Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Baker Challenge--First timer!

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.
This was a good challenge for me to start with, not tooooooo intimidating like the croissant challenge would have been, but definitely something a little challenging, something I could sink my baking chops into.

I learned many new skills in the making of this cake. I have always wanted to try making a sponge cake, but I'll admit that I don't usually have the patience to do all the necessary steps with the eggs, but since J bought me the KitchenAid one fine Mother's Day I have been more adventurous in the realm of egg beating. Not technically challenging to make the cake batter, but I was nervous so I used my food scale and weighed all the ingredients instead of relying on volume. I find this more important in desserts and especially cake batters. I was very glad that I did, as the caster sugar required for the cake batter was noticeably less in the measuring cup.
Oh and PS finding caster sugar last minute is both heinously difficult and expensive! 5.99 for 1 lb of sugar. Sigh. But due to the risk of having sugar dust in the air, I opted to buy caster sugar instead of trying to make my own. Also, as I still don't have a sexy food processor, I wasn't keen on pulsing sugar in my minichopper.

I also opted out of spreading the batter into a circle. I don't trust my batter spreading skills THAT much, so I baked my layers in cake pans lined with parchment for easy removal. This worked out well and I'm glad that I went with my gut instinct.

Next up was the buttercream. I'll admit I think that I did something wrong here. Cooking the eggs on the stove was a bit tricky. I was using my handmixer to "whisk" the eggs over my double boiler and somehow managed to pop the cord on the element and partially melt the cord. After I thickened the eggs to my best guess, I mixed in the finely chopped (courtesy of my visiting friend Megan) Vahlrona dark chocolate.
Then added the softened butter. My frosting ended up....mostly thick, but not at the consistency I would have liked. I don't know if I didn't cook the eggs long enough or the weather/humidity got me down.
Chocolate Buttercream on spoon
BUT! This was the best tasting frosting I have ever eating. Heck, this may be the best chocolate edible thing I have ever eaten. Wonderful.

Lastly, I attempted the caramel. I gotta say, I was not a fan of the directions or the ingredients. As someone with VERY limited sugar experience, and my last sugar experiment was a huge burned disaster I would have appreciated some sort of time frame or temperature to cook the sugar. My best guess was not accurate. I ended up with some sort of thick sticky syrup. My bad, but still.
Also, the lemon juice with the half formed caramel tasted like a honey lemon cough drop, not exactly elegance on a plate.
Overall I was not as appreciative of the caramel in this instance.
For my finishing touch, I toasted pecans and added them to the top of the cake.
I'm not going to delve into the caramel disaster. I only put the caramelly cake pieces on the top of the torte for looks. My guests and I picked them off and licked the buttercream off. That's how good the buttercream was!
Dobos torte, sliced

Overall, this was a very fun and huge learning experience for me.
Many thanks to our lovely hosts for choosing this awesome and history making dessert!
For the recipe, click here


Lauren said...

I need to live closer to you.

Leeshy said... want to try to torte that badly? :)

Annie said...

Yeah. Me too!

Megan Lewis said...

I have to agree with you there. It was very good chocolate....