Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Great British Bake Along: Hungarian Dobos Torte

This week was European cakes week on the Great British Bake Off - which sounds like an oxymoron, so that put my back up straight away.

What on earth is a European cake? It conjures up images of that 70s favourite, the black forest gateau, or a tarte tatin. All a bit run-of-the-mill, a bit boring. Not in the usual flamboyant style of GBBO.

Or so I thought.

So anyway, with a bit of perusal of the iPlayer site, I found out that the bakers would be making a Swedish princess cake for the technical bake and a variation on the Hungarian dobos torte (pronounced "dobosh" I believe).

The Swedish princess torte looked far too difficult, so I went for the Hungarian torte. There was an additional advantage to the torte; as some of you know, I've started a new job recently and Hungary is on my newsbeat. The cake was for a lunchbox party at work and it went down a storm there, but I wasn't quite so happy with it.

It was a difficult bake. It started with me giving myself blisters whipping buttercream, running out of cake batter and staying up until 1am to make six layers of sponge. And it ended with me quite literally hurling cocoa at the sides of a cake, whilst shouting the kind of words I wouldn't use on this blog, for fear of shocking any young readers. And vowing never to make a dobos torte again.

I've added some extra ingredients to this recipe, because I ran out of cake batter making it. The recipe instructed me to bake each sponge separately. Quite frankly, ain't nobody got time for that. I only had one sponge tin the correct size as well, so I elected to bake the cake in 3 batches and slice each in half. But if you have time or multiple 20cm cake tins I would advise you to bake each layer separately - I think it would produce a better result.

This is a recipe for a patient baker, I can't stress that enough. I am not a patient baker and the buttercream alone nearly broke me. The blisters on my whisk hand appeared within the first five minutes and the comments of my housemates on the colour, viscous nature of the mixture and the noises it made slapping against the side of the bowl did not help. Neither did switching on "Sexual Healing".

If for some bizarre reason you want to make a dobos torte, the recipe is as follows:

You will need:

For the buttercream:
150g dark chocolate
4 egg yolks
300g butter, softened and cut into pieces
2 tsp orange liqueur or flavouring
175g caster sugar
120ml water
disposable piping bag or icing syringe with star shaped nozzle

For the sponge:
250g plain flour
300g softened butter
300g caster sugar
50g cornflour
2 tsp baking powder
6 eggs
grated zest of one large orange
20cm cake tins, greased and lined

For the caramel topping:
175g caster sugar
6 tbsp water
a sugar thermometer (you can manage without)
an oiled knife
cooling rack

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and beat together the sugar, orange zest and butter for the sponge until light and fluffy.

2. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a tbsp of the weighed flour with each egg to ensure the mixture does not curdle, beating well after each addition. Sift in the rest of the flour, cornflour and baking powder and fold into the mixture

3. Measure out the batter into 6 equal parts and bake each layer in a cake tin for 15-20 minutes before sealing in an airtight tin or box, each layer separated by greaseproof paper. Choose the best looking layer and reserve it for the top of the cake.

4. Make the chocolate buttercream by bringing the sugar and water to the boil in a pan and boil until the temperature reaches 110 of the mixture thickens to a syrup - do not allow to caramelise. Beat in the syrup into the egg yolks, pouring it into the egg yolks and whisking furiously at the same time until mixture is cool, thick and of a mousse like consistency.

5. Add the butter in small pieces, beating to incorporate. Melt the chocolate and cool as much as possible without allowing to harden and beat into buttercream mixture. Add the orange flavouring and mix in.

5. Line a cold cake tin with several sheets of clingfilm. Put a layer of  cooled sponge in the cake tin and spread with buttercream, then repeat until all but the best-looking layer is used up.

6. Set the layer of sponge of a cooling rack, with a sheet of greaseproof paper underneath to catch any drips, Prepare the caramel by heating the sugar and water in a pan until bubbling rapidly. Do not at any point stir or the sugar will crystalise. Watch the caramel closely until it turns golden brown (the second picture below) - the difference between it being perfectly done and burnt is a few seconds and burnt caramel smells really horrible and will ruin your pans.

7. Pour the caramel over the sponge layer and score with the oiled knife, dividing into 12 slices so the cake will slice more easily.

8. Place the caramel glazed layer on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to spread on the sides of the cake and pipe around the edges of the final layer to decorate.

The cake should cut to reveal 6 clearly defined layers. While I won't pretend my torte was as pretty as those on GBBO, it did have 6 separate layers of orangey sponge:

If you're a regular reader you may notice that I've been cutting and pasting the instructions on how to make caramel from the same recipe in my archive for a few weeks now.

I make NO apologies for this. It's very boring typing out instructions on how to make caramel repeatedly. In fact it's nearly as boring as making caramel.

Anyway, that's the last European cake I'm going to be making for a while and certainly the last dobos torte for a long time. Join me next week for more Bake Off fun. It's pastry week - anything could happen.

Edit: Since making this, I've done a little more research and seen the GBBO bakers making dobos torte. Many of them used a fatless sponge, using eggwhites to increase the volume of the sponge mixture. If I make this again I will almost certainly use a fatless sponge - the added volume from the eggwhites would hopefully keep me from running out of batter and I love recipes that require you to separate the eggs but still use up all the yolks and whites. They're just so neat!


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