Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dobos Torte

This Saturday we have throwing a sixtieth birthday party for a dear friend who we have know for 25 years.   Although it seems insane that I would be sent into a tizzy about a dinner party, as we have one or more a week, every now and again I feel like I need to up my game and make something really special.
In this instance special was an over the top traditional "fancy cake" a Dobos Torte, 7 layers of hazelnut butter cream topped with caramel.  The recipe I used was Lindsay Remolif Shere (one of the founders of Chez Panisse and the original pastry chef there).  It seemed straight forward enough, an fairly easy cake, or 7 cakes, some butter cream all topped off with caramel.  The only thing that really worried me was that the cake had to be divided into 16 equal pieces so I went to NY Cake store in Chelsea and bought a kit that had a template you place your cake on and it tells you where to divide it.

First thing that went wrong was I over heated the eggs white so they wouldn't fluff up.   Then I over cooked them because I thought they should be browned which indeed they didn't (and the recipe didn't call for it).  Then there was the butter cream, which had to have sugar syrup at the thread stage mixed into eggs yolks - there was an ice bath involved and a thermometer and butter - then the amount of chocolate used wasn't enough or was it that I used 63 percent coca and it should have been more like 76% she did say bitter.  Anyway I added 2 extra tablespoons of coca and all was well.

The cake rounds were formed on parchment paper that I had drawn 8' circles on so they were more or less the same, but they were not exactly the same, and I only got 6 not 7 like the recipe called for.

Then there was the caramel which was too hard. In the end it wasn't too horrible.  I could have used more icing and if I had made the rounds thinning I would have gotten 7.  The second time around I had no problem with the egg whites, but I also didn't heat them.  If they are really ate room temperature you will get the volume you need.

This cake if you should dare to try it is way better the next day or even two after.

Here is the thing though, I was lucky to have the time to try this first before I made it for the actual event.  What came to me after a day of cake experimenting was that this kind of cake is something that maybe if I took a course and made them a lot more that I might be good at, but at the end of the day it's not something that really reflects me or how I cook.  I want to make honest food that taste good.  This kind of cakes seems like fancy for the sake of fancy.  It tastes good, but it doesn't taste any better than chocolate pudding upside down cake which looks a mess and is almost impossible to fuck up.  No water bath or thermometers required.

So next time you have to make a dinner where you want to impress people and make them happy I have some advice, which hopefully from here on in I will listen to as well, make what you know and that you know works.  Special occasions are anxiety provoking enough no need to make a 7 layer cake.

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