DB project off until, literally, the last day. I got it started late last night, then finished it this evening, moments before we're supposed to run out to catch a movie. It's rushed, and not my best, but I served it to some friends at a get-together, and it was tasty:
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.
The recipe for this month's project is linked behind each hostesses' blog above.
Here are more photos and my baking notes after the jump.
I didn't want to make my cake too thin because I wanted more cake than buttercream. If I had a do-over, though, I would've paid better attention to spreading the batter evenly. Dobos Tortes are usually round, but the rectangular shaped suited the amount I wanted to make. The dropped corners show how much I misjudged the layers' thickness, though.
Before adding the butter, the chocolate mixture is thick and sticky. I wish it had stayed as such, since it seemed ready to slide off the cake. It didn't, but it did crack a bit after a night in the fridge and being brought up to room temp, and it seemed like the frosting wanted to break.
Once the sugar mixture starts to boil and I turned the heat to high, it only took a few minutes to achieve the amber color that meant the mixture would caramelize perfectly--harden to a crackly top, but without getting too dark.
I decided to skip the nut siding and props for the top caramelized layer. The top layer is instead propped with some leftover buttercream, and I used the leftover caramel to drizzle out some decorative siding.
I used Ghirardelli's bittersweet chocolate, but the frosting looks milky.
I actually preferred the clean look of the tort before I added the caramel sides.
The sliced torte, showing the five layers of vanilla sponge and dark chocolate buttercream, with the caramel layer on top.
This recipe was a bit more labor- and time-intensive than your run of the mill cake, but I had some shortcuts that helped me out when I finally decided to start working on the cake.
First off, I halved the recipe, since our get-together would only be with six people. It reduced very well.
I got most of it done two days before I needed it, starting with the buttercream, since the chocolate had to cool before adding the butter and the buttercream had to sit and thicken a bit before I could add it to the cake.
The butter that went into the buttercream needed to be room temperature so I could easily beat it into the chocolate. I forgot that I had only half a stick in the fridge and the rest in the freezer, so I nuked it in the microwave at 10% for 2 minutes. When it's just out of the fridge, I nuke it for 10% at 1 minute. It's the fastest way I know of to get butter to room temperature. To really speed it up, cube the butter into smaller chunks, which will allow you to nuke it for a shorter period of time.
As with any sponge cake, you have to be sure your egg whites are beaten well enough to stay poofy but not so much that they dry out. Beat the whites until you can turn the bowl of whites upside down and count to ten without them sliding out. I saw Rick Bayless do this on Top Chef Masters, beating the egg whites by hand, and it made me like him even more. One of my old pastry chef instructors taught me that if I had only had to do it by hand and had more than one balloon whisk available, I could hold 2 or 3 in one hand to beat the whites up much more quickly.
You can spread this cake batter quite thinly, but no matter how thickly you spread it, make sure you bake it long enough or the cake will be too moist. Moist cake isn't generally a problem until you get to sponge cake, which will end up sticky, and sticky sponge cake is difficult to work with when assembling a dessert like this.
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