What is Dobos Torte?

That’s a bit of a long story, but for the moment suffice to say it’s a chocolate layer cake with an awful lot of layers. Don’t worry those of you who hate difficult, horizontal slicing, there’s no cutting involved. Rather, the layers are made individually, sort of like a set of baked pancakes. Which means there’s a lot of extra baking involved. That gas bill is no big deal right?

After a fair amount of research and mulling, I’ve decided to do Maida Heatter’s version, since it’s my belief that it’s probably one of the closest to the original in spirit. Dobos torte, though it’s a favorite in Viennese pastry shops, is actually Hungarian in origin. And while the Viennese tend to make theirs with frillier, egg foam buttercreams, Hungarians are a little more no-nonsense about these sort of things. Plus, there are historical reasons why I think a frosting-style filling is more apropos in this case. But more on that later.

As an addition to the Heatter version, I think I’ll do the caramel top, which is probably something the Viennese added to the presentation to make it more attractive. This will make mine something of a hybrid as Dobos Tortes go, but then you regulars know that I’m not a great believer in the concept of authenticity, at least as it applies to food. Better, at least in my mind, to try to capture the intention — then make it taste good.

9 thoughts on “What is Dobos Torte?”

    1. Hey Melanie! I’ve tried to think up ways to do that, but so far haven’t come up with a method that could be easily replicated at home. Not that I’m not interested in trying it!

  1. When at school ( CIA ), we had a Baumkuchen machine. I had the honor of being able to use it. It was a fun and interesting experience. Not having one of these machines at home,I ‘ve replicated the layering by using a cake pan and a broiler. Putting a thin layer of batter on the bottom and cooking it under the broiler. Doing this, layer after layer created tree rings when done, just that the rings were going in a different direction when cut. I don’t have the cash or the room for a Baumkuchen machine so this was an acceptable substitute.


    1. Hmmm…that’s an interesting solution. You’re right, it’ll make a stack of layers instead of a tree-ring type cake, but it’ll taste great I have no doubt!

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  2. I love baumkuchen, though I’ve never had it in Germany. It was very popular in Japan. I have made a version in a cake pan, by layering plain and spiced batters and broiling them. It was rich and delicious.

  3. A while ago I found a recipe for an Indonesian Spice Cake (aka Spekkuk Bumbu or Thousand Layer Spice Cake), which was made by pouring a very thin layer of batter in a baking pan, baking it, taking it out of the oven, brushing the top with butter, pouring on the next very thin layer of batter, baking, etc., etc. It ended up as a wonderful five “layer” cake. I had never heard of this before and so I put Google through it’s paces, and it eventually led me to both the Dobos Torte and the baumkuchen. In fact, Mr. Pastry, I believe we had a bit of a discussion on the subject! This is a similar recipe: http://asiasociety.org/style-living/food-recipes/recipe/desserts/indonesian-spice-layer-cake-spekkoek

  4. Sherry Yard’s book, The Secrets of Baking has a brown butter baumkuchen recipe. She does it by baking a thin layer in a cake pan, then putting in a cup of batter and baking it, and then another cup and so on.

    It looks fairly easy, although time consuming.

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