Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dobas Torta

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.

The last time I attempted a multi-layer cake, I had issues with stacking the layers and getting a nice cake shape. Guess what I had issues with this time? The same thing, only worse since there were more layers!

Additionally, making the layers for this cake was quite difficult for me. It involves lots of parchment paper, drawing circles, pouring/spreading batter, multiple timers and shelf rotations...and not really knowing how dark to let a layer get before it was done. I think I should have cooked most of my layers longer because they were extremely sticky still when cool and stuck to everything. (I also realized afterward that I had forgotten the vanilla to flavor them, but luckily they still had a good flavor.)

There was no way I was going to be able to trim the 9" rounds into perfect 8" rounds, just keeping them whole was challenging my skills. Plus I used a large plate to flip some of the layers off the parchment paper and one layer stuck firmly to the plate. Since there was no way to remove it, it became the bottom layer. I toyed with the idea of trimming the rounds, but my layers were too delicate and sticky. It just wasn't going to happen without shredding them - which meant I would destroy the circles I had so carefully kept whole coming out of the oven!

Making the buttercream went a lot better, but I should have chilled it longer before assembling the cake. It was still a bit runny and slid all over the place. My cake frosting skills are not the best anyway, so this became quite the challenge.

The caramel came out extremely lemony and hard to eat for us. No one liked the flavor, and it seemed incongruous with the rich chocolate buttercream flavor. At least in making the caramel layer I succeeded pretty well. Though I suspect maybe my caramel had caramelized too much perhaps and the fact that I used store bought lemon juice may have affected the flavor as well. Extra pieces of caramel were twisted to try and make decorations but they proved too soft and chewy to hold much shape.

With no hazelnuts or almonds on hand to decorate I used the extra buttercream to make some rosettes to dress it up a bit, but I think nuts would have been lovely. My dinner party guests loved the cake, the rich buttercream and light cake layers are very delicious together, even if not aesthetically stunning.Would I make it again? Maybe. The buttercream I would use again, perhaps a different recipe for the cake layers. No caramel layer though.

Thanks to the hosts for a great Daring Baker challenge! It stretched my skills and introduced me to new things. It was great fun to say I was making a Hungarian dessert! For the recipe, visit the hosts' blogs, linked at the beginning of this post. Make sure to visit other Daring Baker blogs to see some awesome cakes made by all the amazing Daring Bakers out there.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mock Tom Ka Gai (Coconut Lime Chicken Soup)

I had a friend make this for us while she was visiting and it is amazing. We could not stop eating this soup; it is delicious! Quick and easy if you have cooked chicken on hand.

1 lb chicken meat cut into strips or shredded (she used a roast chicken from the store and pulled the meat off )
2 (14 oz cans) coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup rice
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced green onion or lemongrass
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Bring coconut milk and chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat, add ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, cayenne, rice and chicken meat. Simmer 10-15 minutes until rice is done. Add scallions and cilantro and serve hot. Enjoy!


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