August 27, 2009

Dobos Torte - A Hungarian treat!

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.

So, what is the Dobos Torta (or Torte) ? 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.

I was really excited about this challenge and attempted it early in the month. Once again, because of time constraints, I decided to go with individual servings of the cake. I halved the cake recipe and the buttercream recipe in half. The individual layers were baked separately. I marked 10 circles on parchment paper using a 2 1/2" round cookie cutter. About 1/4 cup of cake batter was spread on the parchment paper a bit larger than the cookie cutter outline. The cake circles were baked until they turned golden brown along the edges. The excess batter was spread as a rectangle for the cake-topper cutouts. Once the cake circles were baked and cooled, they were cut-out into uniform circles using the 2 1/2" cookie cutter so that the circles were uniform and even.

The preparation of buttercream went well, but I felt that the buttercream was a bit too thin (liquid-y). I refrigerated the buttercream for quite a bit before spreading. The circles were stacked on top of each other with a layer of buttercream icing in between. Because the buttercream was so soft it was tough holding the stacks together. I put the cake stacks in the freezer for a while. Once they were manageable, I put a toothpick through the center to hold the layers together.

The cake was frozen most of the time before it was eaten. I could really make the buttercream smooth and beautiful while decorating but I decided to put a ribbon around the cake just for presentation purposes. One of the stacks were done with a ribbon around it, and the other was done with two thin strips of ribbons.

I wanted the caramel coated cake piece to be stiff so that it would stand up on top of the cake. Instead of the caramel covered cake wedges, I cut out a piece of cake from the rectangle cake made from the excess batter and coated in caramel. The caramel was made by heating sugar with a bit of water until the melted sugar turned dark brown. The caramel was poured on top of the cake cut-out and allowed to harden.

The cakes were decorated with the caramel cake cut-out, chocolate pipings, chopped and whole hazelnuts and chopped almonds.


We really enjoyed the Dobos torte, it was amazing!! They were actually fun to assemble, except for the fact that the buttercream was a little too soft. But it was sooooo delicious. This is the first time that I made buttercream icing with eggs. The flavors went well together especially the buttercream and the hazelnut combo. JM mentioned that he wouldve loved a bit of chopped hazelnuts between each cake layer. The whole thing was so delicious, our individual cakes disappeared in a couple of minutes. My only suggestion would be to moisten the cake layers with a flavored syrup/juice before stacking, as I found them a little chewy and dry. But all in all, the textures and the flavors went extremely well together especially the toasted hazelnuts with the buttercream icing. One more amazing challenge that I am happy about!!

I had some buttercream icing left over which LM really enjoyed the nest day as an awesome bread-spread, yes a spread for bread!! Actually I enjoyed the sandwich just as much as lil LM.


  • 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 3/4 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. 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.


I (Angela) am quite happy to store this cake at room temperature under a glass dome, but your mileage may vary. If you do decide to chill it, then I would advise also using a glass dome if you have done. I should also note that the cake will cut more cleanly when chilled.


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.

Egg concerns

The cooking process for the buttercream will produce lightly cooked eggs. If you fall into a vulnerable health group then you may wish to use an egg-less buttercream.

Hope you all liked my version of Dobos torte. If you would like to see how I did in my previous DB challenges, click here. Please do take a moment to go through some of the fellow DB members blogs.

Thank you for visiting me today. Have a great day!!

August 14, 2009

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto - A first on Tasty treats!!

Today I have a new recipe for you - a Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto which is a first on Tasty treats. Read through the post to know about my interest in risotto.

After watching Hell's Kitchen for a couple of seasons, I was fixated by Gordon Ramsey's obsession with risotto and its preparation!! Having never tasted a risotto before, I was wondering why he is so particular on its texture and outcome. Anyways, it is not such a presentable dish at all, even if a five star chef prepares it, so what could be so hard in preparing the seemingly mushy rice dish!? But I just couldn't be far from wrong! I learned it the hard way, I prepared my own risotto at home, without a tried or tested recipe. The result was so good, sooooo good!! I have a new-found respect for risotto, its texture and the flavor combination that goes into it. So trust me, don't judge a book by its cover and don't judge a risotto by its looks!! I accomplished a couple of firsts - my first risotto and my first asparagus dish at home.

I found a recipe on Martha Stewart website and decided to adapt it to what I had at home. Sure, I tweaked the recipe to include some Italian seasoning, played with the proportion of ingredients a bit. The veggies I used were white button mushrooms and about 1/2 a bunch of asparagus (I guess my bunch was relatively huge). I also added a unique ingredient - a pinch of saffron- to the risotto. We are absolutely clueless about wines, so JM just grabbed a bottle of Pinot Grigio from the wine shop. I enjoyed the flavor of this particular wine, a lot. I also followed another advice on the internet - I used fresh Parmesan cheese grated just before use from a wedge of Culinary Circle Parmesan Cheese. The risotto turned so creamy and delicious as the cheese melted into the rice.

Recipe (Serves 3-4):

Arborio rice - 2 cups
White button mushrooms - 8oz, chopped into chunks

Asparagus - 3/4 bundle
Onion - 1 large, chopped
Garlic clove - 1 large, chopped
Italian seasoning - 1/2 tsp
Dry white wine - 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup
Vegetable broth - 1 can
Water - 3 cans (or as needed)
Extra virgin olive oil -4 tbsp, divided
Pepper - to season
Salt - to season
Parmesan cheese (culinary circle) - 3/4 cup
Butter - 3 tbsp
Saffron - a big pinch


Wash the asparagus stems and cut the tips off from about 2" from the top. Cut the rest of the stems cross-wise into small pieces.

Boil water and salt in a saucepan and cook the asparagus stems for about 2 minutes until they are tender crisp. Drain and keep aside.

Repeat with the asparagus tips and keep aside.

In a large skillet/pan, heat about 2 tbsp olive oil.

Saute the chopped garlic and onions until translucent and soft.

Toss in the rice and saute for a minute.

Add 1/2 cup white wine and reduce until the wine has almost evaporated.

Pour vegetable broth and wait until the broth is completely absorbed.

Repeat twice more.

Add a pinch of saffron and mix well.

In another skillet, heat olive oil and add the chopped mushrooms.

Season slightly with Italian seasoning.

Make the asparagus tips crisper in the skillet and keep aside for topping the risotto.

Crisp the asparagus stems slightly in the skillet and keep aside.

Toss in 2/3 of the sauteed mushrooms into the rice.

Add more vegetable broth or water as needed.

When the rice is 3/4 cooked, add about 1/4 cup of wine and allow to be absorbed by the rice.

Once the rice is al dente (or cooked to your liking), add the cooked asparagus stems.

Season with pepper and salt as needed.

Stir in the butter and cheese and mix well until melted.

Serve the risotto hot with the reserved mushrooms and asparagus tips on top.

Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

Inspired from: Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto on Martha Stewart website.

Hope you all enjoyed this delicious post. See you soon with another tasty treat!! Take a moment to check out the latest floral pictures from MN on "Through the looking glass".

Have a great day!!

August 10, 2009

Country Bob's All-purpose sauce

Hey everyone!! Glad to see you back at Tasty treats....

Today I would like to introduce you all to an awesome product : Country Bob's All purpose Sauce. Quoting from the Country Bob's website, to give you an introduction, "It was 1968 when Country Bob Edson perfected his steak sauce recipe and he called it an All Purpose Sauce because it was more than just a steak sauce. Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce has remained the flagship item since 1982 when Country Bob, Inc. was established".

I was sent two bottle of their delicious all purpose sauce to try and review. It arrived promptly, well packaged and tempting.

According to the Country Bob's website, "Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce is in a class by itself. It is more than a steak sauce, because of its unique flavor and the variety of uses. You can grill, cook, and marinate with it, or put it in your soups, stews, baked beans, and your other favorite dishes. Use our All Purpose Sauce on: Steak, Chicken, Barbeque, Fries, Hamburger, Fish and so much more!"

I had tried the sauce in a couple of recipes. The first choice ofcourse was Chicken wings tossed in the sauce. The sauce is thick and sweet and complimented the chicken wings very well. It is best enjoyed with a side of ice cold beer. The recipe for the Chicken wings can be found here. Toss the baked chicken wings in the Country Bob's All purpose sauce for an exciting taste treat!

The second recipe that I tried was the barbeque chicken pizza with mushrooms, green peppers and onions. I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe, especially the use of all-purpose sauce as the base. It particularly well complimented the pizza toppings and was really delicious!! I would say I liked this better than the chicken wings (which I never would've expected!!). The recipe for the pizza can be found here.

I would like to try a couple of more recipes with the sauce when I get some time, including Sloppy joes and a pulled pork sandwich. The only thing I would've preferred is the sauce to have a bit more kick on the spicy side which would've made it absolutely perrrrfect for me!!

Check out the Country Bob's All purpose sauce and more at Country Bob's place. I apologize for the big delay in posting this review, Mr. Malekovic. Thanks so much for your patience and support!!