Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

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 Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

The recipe for this month's project is linked behind each hostesses' blog above.

Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

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.
Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

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.
Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

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.
Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

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.
Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

I used Ghirardelli's bittersweet chocolate, but the frosting looks milky.
Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

I actually preferred the clean look of the tort before I added the caramel sides.
Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

The sliced torte, showing the five layers of vanilla sponge and dark chocolate buttercream, with the caramel layer on top.
Daring Bakers, August: Dobos Torte

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.

Check out my fellow DBers' projects on our Blogroll!
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Lovely Blog!

Blog awards are fun! Thanks to Amy over at CraftiFish for passing the Lovely Blog award down to me. I've taken almost a month to think of my favorite 15 lovely blogs. These are what I've come up with:

1. CraftiFish (Returning the favor--Amy shows her beautiful work here, as well as has a nice "weekly article" format where she writes on topics every week, often focusing on other fabulous vendors from around etsy and the rest of the Internet)

2. The Jolly Porter (I love his layout that shows all the things he loves, and he's a truly witty writer--his posts always leave me cracking up)

3. NieNie Dialogues (I fell in love with this one when I was buying my condo over 2 years ago--Nie puts beautiful touches over every inch of her house, and the clincher for me was what she did with some extra scrapbook paper against a yellow wall. It was easy to get caught up in wanting to follow her as she wrote about her love of life and everything in it, even on rough days. It took a turn when she was in an airplane accident that burned her over 80% of her body. She and her family are so amazing--in fact, The Jolly Porter is her brother!)

4. 101 Cookbooks (Good, healthy, natural food--Heidi's blog has been my source for years when I've wanted great recipes that made beautiful food)

5. The Girl Who Ate Everything (Funny as all get out, Robyn introduced me to some of my favorite food terminology, such as "nom" and "nom nom." I live vicariously through her blog as she eats her way around NYC)

6. Burnt Lumpia (As a fellow first-generation Filipino-American--meaning our parents are from the islands and we were born here--I'm always able to relate to Marvin's hilarious musings on growing up in a cross-culture household. He's getting in touch with his identity through food, and putting his own fabulous and talented spin on traditional Filipino grub)

7. Canelle et Vanille (My favorite blog for dessert eye candy, and my go-to girl for her citrus curd recipe)

8. Bent Objects (Funny, intensely creative and talented, kinda raunchy--one of my favorite spots throughout the week)

9. Kris’s Color Stripes (I could comb through her site for days. She takes images and objects, and turns them into color bars, like you could take your favorite childhood toy, find its colors, then take it to the Home Depot so you can buy paints based off it, then end up with, like, The Big Wheel Bedroom--very soothing)

10. Pain in the English (Nerd love here--it just speaks my language--ha!)

11. the affected provincial’s almanack (Allen literally finds the beauty and wonder around him and puts it out for all his readers to see. And he really is a gentle soul. Read his book!)

12. Tartlette (More yummy dessert eye candy)

13. Eating Asia (And food eye candy from afar--specifically, Southeast Asia--my parents' homeland. I love seeing how other cultures live and eat, and this blog helps me do that with amazing photography)

14. Borrowed Blue Photography (If I ever get married, or do anything important, or were found dead in the street--any way I could possibly be photographed, I'd want these photographers to capture it. I mean, if it had to be captured, and someone had to capture it. Or something.)

15. Design Sponge (More design goodness. I have zero knack for interior design, so I appreciate those who can do it that much more.)

To pass the award on, look no further than below the cut!
There be rules one must follow to board this ship:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
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