The Dobos Torte has been in the Lowy family for longer than anyone can remember. We know that Nana always made it (my great-Nana, Blanche), and that it’s a Hungarian dessert, and that it takes a really damn long time to make. We know that it’s chocolatey and rich and amazing, and that you always cut the slices perpendicularly from the middle (not into triangles, never triangles). I know that a slice of this cake is my one exception to veganism every year.
In about 2001, my aunt Patty picked up the reigns and brought the Dobos back to our Thanksgiving table after some number of cake-less years. She took Nana’s recipe and purchased four cake pans and a lot of eggs. Since then, it’s become more of a fixture in our family than pecan pie, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole combined. For serious. We don’t do any of those.
The Dobos is a monster of a cake. Every year it’s a game for the cake baker to see how many layers they can accomplish with the allotted batter and for cake eaters to count the layers and then bicker about whether it’s 14 or 15. At some point nobody cares anymore and we all become consumed in forking off perfect bites of chocolatey striped goodness. I’m warning you, if you introduce this to your family or friends they’ll demand it again and again. That’s what we’re doing, anyway.
*NOTE* This is the second non-vegan recipe I’ve ever posted. The first was my Russian Babushka’s paskha. All in the name of eastern Europe, right?
Cake recipe adapted from Food.com, frosting’s all Nana
For the cake:
- 10 eggs, separate out yolks
- 5 egg yolks, additional
- 5 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/8 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- 1.5 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
- 3/4 lb sweet butter
- 3/4 lb high quality semi-sweet or bitter sweet chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups very strong coffee
- Prepare your cake pans (this can also be done on aluminum foil or baking pan liner paper if you don’t want to purchase multiple cake pans). Spread softened butter lightly over the center of each pan. Sprinkle with flour then shake them around to thoroughly cover the surface. Shake off any excess.
- Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450*.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer at high speed, beat the 15 egg yolks for a few minutes until they are pale and lemon-colored. Slow the speed down and gradually add all of the sugar to the bowl.
- Increase the speed and beat the mixture for 5 minutes, or until it’s very thick.
- Bring the speed down again and gradually add all of the flour.
- Increase the speed again and beat for 5 minutes. The mixture will be thick and almost stiff.
- Add the lemon juice and mix to incorporate. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
- Beat the 10 previously separated egg whites with salt until they hold a point- stiff, but not dry.
- Fold large spoonfuls of the whites into the yolk mixture until they’re combined completely.
- With a large serving spoon, place two or three large spoonfuls of the batter into the first pan. With the back of the spoon, spread the batter to the edges, being sure not to leave any holes (1/4″ thick or so)
- Pop the pan into the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the top is golden brown with dark brown spots. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Because we were rotating pans we gave them a couple minutes to cool then popped them out onto a cooling rack. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.
- Repeat with layers 2-14.
For the frosting:
- Put coffee into a heavy-bottomed pot, or the top of a double boiler on a medium-low flame. Break chocolate into the coffee and begin to stir as it melts. Add the sugar and continue stirring as it comes to a low boil. Cook the mixture until it pulls like candy (it thickens to the point where when you let a small drop fall into a cup of cold water, it holds tightly together as a ball and doesn’t break up).
- Remove the pot from heat and let it cool, still stirring. When the chocolate is cool enough that it won’t melt the butter, add the butter. Once mixed, start frosting layer by layer. Coat the sides and top of the cake with all remaining frosting.