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Dobos Torte – Hungarian Cake

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One of the best cakes ever: traditional Hungarian Dobos Torte with several pastry layers and chocolate buttercream and a sinfully delicious caramel topping.

This Dobos cake is amazing, I am telling you! Not the quickest one to make, but so worth it!

Dobos Torte – Hungarian Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Caramel

Hungarian Dobos Torte

I mean, the Dobos torte is really not that difficult to make, but it does require a bit of patience; baking all those layers will take some time, and making the buttercream and the caramel also mean spending a bit of time in front of the stove. Nevertheless, the result will be one of the best cakes you have ever eaten.

I am really not a chocolate person, I rarely crave it, and when I do, it is mostly in the form of a cake, something like Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Cheesecake or this Chocolate Gateau. But, although chocolate is not my thing, not the way it is for most people I know, I swear I could eat a piece of this Dobos Torte once a week for the rest of my life!

You will not believe the taste of that chocolate buttercream (the best I have ever tasted), the creaminess and comfort of it, the crunch and deliciousness of that caramel topping – a chocolate cake dream come true!

Dobos Torte – Hungarian Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Caramel

History of Dobos Torte

According to Wikipedia, the Dobos Torte was invented by a Hungarian confectioner Jozsef C. Dobos in 1884. He “aimed to create a cake that would last longer than other pastries in an age when cooling techniques were limited.” The cake became so popular that it was ordered in cities like Vienna, Berlin, or Paris, and people were able to transport it there by a cart with horses, packed in wooden boxes filled with ice.

Jozsef C. Dobos kept his recipe secret for over 20 years and only revealed it in 1906 when he decided to retire. Therefore, many versions of it were born during this period of time.

Nowadays, people following the original recipe claim that the cake must have six layers of pastry made with eggs, butter, sugar, a little flour, and a pinch of salt. The upper layer must be covered in crunchy caramel, and the buttercream has to be made with butter and not margarine and has to use Belgian chocolate with 53% cocoa in it.

Well, I did not use Belgian chocolate but German chocolate (Amazon affiliate link). As I haven’t read the original recipe I am not entirely sure how close I’ve come, but I suppose pretty close; the cake was just soooo good! Recipe source: Savori Urbane (in Romanian).

Dobos Torte – Hungarian Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Caramel

How to make Dobos Torte?

The most important tip!!!

I would not attempt to bake this cake without a digital kitchen scale; the recipe is fairly difficult, and using cups won’t help at all (Amazon affiliate link).

Batter:

Ingredients: Six separated eggs, flour, icing sugar, unsalted butter.

bowls with egg whites and yolks, flour, icing sugar, butter on the table.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/ 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Separate the eggs.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff, add half of the icing sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. (1)
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small pan and let cool until you beat the egg yolks.
  5. In another bowl, beat together the egg yolks and the remaining icing sugar. (2)
  6. Carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. (3)
  7. Add the melted and cooled butter to the mixture and incorporate. (3)
  8. Carefully fold in the flour. (4)

collage of four pictures of beating egg whites and yolks, mixing them and adding flour.

How to bake the cake layers?

  1. Draw 6 circles of 22 cm/ 8.5 inches diameter on 6 sheets of baking paper. Use a cake ring to do it. (1,2)

collage of two picture of drawing circles on parchment paper with a cake ring.

  1. Weigh the batter into another bowl. Divide the quantity into 6 equal portions.
  2. You could do this only by estimating without the help of a scale, but I have never had good experiences with estimating; in the end, there is always a thicker or thinner layer than the others. So I prefer to be exact and use a scale. It does mean an extra bowl to wash in the end, but that is less annoying than having weird-looking cake layers.
  3. Place one piece of baking paper with the circle on it on a baking tray. Spread one portion of the batter on the circle you drew on the baking paper. Use a long batter spatula to do that and make sure that the batter layer is even. (1)
  4. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until golden. (2)
  5. Repeat with the remaining 5 batter portions. Let cool all of them completely.

collage of two pictures of spreading batter on parchment paper and the baked layer.

How to make the chocolate buttercream?

Tips before starting:

  • The egg mixture for the buttercream is made in a double boiler (bain-marie), and you will have to pay attention that the eggs don’t curdle. That is why stirring and very low heat are important.
  • When making anything in a double boiler, you should never let the water come to a boil; the water should be hot but not boiling. If you notice that it starts to simmer, remove the pot from the heat source and wait until it cools down a bit again.
  • You should keep stirring during this time and turn on the heat again, if necessary, when the water stops simmering.
  • The same procedure is necessary to melt the chocolate. Again, pay attention; the water in the double boiler should not boil at any time.
  • Use European-style butter with 82% fat content to make the buttercream. A lower fat content of the butter might cause problems when making buttercream.
  • When adding the egg chocolate mixture to the butter, make sure that they are both at room temperature.
  • Add the chocolate to the butter one tablespoon at a time and mix thoroughly in between.

Dobos Torte – Hungarian Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Caramel

Ingredients: four eggs, icing sugar, cocoa powder, unsalted butter, chocolate, vanilla sugar, salt.

icing sugar, cocoa, eggs, vanilla sugar, salt, chocolate, butter arranged on the table.

Making buttercream step by step:

  1. Remove the butter from the fridge and let it come to room temperature (very important).
  2. Beat the 4 eggs, icing sugar, vanilla sugar, and the salt in a double boiler (bain-marie) until it thickens slightly. It took me about 13 minutes to achieve that stadium, but stand by and beat the mixture continuously until it thickens slightly. (1)
  3. Do not let the water come to a boil at any time; that will make the eggs curdle.
  4. Take the mixture off the heat and continue beating it until it cools slightly. (2)
  5. Set aside and leave it to cool a bit more. Stir from time to time.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (bain-marie) as well. (3)
  7. Let it cool slightly and add it to the egg mixture. Incorporate well. (4)
  8. Leave the mixture to come to room temperature.

collage of four pictures of mixing eggs and sugar in bain marie, melting chocolate and mixing the two together.

  1. When the chocolate mixture has reached room temperature, place the butter (also at room temperature) into a bowl and beat it until creamy.
  2. Add the unsweetened cocoa powder and incorporate. (1)
  3. Add the chocolate mixture to the butter one tablespoon at a time and mix thoroughly in between so that it doesn’t curdle. (2)
  4. That both chocolate mixture and butter are at room temperature is very important as well. If their temperature is different, the buttercream will curdle.

collage of two pictures of making chocolate buttercream in a bowl.

How to fix curdled buttercream?

If the buttercream curdles, you can still fix it. You could either beat it at high speed until it is smooth again or place it in the double boiler and heat it gently while beating it with the mixer until it is smooth again. Do not let it get too warm, though; you do not want it to melt. However, my buttercream did not curdle at all, everything went excellent, so I guess it should be OK for you as well.

Dobos Torte – Hungarian Cake

How to make the caramel wedges?

Tips before starting:

  • To make the caramel, you would normally only use sugar. However, the recipe that I followed uses 1 teaspoon vinegar and 20 g/ 1 ½ tablespoons butter.
  • Apparently, these additions will help the caramel remain elastic for a moment longer, which will give you just a bit more time to cut the wedges. However, this time frame is very short, so use a very sharp, good knife and work quickly.
  • Before making the caramel, prepare the things needed to spread the caramel on the cake and cut the caramel layer. The caramel hardens quickly, so you want to be very quick.
  • Choose the nicest-looking cake layer for the caramel and lightly butter the spatula you will use to spread the caramel and the knife you will use to cut the caramel cake layer. The knife should be a long, sturdy, and sharp one.

black pan containing sugar, butter and vinegar for making caramel.

Making caramel step by step:

  1. Place sugar, vinegar, and butter in a pan.
  2. Let start caramelize, and then start stirring gently. Be careful not to burn the sugar, it will taste bitter, and you will have to start again. The right color should be a nice reddish-brown, like amber.
  3. Take the caramel off the heat and quickly spread it on the chosen cake layer using the long buttered spatula.
  4. Immediately start cutting the caramel cake layer into 12, 14, or 16 slices. The choice is yours; it depends on how large the cake portions should be. Work quickly.

freshly cut caramel weges for dobos cake setting on a baking tray.

Assemble the Dobos Torte:

  • Keep some buttercream for covering the sides of the cake and for decorating it with rosettes.
  • Divide the rest into 5 equal portions and spread each portion evenly on each of the remaining 5 cake layers. (1)
  • Place the first cake layer on a cake platter and arrange the following cake layers on top of each other to form the Dobos cake.
  • Use some of the remaining buttercream to nicely cover the side of the cake. Sprinkle the sides with toasted almond flakes or hazelnut brittle. (2)
  • Transfer the remaining buttercream to a piping bag and pipe rosettes around the top edge of the cake. Pipe as many rosettes as you have caramel wedges. (3)
  • Arrange the wedges at an angle on top of the piped rosettes, like in the pictures. (4)
  • Chill the cake before serving.

collage of four pictures of assembling cake with buttercream and caramel wedges.

More chocolate cakes:

Dobos Torte – Hungarian Cake
hungarian cake with chocolate buttercream sliced on a small vintage plate.

Dobos Torte – Hungarian Cake

One of the best cakes ever: traditional Hungarian Dobos Torte with layers of pastry and chocolate buttercream and a sinfully delicious caramel topping.
4.63 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cakes
Cuisine: Hungarian
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 439kcal
Author: Adina

Ingredients 

  • Batter:
  • 6 eggs
  • 100 g icing sugar divided
  • 30 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g all-purpose flour
  • Chocolate buttercream:
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200 g bittersweet chocolate at least 45% cocoa content
  • 270 g unsalted butter 82% fat content
  • 35 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Caramel glaze:
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • roasted almond flakes or hazelnut brittle to decorate the sides of the cake optional

Instructions

Batter:

  • Draw 6 circles of 22 cm/ 8.5 inches diameter on 6 sheets of baking paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/ 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Separate the eggs.
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff, add half (50 g/ 1.8 oz/ ½ cup) of the icing sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.
  • Melt the butter (30 g/ 1 oz/ 2 tablespoons) in a small pan and let cool until you beat the egg yolks.
  • Beat the egg yolks and the remaining icing sugar in another bowl.
  • Add the egg whites to the egg yolks and incorporate them carefully.
  • Add the melted and cooled butter to the mixture and incorporate.
  • Fold in the flour.

Cake layers:

  • Weigh the batter into another bowl. Divide the quantity into 6 equal portions. Precise weighing is better than estimating in this case.
  • Spread batter: Place one piece of baking paper with the circle on it on a baking tray. Spread one portion of the batter on the circle you drew on baking paper. Use a long batter spatula to do that and make sure that the batter layer is even.
  • Bake for 10-11 minutes or until golden.
  • Repeat with the remaining 5 batter portions. Let cool all of them completely.

Buttercream:

  • Soften butter: Take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
  • Bain-marie: Beat the 4 eggs, the icing sugar, the vanilla sugar, and the salt in a double boiler (bain-marie) until it thickens slightly. It took me about 13 minutes to achieve that stadium, but stand by and beat the mixture continuously until it thickens slightly. Do not let the water come to a boil at any time; that will make the eggs curdle.
  • Cool: Take the mixture off the heat and continue beating it until it cools slightly. Set aside and leave it to cool a bit more. Stir from time to time.
  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (bain-marie) as well. Let it cool slightly and add it to the egg mixture. Incorporate well. Leave the mixture to come to room temperature.
  • Beat butter: Place the butter (at room temperature) in a bowl and beat it until creamy. Add the unsweetened cocoa powder and incorporate.
  • Add the chocolate mixture to the butter one tablespoon at a time and mix thoroughly in between so that it doesn't curdle.
    That both the chocolate mixture and the butter are at room temperature is very important as well. If their temperature is different, the buttercream will curdle. (See tips above if buttercream curdles).

Caramel glaze:

  • Preparations: Before making the caramel, prepare the things needed to spread the caramel on the cake and cut the caramel layer. The caramel hardens quickly; you have to be very quick.
    Choose the nicest-looking cake layer for the caramel and lightly butter the spatula you will use to spread the caramel and the knife you will use to cut the caramel cake layer. The knife should be a long, sturdy, and sharp one.
  • Make the caramel: Place sugar, vinegar, and butter in a pan. Let start caramelize, and then start stirring gently. Be careful not to burn the sugar, it will taste bitter, and you will have to start again. The right color should be a nice reddish-brown, like amber.
  • Spread: Take the caramel off the heat and quickly spread it on the chosen cake layer using the long buttered spatula.
  • Cut: Immediately start cutting the caramel cake layer into 12, 14, or 16 slices, depending on how large the cake portions should be. Work quickly. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the Dobos cake.

Assemble the Dobos Torte:

  • Keep some buttercream for covering the side of the cake and for decorating it with rosettes.
  • Divide the rest into 5 equal portions and spread each portion evenly on each of the remaining 5 cake layers.
  • Assemble the cake: Place the first cake layer on a cake platter and arrange the following cake layers on top of each other to form the torte.
  • Cover the sides: Use a little of the remaining buttercream to cover the side of the cake nicely.
  • Sprinkle the sides with toasted almond flakes or hazelnut brittle.
  • Pipe: Place the remaining buttercream into a piping bag and pipe rosettes of buttercream around the top edge of the cake. Pipe as many rosettes as you have caramel wedges.
  • Top: Arrange the caramel wedges at an angle on top of the piped rosettes, like in the pictures above.
  • Chill the cake before serving.

Notes

I would not attempt to bake this cake without a digital kitchen scale; the recipe is fairly difficult, and using cups won't help (Amazon affiliate link).

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 439kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 185mg | Sodium: 65mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g
Keyword: dobos, dobos cake, dobos torte, hungarian cakes, hungarian dobos torte, hungarian recipes
Recipe Rating




Vivien

Saturday 10th of July 2021

The batter did not nearly fill the 8.5-inch circles of parchment paper--that was a waste. The buttercream isn't; it is a syrup and the cake layers slide off. Forget about piping rosettes. The caramel layer did not turn that attractive amber color although I cooked it for several minutes, and I could taste the vinegar, necessitating the addition of more sugar.

I'll be trying another recipe for Dobos torta.

Adina

Saturday 10th of July 2021

Sorry it didn't work for you, it's not an easy cake to make. It always works for me.

Andrea

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

I have never made this or any Dobos recipe. You explained so well how to bake 7 layers. I studied many recipes and watched different tutorials. My mom and grandma used to make it. I try to keep up the family Hungarian traditions. Will let you know how my attempt goes!

Adina

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Thank you, Andrea. This is such a good cake, I hope you will like it.

Jill

Friday 1st of February 2019

Im going to try this cake. Do I use unsalted or salted butter? I'm assuming that icing sugar is the same as the US confectioners or powdered sugar. Right? Also, is there a substitute for vanilla sugar?

Adina

Friday 1st of February 2019

Hi Jill. Always use unsalted butter for cakes. Icing, confectioners, powdered sugar is the same thing. Add a little vanilla extract instead of vanilla sugar.

Kath

Saturday 9th of June 2018

I’m Hungarian living in Australia since I was 4 & have been very keen on baking traditional Hungarian foods & cakes for my family for many years Have made this cake several times but this recipe has the best caramel topping I gave ever done Thanks wonderful!! ???

Adina

Saturday 9th of June 2018

Thank you for your feedback, Kath. I am very happy to hear you liked it.

Anca

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

It looks amazing. I didn't have this cake often in Romania, but now I would love it.

Adina

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

I have never had it in Romania, I saw it often but it was not something I would eat back then. Now I love it and I am not sure that is such a good thing, I was thinner back then... :) :)