Hungary is justly renowned for its baked goods, and dobostorte, probably inspired by Turkish layered pastries such as baklava, is one of its best and arguably the favorite. This famous seven-layer cake is purportedly named after a nineteenth-century Budapest pastry master, but the idea of thin cake layers sandwiched with creamy frosting dates much further back. This version uses thin sponge cake layers complemented with a rich buttercream. To create a batter with proper consistency, it is preferable to weigh the flour and sugar. Since most home ovens heat unevenly, it is advisable not to bake too many layers at the same time.
- Chocolate Buttercream:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled, or 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons rum or kirsch (optional)
- 6 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon (9 ounces) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, measured by dip-and-sweep method
- Caramel (optional):
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
To make the buttercream: Stir the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, or 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. In a slow, steady stream, pour the hot syrup into the eggs, beating continuously as you pour. (Do not let the syrup touch the beaters or it will spin into threads.) Continue beating until the mixture thickens and cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Beat in the butter and shortening, 2 tablespoons at a time, until absorbed. Gradually beat in the chocolate. Blend in the vanilla, salt, and rum if using. Do not add the flavoring too quickly or the buttercream might curdle. Chill until of spreading consistency, at least 2 hours or up to 1 week. If the buttercream firms too much, return to room temperature before using, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottoms of several 9-inch round cake pans and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Or grease and flour several large baking sheets and, using a 9-inch saucepan lid or springform pan, mark 9-inch circles on the sheets.
To make the batter: Beat the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt. Sift the flour over the top and carefully fold it in. Spread about 1/4 cup of the batter evenly over the bottom of the prepared pans or over each circle on the baking sheets. Bake until the edges begin to color, 5 to 7 minutes. Loosen with a spatula, invert onto a rack, and let cool. Wipe the pans, regrease, dust with flour, and repeat until there are 7 or 8 matching layers.
To make the caramel if using: Stir all the caramel ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the syrup turns a deep amber color. Do not burn. Using a lightly oiled metal spatula, spread all of the caramel evenly over one of the cake layers. Let set slightly (do not let it harden), then use an oiled knife to cut just the caramel into 8 to 10 wedges (indicating where the cake will be sliced).
To assemble: Place a cake layer on a serving plate, spread with 1/8-inch thick layer of buttercream, then place a second layer on top. Repeat layering the buttercream and cake layers. Cover the top of the cake with buttercream. If using the caramel layer, place on top of the cake. Cover the sides of the cake with buttercream. Chill. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day or in the freezer. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Oblong Layer Cake: Divide the batter between two 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch jelly roll pans and bake. After cooling the cakes, cut each lengthwise into 3 equal pieces to make a 6-layer cake.
A Cook from Portland, OR on 06/01/05
Is delicious but took some learning (and initial frustration) to make it work. Icing was easy but the cake part was a bit tricky for me. Made this two times unsuccessfully - determined to make it work because it was for someone who has fond childhood memories of the cake - and on the third try was successful with the cake layers by using the alternative recommended method of cutting out 9" parchment rounds, buttering & flouring them, and then baking them on cookie sheets. Takes a number of cooling racks to make the transfer out of the oven successful. Also, took much more than 1/4 cup to cover the parchment - probably closer to a 1/2 cup but there was enough batter. Found it easiest to prepare all the parchments on the cookie sheets first and then bake them quickly in succession. Had no trouble with two cookie sheets at a time (2 per sheet) if I rotated them halfway through baking. Didn't bother with the caramel topping option because the friend I was making it for said it was never on the NYC versions she grew up with.
A Cook from Fairfax, Virginia on 04/18/05
To the professional cook from Peterborough: note that the recipe says to cook the batter on the BOTTOM of the cake pans. That means you must turn the pan over, using it as a small round cookie sheet. The extra batter will dribble over the side a bit, but it's easy to shape this way and slides off nicely. Don't over-butter the pan or it will slide off too much before it cooks.