Monday, December 26, 2011

Lazy Woman's Dobostorte

Being in love with all things Hungarian (even an American bass player who is 1/4 Hunky), I decided that this would be the Christmas that I would get around to making this iconic dessert for said bass player's family. I am, however, the even more iconic fat, lazy American, so after having made thirteen types of cookies plus seasoned nuts and having volunteered myself to make falafel with tahini sauce for the gathering of my in-laws (did I mention that I adore Middle Eastern food, too?) as well as a Christmas morning breakfast of boozy oranges, baked Scotch eggs and cinnamon biscuits for the immediate family, I searched for a shortcut that would conserve both time and effort without going too far astray from the classic concoction. I ended up combining two recipes I found via the Web and one of my Taste of Home holiday cookbooks.

The layers of a Dobostorte are basically thin versions of sponge cake. They are very eggy and lack leavening, depending on beaten eggs for lightness. I decided to use a recipe for some sort of one-layer sponge-type cake in order to approximate the texture of the cake rounds. I didn't feel like separating and beating eggs a lot, so I went a step further in laziness and used a (more or less) one-bowl génoise recipe from the late 1800s that I found on Wikipedia. (I've "translated" it into modern cookery speak.)

The chocolate buttercream frosting is done with no shortcuts, but even it is easier than it looks, provided you've already learned a few basic baking skills. The caramel glaze is even simpler; since you're applying it to a frosted cake, all you do is drizzle it on and even it out a bit with a spoon.

You can feel free to garnish or decorate the cake as you wish to pretty it up, but I like it as-is.

Lazy Woman's Dobostorte

Serves 8 (or more--it is very rich)

For the Génoise:
  • 1 3/4 c. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. plus 2 T. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. (8 T. or one stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 to 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. strong coffee (not cold)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan (I like to cut a circle of parchment paper to fit inside the bottom and grease it, too, just to simplify the removal of the cake). In a small bowl, combine melted butter and vanilla. In a large bowl, beat together flour, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer on the highest speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. (You can mix this by hand, but you must do so very briskly; prepare your arm for fatigue after five minutes straight of heavy exertion.) Fold the butter-vanilla mixture into the batter very gently. (It is very important to fold the mixture in gently because if you stir it in rudely, your egg mixture will deflate and therefore fail to perform in the oven--i.e., be gentle or expect your cake not to rise.) Pour combined batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes or until the cake tests done and is a golden yellow/light brown on top. (It's okay for the génoise to be just dry--the finished product will be plenty moist!) Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes.

After this time, invert the cake twice so that the top is facing up, peel parchment (if using) from the bottom and allow cake to cool completely. When the cake is cool, use a fork to poke holes in the cake in several places on the top. Slowly pour the coffee over the holes in the cake, allowing time for the liquid to be absorbed and keeping the coffee from spilling over the sides. Moisten the entire cake in this manner (you may not need the entire amount of coffee--you're not trying to make the cake soggy). Allow cake to sit long enough to absorb the coffee well, about an hour.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1-3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 7 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, softened
(You will end up making more frosting than what you need, but what the heck? Save it for a later use, or give it to the neighbor's kid and watch him drive his parents nuts.)

In a small saucepan, melt chips with coffee and sugar; stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. Add a small amount of mixture to egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 minutes or until mixture is thickened and reaches 160°, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl with a whisk attachment, beat butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in chocolate mixture. If necessary, refrigerate until frosting achieves spreading consistency. (If you refrigerate the frosting for too long, it's easy to soften it up again; just stick it in the microwave for ten seconds at a time until it's spreadable.) Frost cake.

For the Caramel Topping

  • 12 caramels (the soft, chewy kind, not hard candy)
  • 7 teaspoons evaporated milk

In a small saucepan, melt caramels with milk. Remove from the heat; drizzle evenly over the top of the cooled, frosted cake. With a tablespoon (the eating utensil, not the measuring instrument), carefully spread frosting to cover the cake evenly. (It's okay if it doesn't reach the edge--it probably won't--just so long as it is neat-looking and distributed so that each potential slice has an equal amount of caramel topping.) Allow to cool before cutting into slices.

This was rather admired by my boyfriend's family, and I was asked for the recipe. For my next trick, I will attempt to make this masterpiece low-carb, for all you Hunky peeps who are diabetic and/or who are against the whole concept of stuffing your faces with copious amounts of sugar and refined starches. Stay tuned.

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