"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chocolate Orange Dobostorte

There are cake recipes, and then there are cake recipes. Chocolate Orange Dobostorte is a project for a serious baker (or somebody in a serious baking mood) and for somebody branching out with their baking skills it requires faith and boldness.

Gosh, Melissa--you sound so serious! I hear you say.

Well, it's true. It also requires a serious chunk of your time, because this cake took me 4+ active hours to make.

This is why it requires fortitude:

1. cake is baked in thin layers on the bottom sides of pans. Not your usual MO in cake-baking land.

2. buttercream, although worth every second of effort you put into it, is time-consuming and has a few scary moments for the easily intimidated.

3. ditto for caramel.

If you don't have a standing mixer, this would be a good time to invest in one! For the buttercream alone it was on for about 20 minutes.

OK, but let me begin at the beginning, with the cake layers. Dobostorte is composed of (in this recipe) 9 crepe-thin layers of cake. The batter is like sponge cake batter--a yolk/sugar/orange zest base with stiff egg whites folded in. Then you flip 8 inch cake pans over, and put the batter on the bottoms, spread to the edge, and bake for 6 or 7 minutes.

Part of the fun of this procedure is figuring out how much the batter will spread. I overshot my first few...

Luckily, this batter produces a tender yet flexible cake layer that was easy to trim with scissors. Here's the stack:

So now what?

Now you make the buttercream. I've actually made buttercream frosting three times in the past couple of weeks and by now it feels familiar. If you've never made meringue-based buttercream (and please don't be fooled by "buttercream" recipes that call for things like cream cheese or crisco. It ain't the same.) this is how it works. First of all you have to have absolutely room-temp butter. MY butter happened to be frozen (zoinks!) so I put it into a very low oven for a while. It did melt a tiny little bit but the whole of it got heated enough so that by the time I was ready for it the texture was just right.

You whip egg whites (in this case two, which worried me because I didn't think the KitchenAid beaters were low enough to really get them)...

and at the same time you make a simple syrup (remote thermometer, I love you). When it hits the right temp, you pour it slowly into the bowl while the beaters run, and then let it go until it cools down. This batch took about 10 minutes (this is not a recipe to make while you're listening to a book on tape) but I've made batches that took 20.

Once it's cool, you chuck in the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon. This is where it gets dicey for the faint of heart, because at one point it looks seriously ruined in a yucky curdled way. But it all comes together in the end, at which point you pour in melted chocolate (which you have already melted and cooled).

There's your buttercream. But you ALSO need a boozy syrupy glaze for the cake layers. Enter orange marmalade, a little water, and Grand Marnier, which you combine and push through a fine mesh sieve.

Are you still with me?

OK, here comes the layering part! You get a cake stand, put a little dab of buttercream down to anchor your first layer, and off you go. Like this:

cake layer
brush with syrup
put in the fridge for 3 minutes

take it out
spread 2 heaping tablespoons choco buttercream frosting
put a layer on top
brush with syrup
put in the fridge for 3 minutes


And now? Now you frost it and it's done?

Not so fast, Sparky.

Now comes the top layer, which is coated with the caramel you're about to make.

Faithful readers and other Gourmet bloggers know that caramel is a big theme in this book. Well, not so much a theme as a favorite flavor. I would guess that in the past few years of cooking with and blogging about this book I've made caramel about...15 times. Easily.

So here's some more caramel, which you pour over one of your cake layers (which is on a baking rack over tin foil). Here I had some trouble--the caramel at first poured too quickly so it ran off the sides and onto the foil (and not evenly over the cake). So I got it off the foil and remelted it in the pan, and tried again, but this time it was a little too viscous and wouldn't spread out the way I wanted.

Oh, and also you're supposed to score the top lightly with a buttered knife to make cutting easier, because basically this is now a caramel flavored candy disc with a little cake underneath it. Which will be the top of your cake.

And now...we're really in the home stretch. The caramel layer goes on top. Your 1/3 cup reserved chocolate buttercream frosting goes around the sides. And your toasted hazelnuts (forgot to mention those, but by this time you've toasted, cooled and chopped them) get pressed around the sides into the chocolate buttercream.

Alas, dear readers, I can't tell you how this cake tasted (though I tried all the components) or even if it was easy or hard to cut, because I made it to be served at a luncheon on my day off. My counterpart Miranda will report in and I will tell ALL.

UPDATE: Miranda reports...

"Your cake was great!! It was not only easy to cut through but looked beautiful when sliced. The layers were perfectly spaced with the right amount of frosting or was it ganache? The orange flavor was strong and the overall cake was very moist. It was worth the time for sure."


Eve said...

was this for the luncheon yesterday? it looks amazing!!! :)

Ruth said...

All that work and you couldn't taste it?