- Date: Friday, February 6, 2009 -- 8pm
- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Kitchen: My Apartment
- Dining Companions: Matty, Karen H, Dave, Terry, and Teri
- Recipe Rating: B-
Karen once mentioned to me that when she and Dave lived in New Orleans, they very much enjoyed eating Doberge Cake. Doberge cakes are similar in concept (and maybe arose as a variant of) the Hungarian Dobostorte, of which this recipe is an example. So when Karen and Dave (and my parents) came to visit last month I made this cake for dessert. This cake is not for the casual baker -- it's not that anything about the process is hard, but the process is very lengthy. This cake has nine (yes, nine!) layers. I started by making those layers. I beat egg yolks with sugar, and then beat in orange zest and vanilla. I folded in sifted flour and salt. In a separate bowl, I beat egg whites with cream of tartar and sugar until stiff, then folded them into the yolk mixture. To bake the layers, I inverted cake pans, and buttered and floured the bottoms of the pans. Then I spread some batter on the bottoms of the inverted pans and baked them until golden. I removed the layers from the pans, cooled the pans, and then repeated. Luckily, I have a lot of 8-inch cake pans, so doing 9 layers wasn't as painful as it would have been if I had to do them in 5 (or 9!) batches. After the cake layers had cooled, I prepared an orange glaze by melting diluted orange marmalade, straining it, and adding Grand Marnier. I also prepared the Chocolate Buttercream (see post below). To assemble the cake I put down a cake layer, brushed it with orange glaze, then refrigerated it for three minutes. Then I spread it with buttercream, and topped with another cake layer. I repeated this process (refrigerating for 3 minutes each time!) until 8 of the 9 layers were assembled. Then I covered the sides of the cake with buttercream. Here's where things started to get a little crazy. I then boiled sugar, water, and cream of tartar until it became a deep golden color. I removed it from the heat and poured this caramel over that ninth layer, which I had sitting on a cooling rack. I covered the layer thinly with caramel, then quickly used a buttered knife to score it, so that it would be possible to cut the cake without shattering the caramel once the caramel had hardened. To finish the torte I stuck the caramel-coated layer on top, then used the remaining buttercream to fill in the gap between the 8th and 9th layers. Finally, I masked the sides with hazelnuts which I had toasted, skinned, and chopped. Whew!
So was it worth all the work? Nope. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't nearly as good as many, many desserts which take much less time and effort. The layers were so thin that there was hardly any nice crumb to them. They were almost rubbery in texture. The orange glaze did have a good flavor, and contributed some necessary moistness. The buttercream was only ok (see post below), and the caramel top tasted fine, but seemed unnecessary. I am a huge cake lover, and I didn't finish my piece and never went back to eat any of the leftover cake in the fridge. It just wasn't inspiring. It certainly wasn't inedible, but if I am going to put that much work into a cake, I want the results to be spectacular, not just so-so. There is no way I will be making this one again.
Here is the recipe.