Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Dobos torte is a five layer sponge cake filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with wedges of caramel. There are many ways to change this recipe, but I stuck to the recipe.
This cake was very labour intensive. It took me two days to complete the whole thing since I didn’t have a full day to devote to baking. The recipe starts of with six cakes that you make by smoothing batter onto traced parchment. I used the bottom of a torte pan as my outline. The batter was really easy to make, although I did like having to use six eggs. Cholesterol city! The batter was light and airy thanks to the whipped egg whites. The layers were baked for 4 minutes (I guess my oven is hot) and then I peeled them off the parchment and wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge until the next day.
The second night of baking I started on the buttercream. I was a bit nervous about making the buttercream, since I couldn’t use real butter. I used dairy free hard margarine, which has the same fat content as butter, so I figured I’d be safe. I also didn’t have superfine sugar. Loblaws changed their sugar provider, and I haven’t been able to find superfine sugar at my store. Stupid Loblaws. I used regular sugar (which Red Path calls Special Fine-which it’s not) and the recipe turned out fine. I don’t know why you would need superfine sugar since the sugar gets dissolved in the egg mixture anyway. I used dark chocolate for the buttercream since baking chocolate has milk ingredients in it. The icing was so rich and creamy. I loved it! The hard margarine performed just like butter did when I made a traditional Swiss buttercream. I have to say that the buttercream was my favourite part of the torte! After I made the buttercream I put it in the fridge to harden a little while I prepared the cakes. I trimmed each cake to size and selected the best layer for my caramel topping. The caramel topping didn’t work out the way I had hoped. It took forever to turn ‘amber’ and the lemon juice was so overpowering I couldn’t stand to eat more than one bite. In the end I used it anyway, since I wanted to keep the look of the cake as accurate as possible. Once the layers were cut, I filled and stacked the layers and gave the whole thing a coating of buttercream. I arranged the caramel wedges on top and propped them up using cashews, since I didn’t have hazelnuts.
Dobos Torte was a fun, albeit long process. It was an okay cake. I probably wouldn’t make this cake again. It was good, but it was no Bakewell Tarte! As for substitutions for dairy, all I needed to do was omit the butter and replace it with margarine.

-2 baking sheets
-9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
-mixing bowls
-a sieve
-a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
-a small saucepan
-a whisk
-metal offset spatula
-sharp knife
-a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a springform tin.
piping bag and tip, optional

Sponge cake layers
-6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
-1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
-1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
-1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour
-pinch of salt

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over .
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)
4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Chocolate Buttercream
-4 large eggs, at room temperature
-1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar I used regular white sugar and it was just fine.
-4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
-2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) hard margarine, at room temperature

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Caramel topping
-1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar I used regular white sugar
-12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
-8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice I would probably use half that amount
-1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower) I used canola oil

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Cut into 12 equal wedges.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool completely.

Assembling the Dobos
1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Strawberry Pie

I love strawberries. I love pie crust. Mix the two together and you get a very awesome summer pie! I discovered this recipe one summer after a friend brought us a pie that his mom had made. I found a similar recipe in the Joy of Cooking for a glazed berry pie, and modified it slightly to make it like the delicious pie I had previously enjoyed. The recipe is very simple and doesn't have too many ingredients. It is best made with fresh strawberries, so I tend to only make it during strawberry season, which sadly doesn't last too long around here. The best thing about this recipe is that it's totally dairy free. If you used a gluten free pie crust it could be gluten free too.
Strawberry Pie
-one single crust pie crust. I use the Crisco recipe. Baked
-6 cups strawberries or red raspberries
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup cornstarch
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup water
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

1. Hull the strawberries and cut the bigger ones in half. Measure 4 cups of berries and place the remaining 2 cups of berries in a bowl. Blend remaining two cups using a blender or food processor until smooth.
2. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium sauce pan.
3. Whisk in 1/2 cup water.
4. Stir in the pureed berries and lemon juice.
5. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
6. Arrange berries cut side down in the pie shell. Pour the berry mixture over the top of the berries and place in fridge for at least 4 hours.

The berry mixture will become gelatinous as it cools and it holds the berries together so it doesn't ooze when you cut pieces of pie. I'm not usually a fan of pie, but this one rocks. The berries soften a bit after the warm mixture is poured over top, but after it cools in the fridge it's a refreshingly cool summer treat!