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.
I’d been doing so well with my baking challenges, I thought a few months ago I’d try the cooks’ challenges. The first month’s challenge was macrobiotic somethingorother. No thanks. I declined. The second month was a Spanish dish with cuttlefish. Huh? I bailed on that one too. So when I saw this multilayered cake that was presented to us for August, I thought, Finally, something I can get excited about!
The finished product looked complicated, but a review of the recipe didn’t scare me, so I figured I could ace it. In fact, I figured I’d make it for my husband’s birthday.
It started out okay. I used cake pans lined with parchment paper to make the six layers of sponge cake. I was nervous about that, because the recipe wanted me to spread the batter onto circles drawn onto parchment paper without pans. After my misshapen Milanos last month, I decided I’d take the chance on pans. They turned out fine.
Then I prepared the chocolate buttercream. I’ve never made a chocolate buttercream with eggs before. Tempering eggs always makes me nervous, despite the fact I have a 100% success rate. I know I’m bound to mess it up one of these days, so I’m always a little uneasy about it. Again, success. And the chocolate tasted SO good. I’ll definitely use this recipe the next time I want to dress up a cake with chocolate buttercream.
The caramel is what got me. The recipe called for water, sugar, and lemon juice. Water (and lemon juice) in caramel? Oookaaay. Comparing notes with a friend who had already completed her challenge, she mentioned she’d burned her caramel. I was kind of paranoid about doing the same, so I ended up not cooking it *enough*, and ended up with a syrup.
One layer of cake had to be sacrificed for another attempt at the caramel. This time I used NO water or lemon, just sugar. And it turned out fine.
Except I got distracted after I poured it, didn’t cut it into wedges right away, and it turned brittle FAST. I heated up a knife under hot water, oiled it, and did my best to cut through it without cracking it too much. Not too bad.
It tasted fine, though probably not something I’d repeat. However, the combination of the hazelnuts and luscious buttercream reminded me a lot of Nutella, which gave me ideas for future baking projects. Unfortunately it wasn’t much of a birthday cake. “It’s a torte, not a cake.” So next year I’ll make his favorite – German Chocolate – and forego any fancy experiments for a birthday celebration.