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db: the dobos torta

August 27, 2009

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… and this time, I was a part of it.

 dobos torta daring bakers challenge

For a long time now, I’ve dreamt of being a Daring Baker. Someone who can effortlessly pull together a Yule Log in the dying moments before a Christmas Dinner. Someone who has made an Opera Cake. And a cheesecake. And tuiles.

So I gawked and dreamed and clicked my way through the hundreds of posts that would appear on the 27th of each month. And each month, I told myself “Next month I’ll join. Just to see. I bet I could. I hope I could…”

My life became entwined with wondering what would be up next month, and subconsciously making that very thing in the weeks before the reveal. A bevvy of tarts in June. A marshmallow frenzy in July. And a big fat layered cake in August.

dobos torta daring bakers challenge

So you can imagine my chargrain / delight (to this day I am not sure which one I was feeling) when I signed up, logged on and realised that luck had struck again. There would be not one, but two layered cakes in my life this month.

Tell you what, someone did not want me making this cake.

The dramas started early. I’d decided to go with a coffee flavoured sponge to complement the bitter chocolate buttercream and to balance out the sweetness of the dulce de leche layers I was planning on sneaking in between the two. Coffee beans were grabbed and ground and brewed to an inky black. A phone call later, I’d scorched the coffee and had to start again.

No sweat. It was just coffee. I made it again.

The dramas swelled in size when I pulled my electric mixer out of its hallowed spot in the cupboard and flicked the switch to a deadly silence. No light. No sound. Cracked eggs and coffee and sugar already mingling in the mixer bowl.

“Who killed my mixer?!” I screamed. There was no answer.

I changed power points, flicked the switch again. Nothing.

“Fine then.” thought I, murderous thoughts on the brain, “I’ll just have to go out to the garage and grab the spare mixer.”

It was then that I realised that my mixer wasn’t, in fact, broke. But that the whole house was. Indeed, the whole neighbourhood. It was a Sunday afternoon. I had cracked my eggs, and I was sans electricity.

So I took a nap in my hammock in the sun instead.

whipped egg whites

When the power came back on, just over an hour later, I returned to the kitchen (slightly less enthusiastically than before) and made my mix. Trays were retrieved, silicone mats laid down, ice pulled out from the freezer for hasty cooling and tea towels laid out for hasty drying.

“The Dance.”

I started my oven. Or, at least, I thought I did.

I have an electric oven. I had no electricity. Again.

This time I was not so calm.

And so on, and so forth it went. The oven turned itself on. Then the first two layers stuck to the baking paper. (A little bit of minor cussing may have followed.) The next six, however, were far more co-operative, and it looked like my luck was on the rise.

My mixture survived the double blackout, and kindly decided not to collapse in the time it was made to sit before baking. My buttercream did not split, or melt, or flop around like loose cream and my caramel did not burn (nor did it set as hard as I was hoping it would, but I think that’s as a result of the recipe as opposed to general failure).

toffee on cake

In my impatience (remembering that I’d been working on this cake on-and-off for about six hours at this stage – breaks for dinner inclusive) I didn’t bother trimming the edges as thoroughly as I would have liked, nor did I let each layer set in the fridge with its buttercream topping before assembling the lot as I’d planned to do. So the layers droop a little at the edges and aren’t as straight as they could have been.

But I finished it. And I plated it. And (despite the mixed reactions to the cake itself) I’m proud of myself.

(I’m also terrified about what I just might have gotten myself into, but am planning on ignoring that until the next recipe comes out.)

dobos torta daring bakers challenge

The recipe for dobos torta can be downloaded from the Daring Kitchen’s website courtesy Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella: download the recipe.


  • #1
    August 27th, 2009

    OMG Shez, how many layers of sponge did you have in your torte? It looks fantastic! how great does the cake taste? I actually battled howard for the last piece. Ooh I can’t wait for next month’s challenge either, soo fun =D Btw I love the use of the raspberries, it went perfectly well with the torte.

  • #2
    August 27th, 2009

    Congrats on your first challenge!! You made so many layers!! Well done! I wanna see the whole torta :p The caramel doesn’t set probably, too much lemon juice in the recipe.

  • #3
    August 27th, 2009

    Haha omg that must have been so frustrating with the power going off so many times! It still turned out amazing though (so many pretty, thin layers!), congrats on your first challenge! How you described working up the courage to join Baker’s is exactly the same as what I did, but I’m a month behind you 😉

  • #4
    August 27th, 2009

    They’re not kidding when they say challenge in Daring Bakers Challenge, huh?

    The composition looks nice. Shame about the mixed reactions though. I hear that’s a fairly common theme with other people’s attempts at this.

    With this one as your first, the rest from here one should be a breeze. Hopefully…

  • #5
    August 27th, 2009

    Well done surviving a double blackout. I might have made alternate plans and done it another day. I am a rather superstitious person and would take the 2 blackouts as a sign!

    Simon, not true, in fact many loved the challenge 😉

  • #6
    August 27th, 2009

    wow, what an experience. at least you ended up with an attractive cake.

  • #7
    August 27th, 2009

    Welcome to DB (finally!) hehe. Despite all your electricity dramas, glad to see your cake turned out beautiful!

  • #8
    August 27th, 2009

    Beautiful cake! Welcome to DB!

  • #9
    August 27th, 2009

    It looks amazing wouldn’t have know you had any dramas! Well done on your first challenge and welcome to the Daring Bakers 🙂

  • #10
    August 27th, 2009

    You did a brilliant first challenge…with mini challenges thrown in like burnt coffee, long phone calls & no elec!! LOL…I thought I was the only one with outages! Gorgeoys stuff this torta is! Very very nice!

  • #11
    August 27th, 2009

    For all your dramas, you sure produced a beautiful torte!

  • #12
    August 28th, 2009

    I love your plated result! Congratulations on a stellar first challenge!! Looking forward to seeing your future entries!

  • #13
    August 29th, 2009

    It was worth all the grief. Beautiful looking cake, and I love the plating. Congratulations on completing your first DB challenge! Wonderful job (do I really see 12 layers? Wow, nice!).

  • #14
    August 29th, 2009

    what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger keke ;P

    nice looking layers that’s for sure mmm…

  • #15
    August 30th, 2009

    Wow you did a great job with your first Darking Bakers challenge. I have been thinking about whether to join. I love to bake but I just dont know if I’ll be able to make sure beautiful food. Your post has convinced me. Thanks..

  • #16
    August 30th, 2009

    Welcome to the DB group! How frustrating to have a spanner in the works when you’re raring to bake! I didn’t have any running water when I was all ready to start this challenge. It had me in a bit of a panic because I thought I’d never get it done on time.

  • #17
    August 30th, 2009

    Aww how beautifully you made it!

    “So I took a nap in my hammock in the sun instead.”
    I like that attitude LOL

  • #18
    August 30th, 2009

    Hey Shez!!!
    Glad you signed up for daring bakers! i always knew you would be a good baker judging from all the stuff you’ve made me drool over!

    Holy moly all those dilemmas during the baking processing im so glad your cake turned out beautiful! Goddayem those beautiful layers! Reading all these daring bakers entries are really making me crave chocolate cake

  • #19
    August 31st, 2009

    Hey Shez, that’s amazingly good for a first challenge! Love the perfect layers.

  • #20
    August 31st, 2009

    All the dramas aside, your torte looks lovely. I love the plating. Stunning

  • #21
    September 2nd, 2009

    First up, a big thank you for all of your super-nice comments 🙂 Makes a calamity-filled bakery stint all the more worthwhile!

    @Linda: Yep, there’s 12 layers of the sponge, as well as a 13th layer for the toffee topping… and that right there might just explain the bad luck I had!

    @Ellie: I took photos of the whole torta but it looked like a giant brown poo… not so appetising!

    @Steph: Ooh! Looking forward to this month’s challenge! (If only I knew what it was already…)

    @Anna & Laura & Asti: Thanks so much – this version of plating was a third attempt (that I then had to re-do because my pictures were all fuzzy) *sigh*

    @Katherine: Like Lex said, if it doesn’t kill you, it’ll only make you stronger. Or stickier. Whichever one appeals more 🙂

    @Y: Aurgh! How on earth would that be fixed? I was seriously contemplating going to a friend’s place, bowls & all by the time 4:30pm hit…

  • #22
    October 8th, 2009

    Congrats on your first challenge and under such duress wonderful effort. Cheers from Audax

Shez