To close 2011 with the elegant Dobos torte

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The origin of the Dobos torte

Dobos cake was first introduced at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885; Franz Joseph Ist and his Empress Elisabeth were among the first to taste it. The cake soon became popular throughout Europe as it was different from all others. It was simple but elegant, as opposed to the multi-layer, flaming cakes of the age. Its other secret was the use of fine butter cream, which was very little known at that time; cake fillings and frostings were usually made with cooked pastry cream or whipped cream. The chocolate butter cream and the batter of the cake were both invented by Jozsef C. Dobos (1847–1924) the famous confectioner.

Dobos travelled around Europe and introduced the cake wherever he went. For a long time he kept the exact recipe confidential, until 1906 when he retired and gave the original recipe to the Budapest Confectioners’ and Gingerbread Makers’ Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

By today Dobos Torte is well known everywhere in the world and there are more than one hundred recipe variations. It is a commonly made torte in the upscale hotels, restaurants and pastry shops of all over the world.

The recipe

The torte is a five-layer sponge cake, layered with chocolate butter cream and topped with thin caramel slices. The sides of the cake are sometimes coated with ground hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts or almonds but the original cake is without coat, since it was a slice of a big cake. Dobos’ s aim was to make a cake that would last longer than other pastries, in an age when cooling techniques were limited. The caramel topping helps keep the cake from drying out.

Serves 12

Ingredients: 6 tbs unsalted butter, melted, plus more for baking sheets, 1 and hulf cup all purpose flour, plus more for baking sheets, 1 cup sugar, 6 large eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon pure almond extract, hazelnut simple syrup, caramell buttercream, caramel for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350, with rack in center. Butter two 12 by 17 inch rimmed baking sheets. Line bottoms with parchment paper, butter parchment, and sprinkle with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside. 2. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water, whisk together sugar, eggs, and salt until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. 3. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attahment, and beat egg mixture on high speed until very thick and pale, 6-8 minutes. Gently transfer mixture to a large shallow bowl. 4. Sift in two-third of the flour in two batches, folding gently after each addition. In a small bowl, combine melted butter and extracts, and add to egg mixture in a steady stream as you sift in the remaining flour, fold gently and divide batter between prepared baking sheets, smoothing tops with an offset spatula. 5. Bake until cakes are springy to the touch and lightly golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before inverting cakes onto rack, and remove parchment paper. Cut each cake into three 5 ¼ by 11 ¼ inch, rectangles. 6: lay one rectangle on a flat work surface. Using a pastry brush, soak with a little less than ¼ cup simply syrup. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 cup buttercream evenly over the top. Place another rectangle on top, and continue until you have five cake layers soaked with syrup and topped with buttercream. Spread remaining buttercream over sides of cake, and smooth the top and sides to form a neat block. 7. Regfrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle chopped caramel over the top.

Caramel buttercream

2 ¼ cups of sugar, ½ cup water, ½ cup of heavy cream, 3 cups of unsalted butter, room temperature, 9 large egg whites, 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium pan, heavy saucepan bring 1 ¼ cups of sugar and the water to a boil, over medium high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystals from forming. 2. Continue cooking, without stirring, until caramel is dark amber, swirling pan colour evenly. Remove from heat, and carefully pour in heavy cream in a steady stream stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let it cool.

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed until fluffy and pale, set aside. In the heatproof bowl of electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water, gently whisk together remaining cup sugar and the egg whites until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved about 3 minutes.

Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes. Increase speed to high, whisk until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to medium low, add butter, ¼ cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Switch to the paddle attachment. Add caramel mixture, beat on lowest speed until smooth, 3-to 5 minutes. If using the same day, set aside at room temperature, covered with plastic. Of refrigerate in an airthight container up to 3 days. Before using, bring to room temperature, beat with paddle attachment until smooth.

Caramel

Makes about 1 cup

Unsalted butter, for baking sheet, ½ cup sugar, 3 tbs water

Butter a baking sheet or line it with a silpat. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves, wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystals from forming. Continue cooking, without stirring, until caramel is dark amber, swirling pan to colour evenly. Remove from heat.

Immediately pour caramel onto prepared baking sheet. Let it until hardened and completely cool, coarsely chop. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use, up to 1 day.

Hazelnut syrup

Makes about 1 1/8 cups

½ cup of sugqar, ½ cup of water, ½ cup of hazelnut liqueur,

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring sugar and water to boil, swirling to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, cover and let it cool completely. Stir in liqueur. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and sttore in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

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