Dobos Torte Recipe

Of all the recipes I’ve found for Dobos Torte (and there are a lot of them out there), this one from Maida Heatter is the one that strikes me as the best blend of original intent and modern taste. For more rationale on that, see this week’s posts. For now suffice to say I think it’s a winner, even though it doesn’t include the caramel top (I plan on adding that, just because I think it’s nifty — sorry Maida!).

For the cake:

7 eggs, separated
3 egg yolks
1 pound (3 1/2) cups confectioners’ sugar
4 ounces (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling and frosting:

10.5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
10.5 ounces (2 sticks, 5 tablespoons) butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

For the caramel layer:

5.25 ounces (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
16-20 peeled hazelnuts

Start by cutting seven pieces of aluminum foil or parchment paper, each about 11 inches square. Using a cardboard cake circle, pan lid or plate that’s 9 inches across, draw circles in the middle of the squares. Flip the sheets over, grease the area of the circle plus about another half inch all the way around for safety. Lay the parchment pieces out and sift powdered sugar over them. Tilt the sheets to get the excess off, and set them aside. (See, I told you this was going to take a lot of counter space).

Set a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 450. Sift the flour and salt together. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the 10 egg yolks on high for a few minutes until they’re pale and lemon-colored. Reduce speed and gradually add the powdered sugar. Increase the speed to high again and beat for 5 minutes or until very thick. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the flour. Scrape the bowl, then once again increase the speed to high and beat for 5 minutes more, scraping once or twice. Stir in the lemon juice and remove the mixture to another bowl.

Clean the bowl and the beater. With the whisk attachment, whip the seven whites with the salt to the stiff peak stage. Stir a few spoonfuls of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the rest of the whites.

To bake, place two or three spoonfuls of the batter on each sheet, spreading the batter very thin with an icing spatula or the back of a spoon. Slowly rotate the sheet with one hand as you spread, being careful not to leave any holes. Using the edge of the counter, slip the sheets onto a cookie sheet and bake 5 to 7 minutes (or longer) until the layers are golden brown with dark brown spots. Remove the finished layers from the oven and, holding the corners of the sheets, invert them onto a rack. Peel off the paper and immediately invert the layer onto another rack or towel that’s been dusted with powdered sugar (otherwise the tops of the finished layers will stick to the rack). The fully cooled layers can be stored in a stack, provided they’re separated by sheets of powdered sugar-dusted wax paper. Trim the edges of each one up with a pizza cutter, using your original form (a cake circle or plate) as a guide.

For the filling/icing, chop the chocolate and melt it in the microwave using as many 10-second bursts of high heat as are needed (stir between each). Allow it to cool completely, though not to the point that it re-firms, obvioulsy. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the beater (paddle), cream the butter. Add the vanilla and egg yolks and beat well. Next add the sugar and the cooled chocolate and beat it all until thoroughly mixed (don’t forget to scrape!).

To assemble, choose a cake platter or build the cake on a cardboard cake circle. If you’re using a platter, lay down thin strips of parchment paper in a box roughly 9 inches square. These will serve as your drop cloth. Put a layer down on the plate and spread on a very thin layer of filling. Add another layer, making sure it’s placed in line with the one under it. Add another layer of filling. Continue on in this way until you’ve used all the layers, save one, if you’re planning on doing the caramel top. Otherwise spread the last of the filling over the outside of the torte.

For the caramel top, place the last cake layer on a sheet of parchment paper that’s been lightly greased with cooking spray or vegetable oil. Combine the caramel and water in a small pan and swirl over high heat until it turns amber. Very carefully, pour the caramel over the cake layer and promptly spread it with an icing spatula. Spread it right over the edges of the cake layer (you won’t use all of it). Again, quickly but carefully, cut all the way around the edge with a pizza cutter to make the caramel layer circular. Then, using a large chef’s knife, cut the cake layer into wedges (cutting across in half, then across into quarter, across into eighths and finally to sixteenths). Let cool completely.

To finish, arrange the caramel/cake wedges on the top of the cake, tipping the edge of each one up and propping it with a hazelnut to create a fan blade-type effect. Refrigerate the cake for at least several hours prior to serving to firm the icing. It will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

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26 Responses to Dobos Torte Recipe

  1. Lynn T says:

    Living in Maryland, this puts me in mind of the Smith Island Cake — multiple thin layers of yellow cake with a boiled-chococolate frosting.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88412262

    Lynn

  2. Laura says:

    The last time I made Dobos Torte, I baked the batter in two half sheet pans, then sliced each layer into four rectangular strips. This made a rectangular cake (about 4″ x 12″). I frosted 6 layers, then caramel glazed the remaining two. The best caramel pieces went on top.

    According to George Lang (The Cuisine of Hungary), when you make the cake this way it is called a Dobos Strip rather than a Dobos Torte.

    I like the look of the cake this way, and it much easier to bake.

    • joepastry says:

      That’s a time-testing and thoroughly legitimate way to make this cake. In fact, it’s how more than a few pastry shops do it. Thanks again, Laura!

  3. Jeanne Smith says:

    My grandmother was a cook for Romanian royalty before immigrating to the US in the early 1920s. She made this cake for us all the time. She used coffee instead of lemon juice. Had a few other alterations as well. Most memorable: she baked the layers on the bottoms of inverted cake thins, which made paper thin layers – a lot more than seven!

    • joepastry says:

      Very interesting, Jeanne! Thanks very much for the email…I’ll remember that technique!

  4. Lindsay says:

    My family makes this cake every year at Christmas. Our Hungarian grandmother taught us her recipe. It is very similar to your recipe, however, We don’t put any lemon juice in the batter. We put lemon juice and coffee in the icing/filling! And like the previous post, we also use inveted round cake pans. We coat the bottoms of the pans with crisco then flour and spread the filling out with an inverted spatula. After they are baked, we carefully scrape them off with a large knife. Lots of work, but well worth it!

  5. Lindsay says:

    Oops, I meant we spread the batter on the pans!

    • Jeanne Smith says:

      My grandmother taught me to use paraffin on the cake tin bottoms. The tin would be heated, rubbed with paraffin and then turned over (right side up) . A little cold water would be poured ( from the faucet) into the tin to cool the tin and set the wax. Spread the batter, put it in the oven for a few minutes. When the layer is done, remove the tin, quickly “slice” off the layer with a large knife, wipe off any crumbs, and rub the still hot tin with paraffin…
      I just might try cooking spray and flour – probably easier.

      • joepastry says:

        Love that, Jeanne! It’s always fascinating to learn these sorts of ingenious techniques from yesteryear. I greatly appreciate your email!

        - Joe

  6. aggi says:

    WOW! best recipe ever!! i have seen a few recipes but never actually attempted it before until i came across yours with easy to follow instructions and great photos!! and success!! my parents (we are hungarians living in australia) were amazed! the dobos was exactly like the ones we’ve had in hungary!after finding this recipe ive been looking at your other recipes and techniques and cant wait to try more. have you thought about publishing all this info and recipes in a book?? i would definitely buy! at the moment im printing stuff out as i go but it would be great to have your cookbook!!!cheers, Aggi

    • joepastry says:

      Aggi, you have truly made my day! Thank you for your very kind note. I’m gratified that this worked for you and that your family was pleased. Being Hungarians, I especially value your opinions. Are you going to try the Rigó Jancsi cake next?

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  7. aggi says:

    yes, Rigo Jancsi and chimney cake (although im waiting for hubby to make me the spit!) have been printed off and on my ‘to do’ list:) at the moment im trying to tackle croissants for which ive got a craving! i attempted it a while ago and whilst it tasted good it didnt rise and i had mini croissant bullets (heavy and dense), so now ive got your recipe and tips on how to fold and and incorporate butter hopefully ill be more successful! ill keep you posted! cheers, Aggi

    • joepastry says:

      Pease do Aggi! Glad there’s another dough laminator in the world! Cheers,

      - Joe

  8. Lynn says:

    I’ve made this before; I was in middle school and still learning the difference between salted and unsalted butter…lets say I made two. Totally worth it; I lost the book I was working from and forgot the name of the cake, so I’m thrilled to see it here. Definitely going to be a staple in my repertoire.

  9. Mari says:

    I am from st Louis and we had a Very successful bakery in Clayton that closed, that we used to dobish torte from that was fantastic. Theirs was a loaf type probably 8 layers with caramel on the top. It wonderful, even the memory makes my mouth water. I am going to try yours since I can’t taste theirs any longer and yours sounds the closest to theirs. A big thank you,m

  10. years ago,when I forty-years of age,,Maria,our tenant from Hungary,made this torte for me as a present,,I don’t remember the caramel bit, but I remember the lovely layers of filling which wasn’t over sweet.. When she was younger, she was the pastry chef for the Astor family in Knightsbridge ,,,London…is this a story,or what..yours truly Querino

  11. hyedenny says:

    Beating the flour for 5 minutes in the batter doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me! That would activate the gluten and make the cake tough. You MIGHT be able to get away with that if you used cake flour…

    No butter in the cake batter? This sounds like an interesting recipe!

    • joepastry says:

      You need the extra beating because of all the fat in the yolks…some activated gluten is necessary here. Trust me on this, it works!

      - Joe

  12. Mary says:

    I am unsure about where to add the salt. The directions say to sift with the flour, but later say to whip with the egg whites. I am baking this with the “help” of a 2 and a half year old so I could very well be missing something obvious! Thank you!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Mary! Sifting it with the flour is the thing to do. I can’t find the spot where I say to add it to the egg whites, but when I do I’ll delete it. It’s not wrong necessarily, but it IS confusing! Sorry!

      - Joe

      • Mary says:

        Thanks, that is what I did. It’s funny, I first came across your recipe and it had pictures, then I could only find this one. Do you have 2 versions maybe?

        Here is what it said:”Clean the bowl and the beater. With the whisk attachment, whip the seven whites with the salt to the stiff peak stage. Stir a few spoonfuls of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the rest of the whites.”

        Anyway, the torte was a success! It was my brother’s request for his birthday and other than my caramel cracking when I tried to separate my triangles more, it was great! I did two half sheet pans and a rectangular cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe and your techniques!

        • joepastry says:

          Hi Mary!

          Maybe you found this one via search? I generally put up both a text recipe and a photo tutorial, then put them together in the menus on the left so that when you click you get both. But I’m glad it ended up working so well!

          Cheers,

          - joe

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