Adventures in Baking: Dobos Torte Recipe

The Dobos Torte named after its creator József Dobos is a cake of legendary status in Hungary with its 6 layers, chocolate butter cream frosting and caramel topping.

The Dobos Torte named after its creator József Dobos is a cake of legendary status in Hungary with its 6 layers, chocolate butter cream frosting and caramel topping

Regular readers will know that I am not much of a baker primarily becasue I don’t have a sweet tooth but I am determined to improve but my decision to try a legendary Dobos Torte Recipe (pronounced dobosh) is definitely one of those kill or cure moments.  I will not lie and say this is easy, but judging by the Oo’s and Ahh’s made by the people it was served too it was effort really well spent.

As neither my wife or I hanker after sweet food, desserts tend to by cooked when we have visitors and the return of a couple of British people to our village meant a wee cook out and a rather brave or stupid decision to take on this recipe.

When I say that the Dobos Torte Recipe is something of a Hungarian legend I really mean it as a result there is not a single coffee shop or cafe that will not have one or several of these in pride of place. Having made my own all I can do is doff my cap at the craft involved.

I was under the impression that the Dobos Torte was named as it looked like a drum as the Hungarian word for drum is Dobos and it would seem many folk on the web think the same too.

However the original dobos torte recipe was developed by a József Dobos which would probably be a much more sensible origin for the name.

I do love the story behind the original dobos torte recipe, it was developed for the National Exhibition of 1885 for Franz Joseph I and Empress Elizabeth to much success. He even traveled globally on the back of it introducing the cake where ever he went.

Apparently back then butter cream was very much a rarity that he kept top secret until he retired in 1906 when he donated the dobos torte recipe to the confectioners chamber of industry where it became a matter of public record and the secret was uncorked. Allowing the Dobos Torte to become the legend it is today.

The Dobos Torte named after its creator József Dobos is a cake of legendary status in Hungary with its 6 layers, chocolate butter cream frosting and caramel topping

Anyway, enough of the history lesson lets get back to how this novice baker got on with this Dobos Torte recipe. Well the blunt answer to that was terribly to begin with, I had been using a book called Culinaria Hungary which has been translated to many languages and the English version is translated pretty poorly.

However the problem, I had was not with translation but with quantities. Once I had made my first layer it became patently obvious that there was something wrong, there was just nowhere near the sort of quantity of batter required to make up 6 layers of sponge.

Not being a particularly confident or experienced baker I naturally assumed the problem was in something I did. But as time went on I had come to the realisation that I had been duped and would need to start all over again.

I was buoyed by the fact that the sponge was incredibly light and really beautiful and the butter cream was smooth dark and unctuous. As a result I spent the evening of bake number 1 with a calculator and a piece of paper trying to scale the recipe.

On to day 2 of my adventures in baking and the by now rather intimidating Dobos Torte recipe armed with my incredibly complex mathematics I entered the furnace of our kitchen. I went at it again knowing that I only had a short window to get it right as our guests were coming for dinner that night.  Well it went like a dream, hard work and precision yes but actually second time around really simple.

Even the mercury rising to 38°C outside and working in a kitchen with the oven on and no air con barely raised a single curse word out of me.  If I was to be completely honest I would actually say I really enjoyed the process, eventually. Although am glad I don’t have a sweet tooth or stuff like this could become a regular occurrence, there was many a kind word said about the cake which was ready when our friends arrived.

This sort of cake is the ideal accompaniment to a cup of coffee, sponge that is as light as a very light thing, and the bitter cocoa I used in the butter cream matched perfectly well with the over proofed rum. It created a very grown up chocolate feel to the whole cake and the crispy crackle of the caramel layer on top is just pure genius.

Overall I would say I am really proud of this, sure it is not quite up to the legendary Gerbaud Cafe standard but for a dude who does not really bake and does not have a sweet tooth it really was a show stopper, and trust me if I can do it anyone can!

The Dobos Torte named after its creator József Dobos is a cake of legendary status in Hungary with its 6 layers, chocolate butter cream frosting and caramel topping
Dobos Torte

Dobos Torte

Yield: 12 Servings
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

The Dobos Torte named after its creator József Dobos is a cake of legendary status in Hungary with its 6 layers, chocolate butter cream frosting and caramel topping.

Ingredients

For the Sponge Batter

  • 8 Eggs
  • 200 g Caster Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Sugar
  • 1 Lemon, Zested and Juiced
  • 160 g Plain Flour

For the Butter Cream

  • 200 g Caster Sugar
  • 300 g Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 80 g Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Dark Rum

For the Caramel Topping

  • 150 g Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

For the Decoration

  • 75 g Almonds

Instructions

Instructions

    For the Sponge Batter

    1. Preheat your oven to 200°C
    2. Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks with the 100g of the caster sugar until it changes to a pale yellow colour and has increased in volume by about half
    3. Add the vanilla sugar and lemon juice and rind and fold in
    4. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks and remaining caster sugar until the mix reaches a firm peak
    5. Fold the egg white into the mix ensuring that you do not knock the air out of the mixture
    6. Finally fold in the sifted plain flour until the mix is combined
    7. Now it is time to break out the baking parchment, you will need 6 pieces with circles 23cm in diameter drawn on them
    8. Measure out 1/6th of the sponge batter which should amount to approximately 125g of batter and spread to fill the circle on a piece of baking parchment using a spatula. This should be around 5mm thick
    9. Bake in the oven until it starts to brown at the edges which should take about 10 minutes
    10. You can get a nice production line going whilst one is cooking, prepare the next and swap the one in the oven with the next ensuring you remove the baking parchment from the cooked cake immediately
    11. Place the cooked sponge cakes on a cooling rack until completely cool
    12. Repeat this process until all of the cakes are cooked

    For the Butter Cream

    1. Place the sugar in a pan with 7 Tbsp of water and bring to the boil, as soon as the syrup boils remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes
    2. Meanwhile mix together the softened butter and cocoa powder until completely combined
    3. Add the sugar syrup to the butter & cocoa mix mixing continuously until the mixture cools to room temperature
    4. Add the rum and mix until combined and the refrigerate until it become almost the same texture as peanut butter

    Assembly

    1. If you are anything like me then you sponge cakes will not be very uniform so create yourself a circular template and trim the up, the off cuts are awesome!
    2. Save the best looking piece for the final layer
    3. You are no read to begin dressing the cake, take the first layer and smother with a layer of chocolate butter cream trying to keep it smooth and as uniform as possible at about 3mm thick, place the next layer on top and repeat
    4. This process should be undertaken with 5 layers with the 6th being left for the final caramel layer
    5. when you have completed covering all five layers with butter cream spread the remaining on the side trying to create a cake with corners as square as possible
    6. Once this is complete place into fridge and we can dress the final layer of the cake

    Final Dressing

    1. Place the final layer of cake onto a piece of baking parchment
    2. Add the sugar and the lemon juice into a frying pan over a medium high heat until it reaches a golden brown caramel colour ensuring you do not stir until the caramelisation process has begun
    3. Once the caramel has formed you need to pour over the final layer working quickly to ensure it is completely covered and spread evenly
    4. Whilst the caramel is still warm mark out where you are going to cut on the final layer (16 wedges so in half, then half again and then each quarter in half again) with a very hot knife that has bee dipped into boiling water
    5. When the caramel has cooled you can cut all the way through the final layer and trim away any bits from the edge
    6. Finally toast off the almonds and blitz to make a coarse crumb
    7. Remove the butter creamed cake from the fridge and apply to the edges of the cake and then rearrange the caramel layers on top of the cake and serve to the baying crowds who will be amazed!

    Notes

    I am sure experienced bakers or ones with double ovens could cut the preparation and cooking time in half!

    Adapted from Culinaria Hungary

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 524 Total Fat: 28g Saturated Fat: 14g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 178mg Sodium: 82mg Carbohydrates: 62g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 47g Protein: 8g
    Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

    35 thoughts on this Recipe:

    1. Wow! For an occasional baker you outdid yourself there Brian! This cake looks scrumptious! Although it involves a lot of prep you make it sound easy enough to make, I really want to try and make it!

      Reply
    2. This looks absolutely amazing Brian, we used to eat it as children as well it’s absolutely delicious and worth every effort. My grandma used to make it and we were so excited every single time- I remember thinking how can she put so much effort into something that was smashed and was disappearing in a flash. Your recipe and pictures look amazing almost convinced me to try it. ??

      Reply
      • Thanks Ramona, it is certainly an undertaking but one that is achievable and most definitely a head turner 😉

        Reply
    3. Hat off for you Brian! I’m Hungarian and like baking but never ventured to prepare this cake (by the way TORTA – with an A at the end) because it is extremely difficult. (We left beautiful West Midland for good and are back to Budapest.) Eva

      Reply
      • Haha, sadly I need to please Google to get readers so need to use the E ending on Torte rather than the Hungarian A 😉 I like to challenge myself in cooking occasionally so this was a good option for that, learned a lot and will never look at it the sane when I order it in a coffee shop again. I’m sure Budapest has welcomed you back home with open arms, have fun.

        Reply
    4. Pingback: 15 Decadent Chocolate Recipes for Valentine's Day
    5. Pingback: Coq Au Vin or Chicken in Red Wine | Krumpli
    6. Pingback: Holiday Cake Round-Up - The Gluten-Free Foodsmith
    7. This looks advanced for a novice baker with out a sweet tooth for sure. I enjoyed the journey through the various stages of this masterpiece. Thanks for the history lesson. it’s fun to read about where you live and how things are there!

      Reply
      • Thanks Diane, I like to challenge myself occasionally and I can only cook cakes when we have guests as otherwise they would go to waste as neither myself or wife eat much sweet food… The air turned blue a few times on my first effort but once I had got to grips with it then it was quite a simple task.

        Reply
    8. This Dobos Cake looks so delicious! I have made one quite a few years ago when I was part of gourmet group. It was a big hit! I want to try this recipe because it is very impressive.

      Reply
      • Thanks Linday, it is certainly a bit of a show stopper although as a novice baker it certainly increased the grey hair count 😉

        Reply
    9. This looks pretty amazing. Even though I’ve been to Hungary I don’t remember seeing this. Then again, I don’t really have a sweet tooth. Interesting to know how to create the top of cake. Easier when you know how. 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks Jonny, I’m with you on the lack of a sweet tooth… However when we have guests the first place they want to go is a cafe and soak up the dobos torte love 😀

        Reply
    10. Just saw your post on my FB news feed and couldn’t stop myself clicking on the link. It looks and sounds absolutely delicious and the most interesting bit is its historical connection. Not a huge fan of caramel though, but I think I am happy with the rest of the recipe, will definitely give it a try. Thanks for sharing such a vintage recipe!! 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks Krati… I agree about the story around it, I had not realised until I started doing some research on the recipe, it is really rather cool!

        Reply
    11. Wow… Mr. Jones, you have completely grabbed my attention with this. Looks like it’s from a magazine shoot! I’m heading off to pin and tweet this one. I think it’s worth the extra attention. Yummmmmmm!

      Reply
      • Cheers Byron, the shots were a little rushed as the cake was only just ready in time for our guests after having to redo the recipe. The joys of being a novice baker 😉

        Reply
    12. Its really nice to learn about desserts from other countries. I definitely have a very sweet tooth and am drooling! Dobos torte is just too tempting. Bookmarking this recipe. May try it out one fine day.

      Reply
    13. I think it was sure a brave idea to try!
      I loved reading the history of this beautiful cake..for a non-baker or otherwise, this definitely is an achievement.
      I am.not a baker myself and posts like these are both intimidating & inspiring.

      I am really intrigues by the lemony caramel there..sounds like a a riot of flavours.
      great job Brian.

      *Yummed it*

      Reply
      • Thanks Roy, Hope you give it a try… The secret is all in the preparation, get everything ready first and it becomes much easier 😀

        Reply
    14. Wooooooowwwwwwww, you have every right to be proud. I am a seasoned baker with a sweet tooth and I’ve never attempted this. It looks fantastic and sounds divine. Interesting to hear a bit about the history too.

      Reply
      • Ha ha, thank you… It was a challenge, but I quite enjoyed the process despite the heat of the kitchen, it definitely fits into the mould of a proper grown up cake 😉

        Reply
    15. This sure is a gorgeous looking dessert and I really enjoyed reading your post; very informative and hats off to your patience! ?

      Reply
      • Thanks Madiha, patience is not one of the virtues I am overly blessed with but really glad I stuck with it… Made everyone smile a lot which is all you really want when cooking!

        Reply

    Leave a comment