Last week, when it was ninety million degrees in New York City and all the sane people were cracking open fire hydrants, grilling on their roof decks and/or sticking their faces in their wheezing air conditioner units, I looked around my shoebox kitchen, with its half-counter and miniature oven, considered the sheer volume of items left on my to-do that I’d never get done and said, “Clearly, this is the day for me to make an 11-layer dobos torte.” Because my birthday was two days away and that seemed as good as any to sever what frayed tethers I had left to my sanity. [Plus, I already had cleaning help!]
Growing up, my family and I considered the 7-layer cake to be the ne plus ultra of bakery cakes. They were rectangular, filled with a pale, faintly mocha flavored buttercream and coated, top and sides, with a firmer dark chocolate frosting. I’ll be the first to admit that their flavor wasn’t always spectacular, but did you hear the part about the seven layers? The awesomeness of this trumped all chocolate intensity quibbles. What I hadn’t realized, however, is that the historical home of this cake was not (shockingly) a circa-1980s Central New Jersey strip mall bakery, but a Budapest, Hungary specialty food shop where one József C. Dobos invented it his namesake torte in 1887, which became so famous that the city threw a full scale city-wide fete to celebrate its 75th anniversary. That there is some cake.
But if you’ve followed along this far, here’s the part where I fully expect you to roll your eyes and click away from this site, once and for all, because I’m about to tell you that despite the fact that I presumed that this cake would be so complicated, that I’d only give myself permission to make it as a birthday challenge and despite the fact that I made it under the worst possible conditions — oppressive heat, pressed for time, bereft of space — this was one of the easiest celebration cakes I’ve ever made. Whaa? Here’s the deal: There’s only one cake batter. No syrups, no splitting of layers or leveling tops. The layers bake in 5 minutes apiece (that’s 10 minutes of baking, total, if you do it my way). The layers are cool by the time you have the next one out of the oven; there’s no multi-hour wait before you can frost and assemble your cake. The frosting comes together in little time and tastes exactly like the chocolate-butter bomb you’d hoped it would be. Even that melted sugar madness on top is but 5 minutes of extra work (though adds little besides decor, in my opinion). This cake is infinitely doable. I am here, cheering you on. Okay, I’m here having another piece of cake (birthday cake calories don’t count!), but in my head, I know if I could pull this madness in my own mad house without sweating, anyone can.
My birthday cakes, previously: Gateau de Crepes , Pistachio Petit-Four Cake  and Neapolitan Cake . Can you figure out the theme? [P.S. No cake last year. That’s what happens when you have a 9-month old!]
One year ago: Crushed Peas with Smoky Sesame Dressing
Two years ago: Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows, Spanikopita, Wild Mushroom and Blue Cheese Triangles
Three years ago: Dead Simple Slaw
Four years ago: Fideos with Favas and Red Peppers
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Great Book of Desserts; caramel layer and a host of tips from Joe Pastry
Time, estimated: I made this cake lazily, with several long interruptions, over a span of 5 hours. With more focus, I believe it can be done in 3 hours. With good planning and the rev of a strong cup of coffee, I suspect it could be pulled off in 2 hours, but hardly think that would be much fun.
Notes: This dobos torte, as far as I’m concerned, is rare among really showy cakes in that it tastes even awesomer than it looks, and that days later, its as good if not better than it was the first day it was made. Personally, I always pause before making sponge cakes, and they can be a little dry and a bit dull. But this one, with an insanely buttery dark chocolate frosting sandwiching it’s pancake-like layers, manages to be neither, and has a softness you wouldn’t expect from something that slices so neatly. In the fridge, that shell-like chocolate exterior locks in the moisture for days.
I detoured from tradition in a few ways. First, I made more layers than the requisite 7. You’re welcome to make your cake layers as thin as you can bake them up, as most pastry chefs enjoy challenging themselves to. You can double or quadruple the cake recipe and make a staggering stack of a cake, too. 35 for a 35th birthday, anyone?
I also made the cake rectangular as this was how I remembered it most fondly, and allowed me to minimize my baking and fussing. Although round cakes are more traditional, I felt extra validated by my choice when I consulted George Lang’s The Cuisine of Hungary and found that he, too, advised a squared-off cake and the least fussy baking approach. If you have an oven that fits a 12×17-inch pan (mine, alas, does not) you can bake this entire cake in 5 minutes, and divide the layer in a 6-high cake.
Here are some shaping/stacking options. For each, you can make additional layers if you feel comfortable baking your cake layers thinner:
- A 7-layer 9-inch round cake (the most traditional)
- A 14-layer 6-inch round (would serve fewer people but have tall, showy slices)
- A 12-layer 4×8-inch cake (my method, baked in 4 quarter-sheet pans, each divided into thirds)
- A 6-layer 4×8.5-inch cake (the more traditional rectangle, baked in a single 12×17-inch sheet pan)
7 large eggs, separated
3 large egg yolks
1 pound (3 1/2 cups or 455 grams) confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting racks
3/4 cup (94 grams or 3 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Frosting and filling:
1/2 pound (8 ounces or 227 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound (2 sticks or 226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Caramel layer (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
Handful of toasted, peeled hazelnuts
Prepare your cake pans: Choose a cake size and shape option from the Notes, above. Assemble either the cake pans you will need, or sheets of parchment paper if you don’t have all the necessary pans. If using cake pans, line the bottom of each with a sheet of fitted parchment paper, and butter and flour (or use a butter-flour spray) the parchment and sides of the pan. Tap out excess flour, if needed. If using sheets of parchment paper, cut each larger than needed for the cake shape and size. Stencil your cake shape on one side of the sheet, then flip it over and butter and flour the shape area on the reverse side. Again, tap out any excess flour. [Want to make the number 1 for your kid’s first birthday? This is how to approach it.]
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 450°F and place a rack in the center of your oven. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 10 egg yolks for a few minutes at high speed, until pale and lemon-colored. Reduce speed and gradually add sugar, then increase the speed and beat the yolks and sugar until thick and glossy. Scrape bowl occasionally with rubber spatula. Reduce speed again and gradually add flour and salt; increase speed mix for 5 minutes more, then mix in lemon juice. Scrape bowl again with a rubber spatula. In a separate bowl with cleaned beaters, or by transferring your cake batter to a new bowl and washing it out and drying it with a long sigh, beat the 7 egg whites with a whisk attachment until they hold stiff peaks. Because your yolk mixture is more or less the thickness of spackle at this point, stir a few heaping spoonfuls of the whites into it to loosen the mixture, before folding in the rest of the whites in three additions. When you’re done, your batter will have transformed from a dry paste to a spreadable, foamy batter.
Bake your cake layers: Spread your batter in prepared pans or within their stenciled shapes on parchment paper; try to push the batter rather than pull it with an offset spatula, it will help keep the parchment from rolling up. Don’t worry if they spread past the shape outline on parchment; you will trim them later. If you have a digital scale and want to be super-fussy about making sure the layers are even, weighing the batter and dividing it out accordingly will do the trick. [I can make it even easier; the net weight of my batter was 985 grams.] If not and you’re aiming for a traditional 7-layer 9-inch round cake, spread batter to about 1/4-inch thickness in each circle. Spread the batter evenly to the edges with an offset spatula; be careful not to leave any holes. If you’re using parchment shapes, slide cookie sheets under them before baking.
Bake each layer for 5 minutes, or until golden with some dark brown spots. Thicker layers may take up to 2 additional minutes. When layer is baked, remove it from the oven and flip it out onto a cooling rack that has been dusted with a small amount of confectioners’ sugar. Carefully, gently remove parchment paper then flip cake back onto another lightly dusted cooling rack to finish cooling. It’s best to cool the layers right side up; the tops are the stickiest part.
Repeat with remaining layers. Dunk your cake batter bowl in water right away; that egg yolk-enriched batter dries quickly and was surprisingly hard to scrub off later! Layers will cool very quickly. Trim edges of cake, if needed, to make even shapes or divide larger rectangular pans accordingly.
Make the filling and frosting: Melt chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature, but of course not so cool that it hardens again. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until soft and smooth, scraping frequently. Add vanilla and 3 egg yolks. Add sugar and cooled chocolate, beating until thoroughly mixed and scraping as needed.
Assemble the cake: Place four strips of parchment or waxed paper around the outer edges of your cake plate. Place first cake layer on plate and spread chocolate on top and to edges with an offset spatula. The filling must be spread fairly thinly to have enough for all layers and the outsides of the cake. However, I’d preemptively scaled up the chocolate filling and frosting and had nearly two cups of extra — the levels listed above should be just fine. Repeat with remaining layers (or all layers except one, if you’d like to do a decorative caramel layer), stacking cake as evenly as possible. Once fully stacked and filled, you can trim the edges again so that they’re even.
Spread chocolate on outside of cake in a thin coat, just to cover and adhere the crumbs to the cake. Place cake in fridge for 30 minutes (or freezer for 5 minutes) to set the chocolate. Spread chocolate more thickly and smoothly to make a final exterior coat of frosting. Remove paper strips.
Caramel topping, if using: Lightly grease a sheet of parchment paper. Place last cake layer on this sheet. Lightly oil a large chef’s knife (if cutting layer into 16 traditional wedges) or sharp cookie cutter of your choice and set aside. Combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan and swirl it until the sugar melts and begins to turn a pale amber color. Quickly and carefully, pour this (you’ll have a bit of extra) over the prepared cake layer and spread it evenly with an offset spatula, right over the outer edges. Using prepared knife or cutter, quickly cut layer as you wish. Leave in place, then cool completely. Once fully cooled, cut edges of shapes again, to ensure that you can remove them cleanly. Arrange caramel pieces or wedges over cake, propping them up decoratively with hazelnuts.
Chill cake until needed.
Do ahead: You can bake the cake layers ahead of time, freezing them between sheets of waxed paper, wrapped tightly in plastic. No need to defrost before assembling. The whole cake has kept for 4 days for us now, and seems like it would safely keep for a week.
526 comments on dobos torte
Seven layers might have to be one of my more ambitious baking projects later this summer. For a more grown-up treat, you can also substitute a couple tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Creme for the vanilla in the icing.
We’re officially impressed. Last week’s heat rendered us completely and utterly useless, and here you are making a multi-layered dream of a cake. Impressed. And jealous we don’t have that kind of energy.
Happy belated birthday! You know how to treat yourself right woman! Nice work – this is a stunning cake, I would never imagine it can be that simple. I am totally curious now and can’t wait to give it a whirl. Thank you!
Those layers…I’m so impressed! I can barely pull off a double layer cake sometimes :)
and this line sold me: “insanely buttery dark chocolate frosting”, yum. i often worry about cakes being dry, but if a good frosting can pull things together, that makes a big difference. yum.
I’ve been wanting to make a dobos torte for ages but keep putting it off in case it’s too complicated but maybe I will overcome this fear and get baking! It looks stunning!
I’m so impressed that you baked in that heat! I was one of those with my face in front of the air conditioner and my body in front of the fan :) Definitely want to make this soon! It looks absolutely delicious
you are unbelievable, deb. wow.. just.. wow.
Happy Belated Bday! My bday was yesterday and there was no cake like this in my world. And although you say it’s simple, easy, and a snap to make…I’ll take your word for it. It looks like a work of art!! Seriously, Deb! It’s just beautiful!
I love the gold stars, too. And all those layers. And all that choc frosting in between them….my oh my. Delish! :)
This looks amazing, and is going to the top of my list of baking experiments.
Does this method of baking the layers work with any cake batter, or would you recommend only doing it that way with this recipe in particular?
I also remember those bakery 7-layer cakes. One of the things that’s always put me off traditional Dobostorte recipes is that they usually want you to do round layers, which poses 2 problems: 1) No home baker has 7 round pans in the same size, and even if they did, you’d need 2 ovens to bake them, which I do not have. So you have to spend time making the layers in batches and prepping the pans. 2) The more layers you have, the more the chance you’d need to trim them so you get an even cylinder.
A rectangle solves both problems easily, which is undoubtedly why bakeries started doing it. I’ve just always been afraid of tweaking the recipe myself. Now I have no excuse not to do it this way.
Alexis — It’s not necessary that you have matching layer cake pans. The recipes I saw (and the one I used) suggested stenciling on parchment paper…
Happy belated birthday. Gemini too!!
In Portugal we have one that is done with biscuit and coffee and when you sliced looked like yours!! It’s delicious too
Yours looks amazing, and must taste even better ;-)
Great blog thank you!
Is it the same as Doberge cake (a New Orleans tradition)?
That is a stunning cake! I so wish I had a piece this afternoon. Happy birthday, Deb. And baking is my favorite form of procrastination :-)
What a gorgeous, gorgeous looking cake!!! It is absolutely beautiful and kudos to you for making it despite the heat and a small kitchen :) Happy belated birthday!
Looks amazing…. I almost made a gluten-free version when I was cooking my way through Hungary but it seemed too complicated and time consuming. Those Hungarians really make some amazing desserts though!
Thanks for such detailed instructions and notes- they’re far more helpful and detailed than what I saw in various Hungarian cookbooks. Maybe now I’ll give it a shot! And Happy Birthday Deb!
You’ve convinced me. I must eat this cake for my birthday [a month away, which is ample time to get over my cake-baking fears].
On an unrelated [maybe] note, your son is adorable. What a great little cleaner.
What a beautiful cake! I love that you make an eleven layer torte completely unpretentious and approachable. And what a fabulous cake for a birthday, seeing as how the calories don’t count!
I really love complicated-looking but surprisingly simple desserts. This looks so good! And the frosting sounds perfect.
Beautiful! Random question: What’s the difference between this and smith island cake? I was going to say layers, but it looks like yours has many more than seven.
In the directions for the frosting/filling you write “add vanilla and egg yolks”, but I don’t see egg yolks in the ingredient list…
On the Multiple Pan Problem:
I made a dobos torte for my birthday last year using seven square “pans” I made out of super-strength aluminum foil, using a piece of cardboard as a template. Worked beautifully.
this looks fantastic, and i hardly like cake. i can’t wait to find a reason to make this.
Gorgeous cake, congratulations! I try to stay away from sweets lately, but I’m definitely going to make this cake, thank you for the recipe and beautiful photos!
I’m still determined to tackle the Classic Chocolate Layer Cake of My Dreams for my upcoming birthday, but this cake has me wracking my brain for the next cake-baking excuse I can come up with!
Usually I just save your really, super awesome recipes in my “I’ll make later” folder, but I saw this title and said to myself, “No!” My grandpa used to make Dobos Torte ALL THE TIME, and although I was never particularly fond of the flavour, I really want to make one now. Thank you for posting this and bringing back great memories of my grandpa. Thank you. (And around the anniversary of his death) Really, thank you. I appreciate this so much more than you can imagine.
I’m just not sure if this could be any more beautiful! I want to dive into my iPhone screen!
Your lovely reminds me of a crepe cake I made in grade 11. It was my friend’s birthday and we were having brunch at another friend’s house. I made 30 or so crepes from Joy and stuck them together with raspberry jam and whipped cream, then carefully transported the whole thing in my parent’s car. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was when we cut into it and was doubly stoked by my friends’ reactions. Things haven’t been the same since….
I’ve only recently taken a foray into baking and I kinda love it. This cake looks ah-mazing. I’m sitting here imagining it with some homemade nutella mixed in with the frosting layers. When is my diet over again? Oh yeah, 12 days. And counting…
this is so beautiful! and surprisingly simple, too. don’t get me wrong, i love a good old-fashioned layer cake as much as the next person, but they just take so damn long to make.
also, a huge happy belated birthday to you!
Gorgeous cake and I’d love to try it myself. I did notice a slightly confusing point though, that I figured I should ask about before trying. Under making the filling and frosting, you mention adding the “vanilla and egg yolks.” However, under the ingredients for the frosting, I didn’t see egg yolks listed. Want to make sure I don’t mess things up when I attempt this delicious looking cake!
Beautiful. You know, I have an approaching birthday, too…
This is incredible, I love layer cakes and, btw, happy birthday :)
I love dobos torte! There must be some Hungarian in you…
I hope the typo is in the instructions and not the ingredients. Egg yolks in the frosting *probably* won’t work for me :)
I think my 3 year old might need this for her birthday.
I’ve been looking for a recipe for my sister’s birthday, but I don’t know if I could pull this off….very impressed with your work on such a hot day. (I always hate my oven on days like that.) Happy belated bday, Deb! Keep inspiring! :)
I also have a “shoebox kitchen.” I’m always so inspired by the lovely things you are able to create. Thenk you for giving me hope!
Ooh. This might be perfect for a certain, um, “friend” who is turning 30 in a month :)
i’m sooo hungry now!
This is BRILLIANT! I’m definitely making this for my best friend’s 16th birthday (16 layers sounds manageable-ish…)
I have the same question about the frosting as Merius.Are there egg yolks in the frosting?
Thank you for the inspiration. I can’t wait to make this cake!
many happy returns deb!
this looks great but i have one question – i’m confused about the eggs.you say to have seven eggs, separated, and then three yolks. so, 10 yolks for the cake but then how many whites? i assume seven, but then there is egg in the filling as well which is not listed. can you clarify? thanks!!
This brings back great memories of my grandam and I making her favorite seven layer cake. Looks divine!
What a cake! So beautiful :) I have always wanted to make a cake with many many layers but have always been scared! Maybe one day I will give it a try, thanks for the inspiration!!!
I have been your faithful reader for a long time now, and I have to say, I’m very happy about this recipe – why? because I’m Hungarian!
Keep up the good work and thanks a lot for the pleasant surprise!
Oh, and more importantly – Happy Birthday! Or in Hungarian: Boldog születésnapot!:)
Just beautiful and reminds me of a cake I coveted from a bakery in nyc that no longer exists called Cakemasters. Photos and story very inspiring. Thank you!
OMG that looks amazing! I can just imagine the texture of biting through the different thin layers… Now I’m drooling – thanks.
Lady, you are intrepid. This does look divine, though. Happy Birthday!
Wow, never heard of this before, but it looks like a doberge cake. I grew up in South Louisiana, and those make a great birthday cake- usually half chocolate and half lemon.
And you say it’s easy, but it still takes 3 hours to make? Hmmm… perhaps our definitions of easy are different :)
Amazing! Don’t you want to call it Deb’s torte?!
Jane — I decided that the Debostorte will be when I reverse it, dark chocolate sponge and vanilla cream frosting and filling. :)
stephanie — D’oh. I forgot to include the yolks in the frosting. It will make more sense when I do…
Adz — Yeah, I’d left the yolks out. Raw eggs in the frosting and filling. I am sure that will scare some off, but with fresh eggs that you trust the source of, it’s wonderful.
I usually like to sit back and relax on my birthday, but you seek a challenge. I may look at my birthday next month in a whole new way. The cake looks fab, by the way.
Oh my! That first photo looks like a slice of heaven! I haven’t had Dobos Torte in years, and I never had a homemade Dobos Torte. I’m inspired.
I’m sorry, I know I should say something a little more useful in the comments, but seriously.
This cake.. looks incredible. Happy birthday indeed!
I am seriously tempted to try this in the suggested “1” shape for my daughter’s first birthday next month. I am also picturing a mini smash cake of small round/square layers. Decisions, decisions…
wow! looks amazing, and happy birthday! i will have to give this a try at some point, although right now i’m waiting for an occasion to make your pistachio petit-four cake, which i’ve have bookmarked forever. sadly, we’re in a birthday dry spell this time of year but as soon as that comes to an end. . .
I have to say that cake looks gorgeous! You’ve almost got me convinced to give it a try if it is as uncomplicated as you say! Happy Birthday!
Ooh yeah I want some of that Debostorte!
I love to make this type of torte and bring it to potlucks. Folks are always impressed, but if they knew how simply and quickly the cake came together, I might be ousted from the supper club:)
In recent versions I’ve brushed half the layers with Grand Marnier before frosting them. This is only because I’m trying to use up my massive GM bottle – it isn’t working!
I love Dobos Torte! Yours is beautiful – I made one a few years ago in a kitchen just the size of yours (and my oven wouldn’t fit the 12×17 pan either)! Happy birthday :)
Omg! Happy Birthday!!! Deb that cake looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it for my husband. In a week.
Rockstar. :) I love that it looks/sounds super impressive but is still manageable. Happy Birthday!!
Love this cake and really, the stars make it special. What a great idea for any cake. Happy belated birthday.
Looks beautiful. I have a tiny oven, too, and it is kind of a pain! Nice to see such a lovely cake produced by another mini oven.
Oh, Dobos Torte! My mom used to make one every year for my dad’s birthday. Unfortunately he’s not with us anymore, but your post definitely had me smiling.
Yeah I’ll be making that soon!! We always ordered one from the sausage & cheese catalog at Christmas time and they looked awesome, tasted like the box they came out of however. I’ve never thought to make a homemade one! its beautiful and I can’t way to try it!!
Happy birthday Deb! I wish you all the best.
Your cake looks beautiful.
ahh, we are almost birthday twins! My birthday is this week and sadly, because of the world’s most nutto work schedule, I will not be able to make a cake this year. I’m pretty sure the world just decided that I needed to be given the awful gift of adulthood for my birthday and that celebrations needed to be tempered with evening meetings – the.entire.week. But this cake looks beautiful and amazing – totally worth a birthday celebration for you! It looks really similar to this other celebration cake (of the Indonesian variety…naturally) http://thepetitfour.com/?p=909 However, as much as I love the spicy gingerbready-ness of the Spekkoek, this might be worth a try! Joyeux anniversaire!
This is just absolutely stunning!
I can’t remember if I have de-lurked here or not (that’s what a 20-month old kid will do to you). I think not. I found your website about 5 months ago on my graham cracker search, and have since made about a dozen things from here, plus bought Good to the Grain AND Plenty. I love, love, love that you have a micro-kitchen and a miniature oven and yet make amazing food (because I also have a wee kitchen).
Just thought it was time to unveil myself as yet another fan. I am making this cake ASAP. I made your chicken empanadas for the first time last week with the idea of freezing half the batch, but, uh, that never quite happened! Thank you!
I look around my little kitchen with my teeny apartment-sized oven and ditto half a counter, with my mixmaster proudly on display, and I think of you! Thanks for inspiring me :) and happy birthday!!!
This is one of my absolute favorite cakes. It is seriously the most delicious thing ever. My birthday is just a few short weeks away, and I may have to have the husband wrangle the kids so I can bake it for myself. Mmmmm.
This cake is a classic hungarian cake and the caramel shouldn’t be optional because it gives the cake it’s name. Dob means drum, dobos means drummer and the top layer, the one that must be covered with the caramel is the ‘dob’ of this cake.
i am hungarian by birth and today is my birthday.
it’s clear and simple: i love you!
Stunning. Add me to the list of people who put this on the “must bake list”. It looks gorgeous. T
I’m truly glad to see that I wasn’t the only crazy new yorker doing crazy baking things during the heat wave of last week (I decided to make brioche. That I then immediately turned into bread pudding.) This is truly a fantastic cake. Worthy of a birthday celebration for sure!
Happy belated, Deb!
First..happy belated birthday. Hope you had a party!
Your instructions for the frosting call for adding vanilla and egg yolks to the chocolate butter mixture. There are no yolks called for in the ingredient list. Ganache doesn’t usually have yolks, so I’m going to assume it was a typo in the instructions.
Oh, boy! I’m tempted. This looks pretty good.
Forget NY heat .. this makes me wanna bake in TExas heat … its so beautiful
Happy belated birthday, Deb. It’s beautiful. And an amazing feat–you’ve really thrown down the gauntlet–my birthday is next month and now I feel obligated to make this. It reminds me of the famous Smith Island cakes (the official cake of the state of Maryland) that have something like 9 thin layers with chocolate frosting between the layers.
I wish you could hear my reactions when I see your new posts for the first time. I type in smittenkitchen.com, impatiently wait for it to load, and then “GAAAAAAASP!!!!” You’d think someone had just shot me or run over my puppy or something. I’m generally not dramatic, but I look forward to your new recipes and am always amazed at what new delicious and beautiful treat you’ve created. And this cute and gravity defying cake is no exception!
What a beautiful cake! I made one similar to this last year and to avoid cutting the cakes for a custom fit I bought 2 packs of disposable cake baking pans at the grocery store in the baking section. I was able to cook them in just 2 rotations since i could fit 4 in the oven at a time and saved the pans for the next time I was ambitious enough to bake one again. Thanks for the inspiration I believe a layer cake is in my future this week!
I have fond memories of my grandmother making Dobos Torte. Her parents immigrated from Hungary. Alas the recipe went with her when she passed away 17 years ago. I remember many round layers that were almost like a thin pancake piled up, maybe around 12 high. The frosting in between was divine. She didn’t do the outer frosting though, but it was delicious just the same. I hope to try this recipe for a future family gathering!
Ooh! My family has been getting seven-layer cakes from a North Jersey bakery for years . . . I never even contemplated making it myself! This could save my grandmother a long wait on line at the bakery this Christmas!
happy birthday deb!
My friend’s birthday is coming up and he asked me to make his cake – I’m totally veganizing this (so I can eat it, too).. and I’m going to cross my fingers that it doesn’t turn out like complete crap. Absolutely beautiful!
Ps – you have such cute cleaning help! Would you mind sending him my way?
i just heard about maida heatter this weekend, and now she’s everywhere i turn. this sounds deceptively doable.
When I lived in Murray Hill there was this little Eastern European deli nearby — I was always so seduced by the promise of their dobos torte and it was always disappointing (and yes, I did try it more than twice. I thought maybe it was a bad day or two). That made me swear off dobos torte however, but now I see the seduction of a homemade version. Tell me it won’t be dry and disappointing?
Happy Birthday, Deb! This cake is STUNNING! I love the gold stars on top! Hope that you had a wonderful day!
Oh dear! I wish I saw this post just 5 hours ago! Today is my birthday (I’m thirty-twelve today) and I just made one of my favorite cakes but I would have tried this instead. I ended up making the cake and frosting on the back of the Hershey’s canister (really love it!) I’ll have to find a random special Wednesday to make this cake!
will you please make me one? this looks so delicious!
THIS, Deb, is a masterpiece. And from your description, I totally get why it feels less futzy than a traditional layer cake. I can’t wait to try it. (And happy birthday to you!)
You’re so right – I find it hard to believe that this cake is easy to make! But, alas, I’m sure I’ll try it :)
Happy birthday! I love fresh flowers.
Ah I’ve been wondering when you’d make dobos – it seemed like the sort of thing you’d attempt. It looks amazing. Happy birthday!
My first reaction was “Oh gosh that looks good.” my seconds was, “Oh, crap” because I’ve been meaning to make a cake like this (aren’t there famous ones from Baltimore?) but haven’t had the guts…Happy birthday and thanks.
I am more impressed that you can bake an 11 layer cake with a small child in your life, than just in the heat! Way to go!!
My Russsian-Jewish grandmother made a cake that is reniniscent of this one in the 50’s that we loved. She used rectangular tea biscuits instead of cake,with layers of chocolate between the buscuits. Have you heard of this?
Of course it tastes better than it looks! It’s half frosting! Now that’s my kind of cake. Happy Birthday!
Hi Deb! This looks so good!! Just wondering, are you using a 9×13 sheet pan? Sorry I’m not sure what a quarter sheet pan is :) Many Thanks! I can’t wait to try this!
One of my FAVORITE European desserts. A very good friend to my family is a great baker and this is one of the cakes she specializes in. Of course all her recipes are in either German or Romanian, so when she tries to translate them it isn’t very clear. Now I have something I can follow now. Love the sugary stars!
Mmmm…delicious. I’m from Maryland and our state dessert is the Smith Island Cake, which is very similar and has a very interesting history as well. I’ve always made my Smith Island cakes round, but your rectangle is so pretty I may have to switch things up a bit.
This looks delicious and impressive! I wouldn’t have guessed you could pour the batter and not worry about cake pan sizes so much. Btw, I caught a few typos in the “preparing your cake pans” section, capitalized here: “If using sheets of parchment paper, cut EAT larger than needed for the cake shape and size. Stencil your cake shape on one side of the sheet, then flip it OVEN” Seems like you have an autocorrect that favors food-related words, hee hee!
I made one similar to this for Valentine’s Day! The Smith Cake. It is quite a feat especially after 3 times in one day! Yours looks beautiful. Happy Birthday!
wow- this looks melt in your mouth delicious. now i need a good excuse to bake a seven layer cake. thanks for posting this, Deb!
Happy Birthday crazy lady! That is one gorgeous dobos torte!
btw – i think it’s tastes like the butter filled bomb… not takes. :)
This both terrifies and thrills me. Just got invited to a dinner party on Sunday night, so I’m going to attempt it over the weekend. Here’s hoping! (Happy birthday :D)
What a beautiful cake! These cooler days are a great excuse to get my oven back on and baking:-)
Did you sneak in an extra layer of caramel? Looks like a couple of the layers in your unfinished cake are separated by caramel. And I’ll point out this should be entirely acceptable since you had more than 7 layers.
Would you not put in a drop of vanilla with the sugar and water?
I love baking when it’s completely irrational — like when I couldn’t stop baking and made rugelach, madeleines, and cheesecake bars in just a few days. But I think, for some of us, baking is an escape.
What a throwback to my childhood! My dad used to bring us home dobos torte in this form factor every so often from a European bakery in my hometown (honestly, I’m not sure how my brother and I weren’t obese as children — it was quite often since we loved it so). Now, again, I need some – thank you for posting this recipe!
Happy Belated Birthday! This looks spectacular. Speaking of layers, on Saturday, I made the ice box cake with homemade chocolate wafers, stacking it high. Thanks to you, my family thinks I should open a bakery.
lazy cakes are my favorite! I’m blessed with central A/C so a long day in the kitchen is a great way to spend the weekend.
This is beautiful:)
Happy Belated Birthday Deb — it is seriously making me drool.
I’ve been reading for more than four years now (I can’t believe it!), and I always look forward to your “self” birthday cakes!
I just feel a need to plug my favorite Maida Haetter cake- Merry-Go-Round cake, which is almost exactly the same as this one, except that it has slightly more substantial sponge and vertical layers (you wrap the frosted strips in a coil to make a wheel, then frost the whole thing so it looks like a normal round cake). It’s actually just before Dobos in her book of great chocolate desserts…..there is really nothing like chocolate frosting with raw egg yolks…..
As if anything could be more impressive than that cake, I have to commend you on your post, just reading the detail that you put into making sure we had all the instructions and options and whatnot was impressive in itself! If you ever decide to branch off into yet another blog, I hope it’s one that will teach us how to do all these amazing things while also entertaining our little ones :-)
I hope you had a wonderful birthday!
Ohhh my goodness. It’s almost midnight and we’re sitting on the couch, craving chocolate and wondering who the first will be to go rummaging through the cabinets in search of something satisfying! I LOVE that this didn’t involve any layer-leveling or any of that nonsense. Tedious, annoying things like that put me off perfectly good recipes, but this looks amaaazing. Proud of you for braving the heat in pursuit of delicious cake. Happy birthday!
I just wanted to compliment you on the cake, it looks so cute! And I’m sure it tastes delicious!
Omg! That’s all that I can use to describe this gorgeous torte! I love the layering and I’m so glad that I’m getting my KitchenAid pretty soon. I’ve been waiting to make so many things from this site and now that I got my graduation gift, I’m ready!
Looks simply stunning.
Question: Do you bake each layer of sponge at a time? So one comes out the oven, the next goes in? Or two at a time?
Are you serious–it’s easy? I don’t want to believe it, but 5 minutes of baking time/layer? Sign me up! Even my little cakes for two cook in more time!
This is SO beyond my capabilities. But this isn’t–Happy Birthday!
Wow! That cake is so impressive! I would so love to say that I would make it, but reading the instructions alone already overwhelmed me! Bet it’s worth the effort if one does attempt it though.
This really looks good. I will try to make one soon. By the way, is that a Kitchen Aid stand mixer?
This is genius! I made a Martha Stewart Dobos Torte a few years ago, and trying to slice those round cakes into neat thirds was a total nightmare. This looks much more sensible, I may have to tackle it again.
So pretty! I may have to try this, maybe with some more summery flavors? I’m thinking berries of some kind, and possibly white chocolate…anybody have any ideas? Also, you know what I instantly thought of when I saw the cake slices for some reason? Rainbow Cookies! How great would a 7-layer Rainbow Cookie Cake be??? I’ve seen three-layer ones in bakeries, but never this impressive and I’ve never seen a homemade one. May have to give it a go this summer…
I have a friend from Singapore who does a very unusual “layer” cake, in that you spread the batter thinly in the pan, bake it quickly, then spread another layer thinly, bake it, spread another layer and so on until you have a cake that from the outside looks like a normal sponge but when you slice into it has these fantastic visible sediments. There’s something to play around with if you feel you aren’t hot enough. ;)
I love this! I grew up in New Orleans, and we called them ‘Dobash cakes”…
probably a local hatch job on the real name…
When I turned 16 I got 2 of them.. one from my family and one from some friends ~ one chocolate like yours, and the other was whilte with alternating fillings of raspberry and lemon curd with that crispy white icing that makes your teeth hurt it’s so sweet.
Blissed out for a week! Haven’t thought about them for years! thanks for the post.
I have never heard of this cake and I intrigued!! Looks so yummy. Late at night and now I want a slice!
What a show-stopper!
It’s not quite the same as a doberge (dobash) cake, which has a poured fondant icing over buttercream, but it is more or less the same.
As good as this looks I think I will be passing on the recipe to my other half. I am not an enthusiastic cake maker, or any dessert really, concentrating my skills on the savoury side of the road. But as always this was a great read and it does look delicious, so I might just twist someone’s arm to make it for me!
Happy birthday! On the other hand, I love your detailed instructions. Cake looks amazing!
‘Tis a work of art! Happy Birthday. I see you are slowly catching up with me (I wish). hehe
Joepastry.com does a really nice series on the Dobos Torte.
THIS is my next must-do celebration cake…..It is simply stunning…One question…how do you make the “star” garnish for your cake…Is it done with puff pastry?? Thank you so much in advance….You are my Gateau Guru…..
Happy Birthday! 4 stars for you!
It is always fun to see what you serve for us. You cook like I love it and often those things that remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen. When I was busy with my little boys you were the onset to do something creative and now I like to cook and friends like to come around and enjoy my cooking.
Thanks for the inspiration and the contagiously cooking,
Annie, from over the sea in the Netherlands
Hi Deb, Happy birthday!! This cake reminds me of a cake my mom used to make for us (in Germany) called “Kalter Hund” or “Kalte Schnauze” which literally transalted means “Cold Dog” or “Cold Snout”…believe me the name doesn’t do it justice! The big difference is that the layers are made with something similar to graham crackers, the german version are called Butterkekse from Bahlsen and I believe you can get them in NY. Here’s a link to a recipe, if you want I can try to translate it for you: http://www.brigitte.de/rezepte/rezepte/kalter-hund
All the best!
I made a Martha Stewart dobos torte several years ago (different than Katie’s, since it was rectangular from the get go–never knew it was supposed to be any other way!). It ended up looking gorgeous, but it was a disappointing eating experience. The bottom surface of the cake layers had a crust, tasty but disconcerting in the texture department. I figured this was because of the layers’ thinness, so it baked up more cookie-like, browning on the bottom. It didn’t seem to have overbaked in terms of taste or moisture. Maybe I didn’t give it any extra sitting time, and so missed the chance for that bottom surface to soften. Anyone have a word of advice before I embark once more down the fairy tale path that is dobos torte?
Elizabeth — It might have just been the recipe. I just Googled and found on in a book result from her baking book (2005). If that’s it, it’s a very different cake, with a lot of butter and egg whites — this would be closer to what Americans would call a “white cake” that is sometimes used for weddings; people often complain that they’re sturdy but dry. Traditionally, dobos tortes are sponge cakes, as you see here, with no butter but lots of yolks, more than the whites. It makes for a rich cake.
Donna — The star instructions are in the recipe, under “Caramel Topping, if using”.
bani — I was just reading about such a cake yesterday — I think it is called a “Baumkuchen“. I’m not sure I’ve met a Central European cake I didn’t like.
Hungry Traveler — I have a great recipe for Seven Layer Cookies, if you ever want to make them at home. I don’t see why you couldn’t use a jam between these layers, though I’d go real easy on it. I find jams can quickly take over.
Nadia — You can bake each layer separately (I think that’s what Heatter had in mind, with the positioning of the rack in the middle) but it was a heat wave here and out of courtesy to the New York Power Grid (who remembers 2003?!) I did mine two at a time, and rotated them after 2 or 3 minutes.
Lisa’s Cocina — Thank you. The post took two times as long to write/edit/assemble as the cake did to make. I had a babysitter here while I made the cake — even I am not insane enough to conquer this with a toddler underfoot.
Tricia — No extra caramel. But I took the final photos in a rush (there was cake to be had!) so maybe that’s why it looks wonky.
Alice, A. — Thanks, fixed now.
Sarah Leigh — Yes, a quarter sheet pan is 9×13, though my cake once baked was smaller (due to shrinkage and also the angling of the pan sides, making it smaller at the bottom).
Sooz — The typo was that I’d left the egg yolks out of the frosting recipe, accidentally; they’re back now. Not really a ganache either, richer. But I do expect folks to be freaked out by a raw egg yolk frosting – until they try it!
Andreea — Very interesting! The caramel is traditional but the Heatter recipe didn’t include it. I gave it as an option.
It looks amazing. I’m from Hungary, and I’m so impressed that you baked our “national cake’.:) We call it Dobos torta, and it usually looks a bit different than yours. It always has caramel topping (that is the best part of it in my opinion), and it’s usually round shaped. It’s not too easy to make a classic Dobos torta, so people don’t bake them at home too often, but there are many good confectioner’s, who sell them at a good price.
Your Dobos torte looks great! This torte is often made in my country, Croatia. People tend to bake it for birthdays and special occasions.
I was going to say that this reminds me of a Smith Island cake but I see others have already mentioned this. I would guess that the main difference is the icing. I have never made one but I believe a traditional Smith Island cake requires icing made on the stove-top with a candy thermometer.
Hi! I´m out of words so I say WOWWW, it looks amasing… Your creations are one of a kind! Thanks for sharing your recepies and phots!
Milla from Sweden
Happy birthday, Deb! Your cake looks fantastic, as do all your recipes, anyway! I hope you have a great, great year, filled with the laughter of your beautiful son and of all the happy things you like.
I love, love, love your blog and learn from it everyday.Thank goodness for girls like you!
Outstanding cake…..love the photos.. ;o)
Smitten, you are indeed amazing, I think you have outdone even your own self with this baking adventure. I haven’t seen one of these tortes in over forty years, we used to get one at Christmas from one of the gourmet catalogs. Oh, how I loved all those layers and the creamy chocolate goodness between them. Hope you had a wonderful birthday, here’s to you!
I read your blog regularly, and I was very surprised to find this recipe!! I don’t know if you know this but S in dobos is read with SH. I’m from Croatia, and we call this cake ”Ma?arica” which means ”Hungarian cake”. But instead of cake layers we use biscuits more often, cause it’s easier I guess. :) You can find this cake in every bakery shop in Croatia and region.
WOW. Absolutely jaw-dropping!
This was my very favorite cake growing up. My Hungarian grandmother seldom made it herself since many bakeries in Cleveland carried it regularly. I think I’ll have to try baking it although fancy cakes like this are a challenge for me. Hope you had a great birthday!
Happy belated birthday! I love all the pictures!
Happy belated birthday! My birthday was yesterday the 13th!! Nice cake!
Oh my goodness!!! That looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it :)
Happy belated birthday :)
Oh my… this looks sooooooo good!!!!! I’m already drooling over my laptop hahaha
It’s a keeper!!
Just another Marylander saying “Gee this reminds me of a Smith Island cake!” I also happen to be from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the region where the Smith Island cake is from and made. But honestly, I don’t really like Smith Island cakes… This sound much better!
We have the same birthday! I hope yours was wonderful!
This cake is absolutely gorgeous – I’m not sure I have the patience, though i really wish I did!!
I love Dobos Torte! My Hungarian grandmother would make it (not often enough) and poured the caramel on the uniced top layer. The exciting part was when she would crack the toping to serve it. I’ve never made it (I’m a better cook than I am a baker), but this might give me the courage to try! Not sure what I’m going to do about the cigarette ashes that I’m sure fell into all her cooking…Happy belated birthday also.
Oh wow. This is something I really gotta bake. And soon. Not sure if my tots would agree.
Thanks for this recipe …I’m planning on making it for my nephew’s birthday. I’m wondering, though, about the pans and cooking. So, after the first round of layers, did you wait until your pans cooled before putting in the second round of layers?
And, I’ve never heard of pouring cake batter on parchment paper…so the cake pan is bigger than the measurements and you just pour the cake batter to fit the outline on the parchment? I’m sorry to be so slow.
Finally, it does remind me of this cake in presentation:
I’ve never tried it. Looked too intimidating!
Do those egg yolks remain raw in the frosting/filling? If so, I may have to bookmark this as a new baby celebration cake, as that’s one of the “do not eat while pregnant!” guidelines I try to follow (but don’t expect me not to take a taste of brownie batter or cookie dough for 9 months). However, with your encouraging account, I think I will not be afraid to tackle this beauty even with a newborn infant in tow. Thank you for bolstering me!
samarahuel — They remain raw.
OMG! Do you have any idea how long I have been looking for a seven-layer cake recipe? I grew up with this type of cake (and it’s close relative, the checker-board cake) in Brooklyn and periodically I have to make a request to my mother to pick a piece up for me at Lord’s Bakery in Brooklyn because I can’t find a decent one in Manhattan. Sure Fairway and Zabars have pre-packaged ones, but they don’t touch the fresh deliciousness of one from a good jewish bakery (definately a dying breed in Manhattan and much of Brooklyn too). I concluded that I would have to learn to make my own since the bakery ones are in danger of becoming extinct, so, I am definately going to try this one soon. The only thing I might change is the outer frosting. The one I get from Lords always has a very dark chocolate, I think ganache like, frosting over the outside so I will probably give that a try.
Happy Birthday, Deb. and many more!
I have been wanting to make this cake for ages–mainly because I love all things Austro-Hungarian. However, I imagined slicing a cake into 7 paper thin layers and assumed I’d never have the knife skills–this, while still intimidating, I think could actually be doable! Maybe I’ll go all out for the pre-cut parchment paper before attempting this. I think when going for challenges like this, a little splurge is in order. (Besides the splurgy end result, right?)
Gail — Yay! I learned that many of those in Jewish bakeries come from a central one; their cake is actually paerve. My father, who also fondly remembers them and will probably pipe up here soon, seemed to miss the mocha-ish buttercream filling, but I didn’t.
Sara — I would definitely do everything in my power to avoid trying to slice a cake into 7 layers. I mean, I’ve tried but it’s so hard and if you bake the cakes separately, they’re all perfect, no waste. Btw, I “allowed” myself to splurge on some pre-cut parchment (9-inch circles, since that’s the size I usually make) a while ago and it was the best. investment. ever. I am so happy to not have to cut circles all of the time.
Happy Birthday! I was surprised to read how simple this cake is to make, I may be able to pull it off myself. All the while waiting to read the part where the cake takes a day to make, especially with a 1/2 pint oven.
All of sudden I flashback to our apt in Greenwich,CT where the kitchen was the biggest room in the house, though our appliances could fit into a doll house… anyway, I offered to make 60 cupcakes for a friends daughters Birthday; red velvet cupcakes – a recipe I so graciously adapted from you and they were very-very good. These took me all day to make!!! Leaving me to never want to eat another red velvet cupcake again, the frosting is another story!
Thanks for turning me onto to all these awesome recipes and I can’t wait for your book.
Deb, you are sheer genius! This appears to be a “complicated” cake but the way you describe the ease makes me want to attempt to tackle it! Thanks for the inspiration every day. You’re great! Happy, happy birthday!!!
What a beautiful cake! It looks so much like a Smith Island cake which are infamous here in the Mid-Atlantic, in fact its the state dessert of Maryland. Happy Birthday and enjoy!
wow! this looks amazing! the pictures are making me crave for a bite instantly!
As another Hungarian who loves following your blog, I was so happy to see this! Really want to echo andrea that in order for it to be an authentic Hungarian Dobos torta (Hungarian word for cake), it has to have the hard and crunchy caramel top layer to “drum” on – the best ones are shiny and so smooth they look like the surface of a pond. In any case I look forward to making this!
Deb – I saw in an earlier post that you said you left the yolks out of the chocolate filling. Was it good as it was? I’m making a chocolate cake for my grandparent’s 60th anniversary and i’m looking for a rich chocolate icing. Just a little nervous about the raw egg yolks….Thanks!
That looks amazing! And happy birthday! :)
I have made your caramel cake for the past two years running for my birthday. Makes me wish I had waited for this (but there is no waiting for cake on your own birthday!). I am due to make another cake soon, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for deliciousness!
oh man this looks great! i will definitely have to try this out sometime soon. growing up, my gramma used to make these things for all the family get-togethers and i always wondered just how much work they took!
In south Alabama where I’ve just moved, I learned that 11, 12 and 15 layer cakes are the NORM at church dinners–7 layers cakes would be NOTHING to the ladies down here!
Dear, great cake! It reminds me to the time when I was a child and actually my wifi did a similar cake, but used butter cookies instead. In Germany we call this cake Cold Snout, what a name ( http://www.chefkoch.de/rs/s0/kalte+schnauze/Rezepte.html).
Another Hungarian here, who follows you blog and is amazed by your take on the Dobos torta. Although the caramel on top is NEVER optional. Oh, and happy belated.
Happy Birthday! This looks absolutely fantastic and delicious! :)
Hi Deb! Happy belated birthday. What a beautiful looking cake. I’ve never encountered a Dobos torte, it’s now on my to do list. I didn’t know what to get you for your birthday, but I know how much you love a caught typo, so here are a couple I found as a belated birthday present… 3rd para: “Even(t) that melted sugar madness…” and under “Prepare your cake pans”: “…flip it oven (over) and butter and flour…” Best wishes for the upcoming year, and thanks for producing such a consistently great blog.
oh, how I love this site; you just keep getting better and better.
Yummy cake! will definitely give it a try.
Oh, WOW! I’d love to try this one day.
This cake also reminds me of Smith Island cake from Maryland.We were on vacation last year in Crisfield Maryland which is nearby. After an afternoon of pickin’ crabs, this cake is great.There are many other icing and cake flavors that are made too. But the one posted by Smitten Kitchen is my favorite. Thanks for reminding me of our vacation Deb!
Now there are layers. Vertical layers!
Happy Belated Birthday to my favorite food blogger! I’m so jealous of your amazing creations and that tiny two-legged helper that follows you around. I was wondering do you think Dark Chocolate would work in the frosting? With that substitution and some fake butter I could make this for a friend who can’t handle dairy. Either way I think it’s going to have to be made for my birthday in August.
Wow! That put a smile on my face! I’m living and studying in Budapest at the moment and I must say, am not at all surprised that such a wonderful thing was created here! There are some incredible bakeries/confectionaries in this city.
Happy birthday and what a beautiful cake! I am intrigued by the lack of butter in the cake – definitely trying this out. I might try alternate layers of pistacio cream.
Happy Birthday! I’m so amazed right now! First because of the dobos torte I will try and reproduce in my own kitchen and then because out of this world’s blogs, the very few ones I follow and the even fewer ones I have closest to my heart are run by Geminis! I can’t believe my eyes! I just celebrated my birthday on June 10th! Gabrielle Blair (Design Mom) celebrates her birthday today and yours? June 11th? I’m speechless!
OMG, I am so excited to see this post! My mom is Indonesian and this reminds me of what Emily was also referring to and what we call lapis legit! Thank you for reminding me of its existence. I haven’t thought about it since I was a child. Now I’m off to go find a recipe! Haha. I will definitely try your version too. :-)
BELATED BIRTHDAY WISHES….GOD BLESS YOU<3.
This looks so yummy!
Way to go, Deb! Never knew it was so easy and will definitely try it. Will mine be as perfect looking? Who knows? I can always slice before serving and no one will know! It’s impressive either way.
Just beautiful! I’ll have to give this a try when I’m really trying to impress. It’s hard to believe that it’s really that easy!
This past weekend, as I was cutting out rounds of parchment for a cake, I was thinking it might be worth buying those pre-cut rounds. Did you order yours through King Arthur Flour (or somewhere else) or did you find a local source in NYC? Shipping can be so expensive – it would be great to know of a store that carries these. Thanks!
Oh, and happy birthday! The cake looks beautiful and delicious!
I’ve had the New Orleans version of this cake called Doberge cake. The creator took the original Dobos cake and replaced the buttercream filling with a custard filling and iced the cakes with buttercream and a thin layer of fondant.
If you are ever in NOLA, go to Haydel’s, Gambino’s or the bakery at Dorignac’s (grocery). Dorginac’s actually has miniature doberge. Flavors of the doberge are chocolate, caramel and lemon. My request for my 40th was to have a chocolate doberge cake which led to my having a 40-hour birthday party in my favorite city!
This blog post is one of the examples in the ad for the latest Google development!
Lisa — Wow! Was that on TV?
Christina — I found them on Amazon with free shipping. However, I’ve also seen them at NY Cake Supply on 22nd and Broadway Panhandler on… 8th, I think. Or I’d get them from King Arthur. If I had to pay shipping, I’d rather do so for them!
I just shake my head at this cake. You are awesome.
WOW! Its so damn impressive I cant even take it :) Looks delicious, fancy AND when you break it down, pretty easy too. Well done this is fab!
This is why you are my VERY favorite food blogger! Happy Birthday!
I can’t wait to try this, I bring home recipes just about every other night. I also wanted you to know that my husband and I are in the kitchen trying these recipes and creating a few of our own and some are better than others! Thanks for helping us find a new joy/love for cooking. :)
This would be a feat on a normal day… but on a boiling hot city summer day? You are amazing. Happy Birthday!
I just made this cake and it was sooo easy and wonderful. I did not see when to add the salt though. Added with flour and I guess it was right because mine turned out beatiful and delish. Thank you.
I’m dying to make this but was unclear about the pan size. The two choices that interest me are:
•A 12-layer 4×8-inch cake (my method, baked in 4 quarter-sheet pans, each divided into thirds)
•A 6-layer 4×8.5-inch cake (the more traditional rectangle, baked in a single 12×17-inch sheet pan.
What is the dimension of the quarter seet pan? And in the second case, how do you get 6 layers out of a 12 x 17 inch pan?
Michele — A quarter sheet pan is 9×13. You get six layers from a 12×7 by dividing the 12-inch side by thirds, making (3) 4×17-inch strips, and dividing it again on the 17-inch side, making (6) 4×8.5-inch rectangles. I heart math, as you can tell.
I’ve made many of your celebration cakes and love them all so far. Will take you on the reversed Debostorte I think, though I’m not sure if that’ll drive me insane in my own sauna of a shoebox kitchen.
Happy birthday Deb, for you made many of your readers’ (and their friends’) birthdays good ones.
Looks INCREDIBLE!!! Q for you – am I reading correctly that the icing has raw egg? Is that okay?
Was the cake you were first talking about Opera cake? It sounded more like it.
That’s a lot of layers. I think I’ll leave that kind of ambition up to you. At least until my students go on summer vacation and I have a lot more free time!!
Hungarians coming out of the woodwork for this one :) Check out http://www.mitsussek.hu/dobos_torta for an authentic recipe with good step-by-step photos (Google will translate it for you.) The caramel toppingis an absolute must!!!
I’ve been following your blog for about a year now but this is my first time commenting.
seven layer cake! I grew up with it- every shabbat there would be a fresh piece from the bakery (though it also tasted great from the freezer). i cant wait to recreate it in my kitchen!
i’ll also take this opportunity to say how much i love and appreciate your blog. you are my “go to” for recipes, tips and techniques, etc. I’ve really learned a lot from you and feel way more competent and confident in the kitchen. every recipe i’ve made from here has been great!
also, i love the new york anecdotes and photos of your adorable son. thanks for being a fabulous blogger…and i can’t wait for your cookbook to be published!
Could the cake be replaced by a choco cake and the filling with custard instead? My children would prefer custard to the rich chocolate.
Happy birthday! (mine was yesterday, fellow gemini.) The seven layer cake is very big in my husband’s family, I can’t wait to make this for them!
You gave me a perfect idea: I just finished baking this luscious 7-layer Hungarian torte for my (Viennese-born) father’s 97th birthday. Your directions were great and it was quite straightforward. The frosting is amazingly silky, light, and delicious. I can’t wait to try it!
Happy birthday! With a hungarian eyes from Budapest, it seems almost 100% perfect and authentic. I missed the caramell layer from the top.
Without the caramell on the top, We call the cake “Sefánia” cake.
And thank You the story of the cake as well.
Happy Birthday Deb! That’s a birthday cake worth having. I must say, i love the effort you put into the post, the instructions are so well detailed, it gives me the confidence to go try it right now!
Hmm.. what kind of tweaking would 1 need if they wanted to make it more of a milk chocolate frosting…
(long time no post, hi deb!)
Wow! I too remember this cake from my childhood and finding the recipe in my inbox this morning has made me sooooooo happy. I’m going to have a go at making this for my daughter Ruthie’s birthday which is coming up soon. Luckily she is only 8- so I shall go for the 7 layers plus one. Will block out the full 5 hours to make plus an extra bit for converting to gluten free. One question- the one my mum used to make had layers of apricot jam in between. Have you come across this version?
Just saw a story on FOX news channel 5(in NY) about gooogle pages loading faster an one of the pages used as an example was your Dobos Torte page ! Wait to make this cake it was always a family favorite
I remember eating this cake while I studied in Hungary. It was a favorite at the local coffee shop. I’ve had a recipe but never attempted it. I just might have to make it for my birthday in August!
The Austro-Hungarians have it aced in the dessert category. How magnificent! Congrats on the birthday, Deb, and on pumping out another splendid recipe under trying circumstances! Wishing you a winning year:)
sanity is for underachievers
Why is it that the degree of awesomeness of a cake is directly proportional to the number of layers? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that you get high higher ratio of that tasty filling in each bite? There’s also the impressive presentation value – people are absolutely amazed at the site of such a dish. I absolutely love multi-layered desserts like the Dobos Torte, but I’ve never made one myself. You make it sound easy. Easy enough that I’ll have to try it myself. Thanks for the great post.
Holy cow, I had to stop for a drink of water and a walk-around before I got to this little comment box! While I am not skillful enough to ever MAKE this cake, I am delighted to learn how it’s made. In New Orleans, it’s called doberge cake, and of course, the culinary mavens in that city claim it was invented there. I DO think the doberge has a kind of custard between every other layer, and the outside is sometimes wrapped in a thin layer of fondant, but it looks the same and tastes heavenly. I always wondered, though, how they got the layers so thin and how they separated them until time to frost/custard them. Thanks for the visual lesson.
Also, I adore your photos of food and have many, many, many of them.
Are you so very good at everything you do? I believe you must be, and I thank you for sharing it all with us.
No way! I love Dobos! I used to live in Lafayette and we would get them from a local bakery there called pouparts, so delicious! My dad loves yellow cake with chocolate icing, so this is just in time for Father’s day, thanks! Hey Deb, do you have Alice Medrich’s cookbook, Gooey Chewy Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-mouth cookies? I got it a few weeks ago and have loved all the recipes I have tried so far. I am giving one away on my blog, you should check it out!
Your site inspires me! I too have a shoebox kitchen of ridiculous portions, with temperature so high in the summer I swear I could fry an egg on the counter…and yet I bake too in the summer, sometimes even more than usual. My husband thinks I am insane but the kids love it! Often I am cursing more than I would like but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. This cake looks fantastic and I will definitely try it out soon. Thanks for another awesome recipe :)
You say it’s easy, you make it look so easy…so therefore I will try it this weekend! Mmm, thank you for sharing another wonderful recipe!
Wow–you made it into the Google Instant pages video. Cool. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/06/announcing-instant-pages.html
Question? Did you get all 11 layers from one batch of batter?
Susan — Yes, I did. The loaf cakes are smaller than 9-inch rounds (area: 32ish versus 64) so you can make a taller cake from the same batter.
My Grandma cooked for a wealthy, Chicago North Shore family who taught her how to make this cake. Later, she made them special order out of her own kitchen (and made a pretty penny from them). If we were really, really good kids, we would get one for special occasions.
I remember as a child, watching her make them, layer after layer coming out of the oven. And here’s her trick for making perfectly round layers; she used the bottom of a spring form pan to spread the batter on. She had two, one went in the oven while the other one was prepped.
Oh, and the caramel on the top…that was the best part!
How funny for me to see a Dobos torta on a “foreign” blog (I am Hungarian). It turned out really nice. Thanks for sharing and introducing this recipe in your blog that many people reads.
And I also wish you a happy birthday.
I check my email on my phone every morning while laying in bed–kind of my wake up routine. Once I saw your post, I remembered when Joe Pastry did it on his site and also remembered that I had intended to make it then but didn’t have enough eggs on hand. Well, yesterday was my day off and I had a ton of eggs waiting for me to put to good use and we were celebrating Fathers’ Day early last night and my dad loves chocolate… So when I saw the email, I jumped out of bed and headed to the kitchen.
I made the cake in 2-3 hours time. Really, it is pretty simple considering the elaborate-looking results. My advice to others who make it would be to use the smaller quarter sheet pans if they want a loaf shape. I baked two 13×18 layers but it was very tricky turning them out of the pans, onto the cooling rack, then onto the cutting board without them tearing.
The frosting is delicious, don’t forgo the egg yolks. Folks who are worried about germs can pasteurize the eggs before hand. Just google how to it.
Everyone loved the cake and were very impressed with the 12 layers. My dad declared it the best cake he had ever had. Amazingly, he says this every time I bake a dessert (which is pretty often), so either he has short term memory loss or I am constantly out-doing myself ;)
P.S. I didn’t see mention of when to add the salt to the batter–I assumed it is added with the flour. Sorry if I just overlooked it.
this reminds me of my favorite cake growing up, but it had peanut butter icing in it instead. Memories!!
Happy Birthday to you! Beautiful cake.
Wow it really looks delicious! Happy birthday to you. I came across your blog not so long ago and it’s always very interesting to have a look here.
Happy birthday! This looks amazing … going to try it this weekend for a Father’s Day Celebration Cake. Do you have the recipe for the star cookies on top? That would really complete it!
As another Hungarian I am really surprised too, I didn’t know that our “Dobos torta” is known on the other side of the world:P So thanks for sharing!
P.S. The caramel topping is not optional, it is a must:)
Ah, that looks SO fantastic! Thanks for sharing!
It’s a hungarian cake, and very nice to see it here. (I’m typing from Hungary)
But it’s not “torte” it’s “torta” :) And it neeeeeds a massive caramel topping!
I suggest you to explore hungarian kitchen, foods, it’s really amazing.
+ Happy birthday! I love your blog :)
I wish your birthday was before mine, then I would have known to make this amazing looking cake two weeks ago, instead of my usual spice cake with cream cheese frosting (which was still good, but nothin’ new). I love all your recipes and the way you write, Happy Birthday!!!
This is an AMAZING recipe! I cannot wait to try this. I thought I had my food picked out for the week but this may have to take precedence.
Have you ever seen a Smith Island cake? Sounds similar but frosting is unreal. I could swim in it.
this is freakin awesome!!! im all down for making it now but i know the moment i step out of my AC’d room and into the kitchen im gonna throw in the towel and say “EFF THIS!”
oh AND, life is too precious to clean out your bowl! that’s why I got a second one so now i can make twice the mess :D best investment ever!
I’m speechless! It was even better than the old 7 layer cake with the mocha butter cream filling (although it wasn’t really butter cream since it was kosher and “parve.” Only one problem!
Your mother ate the last piece without offering to share it. I guess you’re just going to have to do it again.
(Grandpa Joe is probably smiling.)
Another reader of Hungarian descent coming out of the woodwork to say I’m happy to see you tackle our baking. My grandmother would make four dobos torta’s a year. She would make them all at one time and freeze them until there was a special occasion. then she would pull them out and top them with the carmel. She’s 95 now, so my mother and I have taken over the torta baking. We always make ours round and have special 9″ flat pans with no sides (like the bottom of a springform pan without the bumps) that we use. We have 4 and can generally crank out several cakes in a short period of time. Also, the carmel is most certainly not optional! That top layer with the crunchy hard carmel is always the part we eat last, as it’s the best. Happy Birthday from a fellow Gemini!
Girl, you crazy. Turning an oven on during that heat wave? sheesh. Once the temperature hit 98, I considered pouring vodka over an ice cube, cooking.
Gosh. wow. so, you’re telling me there’s a chance I could pull this off? I love it. I hope your birthday was excellent. My husband and I have a running birthday cake contest for each other. I’m going to tell him I want this one. His bar has been raised.
Holy moly this looks amazing! It’s been a while since I’ve been so inspired by a recipe and this once has gone and done it! It’ll make the best father’s day treat! Thanks for sharing, Deb!
The idea of so many layers is absolutely terrifying to me. Way to make everything look so easy! I’ll get my gumption up and try one of these days. :)
Happy Belated Birthday! Your gorgeous cake reminds me of the photos in the Swiss Colony catalog. Did you ever get the cheese catalogs which also had petit fours and a beautiful multi-layered cake which would probably be ghastly, but I always wanted to try one. Now maybe I can bake one myself. Thanks for the recipe.
Happy birthday and…hooray! The combination of thin layers and lots of chocolate icing makes me think I could pull off a gluten free version. This may just be my anniversary cake!
In THAT heat?!? Clearly, you are NUTS … but the cake is stellar.
As usual I am in awe. Happy Birthday to the mother of the world’s most adorable baby — and he keeps getting cuter every day. How is this possible?
hi Deb, I have a question that doesn’t pertain to this recipe, but you’re my favorite food blogger, so I thought I’d ask you…and this is probably a dumb question, so please pardon…
when a recipe calls for cheese in ounces, is it the weight or volume after it’s grated? i’m getting ready to make mac n cheese this weekend, and just realized i’m not quite sure about the recipe, or do they come out the same? THANKS!!!
winnie — With a weight measurement, it would be the same either way. (This is why using weight measurements is always the easiest.) 1 ounce of grated cheese or a 1 ounce chunk of cheese that you then grate would weigh the same. It’s not an uncommon question, though usually it’s about differentiating: “1 cup ground almonds” = the cup is measured from a pile of ground almonds. “1 cup almonds, ground” (not the comma, word placement) = you take one cup of whole almonds, and then grind them.
Looks stunning. What’s your guess on how many people this would serve? (as a dessert after a large, festive meal). I’d like to make it for a big family thing this summer, and I’m wondering if I should make 2 or 3.
What a magnificent cake; it’s so beautiful and perfectly frosted. I want to eat the entire thing!
Happy Birthday, Deb! This cake looks amazing, and the photo of Jacob wiping down the fridge is priceless! :-)
So delicious! Thank you!
Happy Birthday Deb! That cake looks amazing!
happy birthday! this cake is stunning! i love the tall skinny shape and the thin thin layers – so delicate and professional looking. i am very impressed ;) thank you for sharing!
OMG that cake looks so decedant! I wish I was eating that right now instead of my breakfast. DELICIOUS!!
I made this the other day, BTW, in a fit of pregnancy-based craziness. I got 2 12×17 (okay, Chicago Metallic: 11.75″x16.75″) jelly roll sheets out of the recipe, which works out to 11″x16″ sheets of cake when baked and trimmed–I got thick edges that needed to be evened out. So, 11 layers plus the caramel one that were slightly smaller than Deb’s measurements; I did a single caramel layer that I just cut into strips and propped up on hazelnuts.
It came out really well and I was impressed with myself. For anyone who tries it: Stack the layers and make sure you’ve cut them evenly, because even with a ruler, there’s always the possibility you were slightly off (I was, not very much, but a tiny bit), and with so many layers, it really helps to have them as even as possible. The frosting made just enough for a cake that size and I might actually make a little more next time to get a thicker layer on the outside. If you’re sticking to 6 layers I suspect you’d have plenty.
Thanks for the recipe. This is my favourite cake after Sacher Torte.
Well, since I have been a total copycat (and a supreme lover of celebration cakes) and have made all of your birthday cakes as my birthday cakes, I too shall be enjoying a dobos torte soon! Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!
Google used your website in a video, and it made me smile that Google loves you as much as I do! You’re my go-to for recipes when I’m looking to impress
Forgot to include the link for you!
Do you know why you are my favorite food blogger? Because you tell us to dunk the cake batter bowl right away to make cleaning easier.
That sort of information (and all your other tips) is priceless and really makes this cake seem doable to the novice baker! Thank you.
You had me at chocolate.
Actually, I looked at the picture and I thought I’ll have time to bake this cake when my toddler and baby are bearded men and out of the house. But your description convinced me. It does look easy. I have to try this for my niece’s birthday party.
I remember well the Dobos Torte from my time in Budapest, I was writing a guide to the city and had to eat lots of cakes :-). It sounds like a dream job, but a week to try all those Hungarian cakes is not much, some (like Dobos) are so sweet and rich!!!
But I never seen a Dobos with so many layers…
looks like the perfect celebration cake to me!
This reminds me of the Smith Island Cake from Maryland. I never knew how they made the layers so thin but now I’m not afraid of it anymore!
I’ve never eaten a dobos torte before – although I’ve seen them in pastry shops and intimidating recipes before – but, like Deb, hot, busy summer days inspire me to drop everything and smear cake batter on every surface of my tiny apartment kitchen.
I followed the 12×17-inch sheet pan plan. Worked fine. When you turn it out onto a cooling rack, it gets a little bit dented with the rack’s wires – but if you center the cake on the rack, you can use these as handy cutting guides. I cut the layer easily down into 6 pieces. It took 9 minutes to bake, though, as my sheet pan is pretty thick. Super easy. I also sprinkled each layer with a little completely nontraditional Cointreau, to give the cake a bit more flavor to offset the chocolate. I’ll see what my friends say later…
This is my traditional birthday cake (purchased at a small bakery in NJ, of course) and you posted it on my birthday! Made my day. Happy birthday to you too!
Wow! This cake looks incredible! We celebrated our 2 year blog anniversary on Wednesday and I think I might just have to make this cake to celebrate. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing!
You are UNBELIEVABLE! I bow down to you! You make something so intimidating seem so simple. Happy Birthday and looking forward to more baking marvels! :)
thanks deb! this reminds me of smith island cake…well worth every layer! delicious times 10! http://www.originalsmithislandcakeco.com/
Ok, you definitely made me think about finding the right afternoon for the Dobos Torte. That is, any afternoon beginning from today.
Great sigh of happiness. So glad you’ve spotlighted dobos torte. It’s always been ‘my’ birthday cake, right after a meal of stuffed cabbage.Three cheers for George Lang.
Those pictures look brilliant. Really tasty.
What a wonderful tradition for your birthday cake. This torte looks so European and could easily sit in a pastry shop window. It’s really lovely. I can’t wait to try it.
My father is from Budapest and when I was a child he would order this cake by mail from Austria for special occasions. I am flying home for our birthdays in a couple of weeks and now I know what I am baking! Thanks you for reminding me of our awesome tradition!
I’m sure you must have seen this, or maybe gotten a heads up, but in a new Google video about how fast pages load in Chrome, they Google and visit smitten kitchen! The screen shot is of this post! http://youtu.be/_Jn93FDx9oI
This reminds me of the cassata my sister always made for dad’s birthday. She recently round a recipe for cassata ice cream and surprised us with it for mom’s birthday…
I like the cake being layered. Yummy photos too. The art of it says ‘eat me! I’m delicious’ :)
Have you come across Smith Island Cakes? I believe there are 11 layers of cake and chocolate icing, but very similar.
Happy Birthday! And when I saw this on your blog, I was so happy. I have been following smittenkitchen.com for a while … one of the few websites I actually type out instead of just bookmark and go to haha!
I can always count on there to be, on this site, some ridiculous laborious recipe. I love it. This is definitely on my to-bake list … my ever EVER growing list.
It looks gorgeous, and the stars are fabulous. I don’t know if I could do that with caramel. Fabulous cake! I know you guys probably enjoyed it!
I love this! It looks spectacular. And it’s my birthday next Friday so perhaps that’s just the excuse I need to have a go.
Happy belated birthday to you, hope you had a lovely day :)
Many happy returns!
Deb you’re amazing.
I have looked over all your responses, over your entire recipe, and saw the part about stenciling the parchment paper. My questions is when you are talking about either the 4 quarter-sheet pans or the 12×7 pans, and you talk about ‘dividing’ it, how do you divide it? Is it just cutting it after it’s been baked? Is it doing the stenciling with the parchment paper? Sorry to be so dense!!
Mame M. — Quarter sheet pans are 9×13, though the cake ends up 8×12 after shrinking and also because sheet pan sides angle out a bit. If you’re using 4 of them, you’d divide them along the 12-inch side into thirds to make 12 4×8-inch layers. You can cut it on a counter or cutting board once it’s cool, which will be all of 5 minutes after you take it out of the oven and transfer it to a cooling rack. I explain dividing the 12×17 layer in Comment #221.
This looks so pretty! I’m not a brave as you; I wouldn’t turn my oven on to heat up my already hot apartment :).
This looks so fantastic…I’ve decided I have to make it for Father’s Day for my boyfriend’s dad. He better love it!
woww! this looks absolutely amazing! It reminds me of Baumkuchen :) I bet this cake didn’t last long. It definitely wouldn’t have in my house. Looks too good!
1) I’ll stop complaining about 90º heat now.
2) I’ll stop complaining about my kitchen.
3) This was a delight to read.
4) I’m trying this cake! — When it’s not so hot. :o)
Yum! the layers of cake and chocolate looks perfect. I went to a chocolate festival last week and this could definatley be one of the foods showcased.
My Namo used to make her cheater version of a Dobos Torta all the times. She stopped making the real version after she had a gaggle of grandchildren who didn’t always appreciate the hard work. :-) The cheater version takes a frozen pound cake (Sara Lee was the one most easily obtained) and uses an electric knife to slice it. My Napo had a record of being able to slice it into 11 layers without messing up. Then, she’d melt a bag of good quality semi-sweet chips with a bit of vanilla, a stick of butter, and about a 1/3 cup of coffee (good stuff for guests, instant for kids). Then she would decorate the top with sliced almonds. I much prefer the real version, but the cheater version is good for people in a time crunch or with kids.
seriously your blog is great but YOU BARELY UPDATE IT!!!!!!!!! so annoying i don’t enjoy reading this blog b/c it stays the same for way toooooooooo long!
Dobos Torte was my brother’s and my birthday cake growing up. And it’s still my favorite. I’ve always thought of it as a 14-layer cake because that’s how my mother described it. Guess the chocolate layers can count too! Fabulous post.
This looks great – and I think I read a book that talked about this type of cake, but can’t for the life of me remember what the book was…..
I just made this for the first time today, and , while it didn’t look quite right, it was phenomenal. I only got five layers out of my sponge cake, due to accidentally ruining part of it, but it was still good. I didn’t have any lemons, so I used orange blossom water, which imparted a lovely and subtle floral taste to the cake.
Wow, how yummy! I’ve made dobos torte before in the traditional round way but this looks so much easier and quicker! I must find an occasion for it! Thanks for a new twist on an old classic that makes our lives easier!
I made this, it’s fantastic, just one word of advice:
Baking the layers in a 12×17 pan is great, but flipping/handling that big piece of cake is NOT EASY. I managed it but only just and I almost lost the entire cake a few times. I think in the future (ha! that means I plan to make this again), I make a few smaller layers for easier handling.
I make everyone else’s cake but always got this torte for my birthday too until the bakery stopped making it. You can special order it with a minimum of 40 cakes! Ha! Oh well, I love to bake so now I’ll be trying it. Thanks for your great blog.
This looks really nice. The caramel layer is what really defines the ‘dobos torta’ besides all the layers though. I personally don’t like it but I am one of the very very few Hungarians who don’t. This is why I love how you incorporated the caramel, in such a creative way which would make want to give it another go, maybe I would like it this time :)
Thanks Deb! That’s just what I was confused at, was the ‘dividing’ just cutting them, or was it some pre-baking step I wasn’t aware of/didn’t know how to do. Sometimes I put a bit too much thought into things!
How far ahead do you think you can make the frosting/filling? Thanks!
I don’t think I’d make it ahead of time at all. It would be hard to re-soften it without melting the butter/splitting the chocolate/messing up the yolks. But maybe someone else will pipe up if they’ve pulled it off.
I made this cake for my husband’s birthday over the weekend. It took about 3 hours altogether. It was so delicious! Everyone loved it, especially the fact that it seemed to have more “caramelized edges” because of the many layers. Some notes:
– I made 8 layers by making two jellyroll pans into fourths. This made a slightly longer/fatter rectangle and worked very well.
– I don’t have two large cooking racks, so to turn the layers out, I followed a trick from making a jelly roll cake: sprinkle a couple of flour sack dish towels semi-heavily with powdered sugar, then turn the cakes out on the towels. I peeled off the parchment and let them cool on the towels on the counter and it worked fine.
– My kitchen is hovering in the low 90s, especially when the oven is on. The frosting/filling was practically liquid, so I might not make this again in the summer.
– I didn’t have enough frosting to cover the cake. I may have used a little too much filling in between the layers, or it could have been that I couldn’t whip enough air into it because it was too warm. I ended up having enough for the filling and the crumb coat, then had to make an extra half-batch to make the cake look nice and covered.
I made this for Father’s Day and it was a great success! The only thing I had trouble with was telling whether or not the recipe had you line the pans with parchment paper or if that was only for the circular cake? I couldn’t tell so I did it without and had to execute circus acts to get the layers out- maybe because my only 13 x 9 pan is a casserole pan?
i should’ve thought about the fact that the smell of raw eggs makes me gag before i made this! that’s all i could smell/taste. even when I was in the process of making the batter, I was a little put off by the amount of egg but I kept pushing through, i wanted the cake so bad haha. i totally skipped making the frosting because i couldn’t handle any more egg. I made a simple chocolate frosting. I have to say it looked beautiful but i could not get over the eggy taste :(
this reminds me of a fourteen layer cake that a great-aunt of mine makes. i have only had it once or twice (i have only met her once or twice) and it is incredible. now i feel inspired to move it up on my list of things to bake soon.
This cake looks amazing! I am really concerned about the raw egg yolk in the frosting though…. Is there anything I can substitute for it?
You could use this frosting instead. It’s different, more American, but also delicious.
I must make this cake. Looks beautiful– assembly reminds me of rainbow (seven-layer) cookies, my fave!
This was the first recipe I have made from this site – like many other commentators here, the picture and writeup was just too inviting. I made the cake first, then made the frosting the next day. I had never made a sponge cake before and that was a new experience; I do not think my cake would have survived the depanning method described, so next time I may just let it cool in the pan.
Frosting is insanely good; I did 80% bittersweet, 20% semisweet and would probably adjust the ratio next time.
such a showstopper of a dessert and so little real effort. Thank you!
I just wanted to say being able to read your blog on Flipboard is auh-mazing.. i have been a blog stalker of yours for a few years and when i purchased my iPad.. seeing your blog on one of my favorite apps was a great surprise!! :D
I make this with my Hungarian Grandma who came over from Hungary after the war. We make it foe my Dad because its his favorite and he’s been having it every year since he was a kid. We make 7 layers but my Grandma said there was a bakery in Hungry that made them with 27 layers! I couldn’t imagine! I just thought it was cool you made this, I didn’t know it was that popular.
Thank goodness you mentioned that the initial batter should have the consistency of spackle! You were not kidding! I would have been fairly worried about my cake, but it certainly did loosen up nicely with the egg white.
For the record, this made 8 layers for me in 9″ round pans and I had just about a 1/4 cup extra frosting.
Beautiful! I’m half-Hungarian and went to Budapest for the first time this April — the Dobos Torte there was wonderful. I’d seen it in cookbooks before my trip but hadn’t yet made it — this has given me a renewed motivation. Also, I love your caramel stars! One recipe I saw said the top layer should be removed and eaten separately, so why not cut it into fun shapes?
You can make your own ricotta? That easily? Awesome! I can’t wait to try it.
This looks simply amazing. It even makes me want to give it a try…thanks for posting!
Took me about 5 hours to make this as well Deb, although I was cooking dinner at the same time. Not sure if it was worth all the time the measuring took but that might just be my taste buds. Cake was way too sweet for me but my boyfriend and the majority of my friends liked it. I will say that drinking some red wine with it really helped cut the sweetness and made it more enjoyable for me. I also loved the way it looked (I followed your dimensions and made the stars too!). More than anything I was just excited that I was able to create something so elegant looking. I cook a lot but don’t often tackle cake projects like this! I enjoyed your “best birthday cake” with the sour cream chocolate frosting more as it suited my taste a little better. Thanks for making me branch out though!
Deb, if I wanted to make a cake with the same amount of layers as the one you made, would I need to double the batter? I plan to use the 12×17 approach you described in the notes, which I know would only give me six layers. Should I just use one batch of the batter, spread a little more thinly in two pans? Would that be enough or is doubling it the way to go?
Hi Nicole — I used the third method I listed: “A 12-layer 4×8-inch cake (my method, baked in 4 quarter-sheet pans, each divided into thirds)”. I did not double the recipe.
This looks fantastic and I’m attempting to bake it tonight, I’m definitely scared!
Dobos tarte! In my family it is a special treat that is doled out over several days. My grandma always put almonds in the filling… I need to try to make it. I am very tempted!
I definitely want to make, this and so I don’t scare my husband off with the name, I’ll just call it Kit Kat cake. Looks incredible!
Thanks Deb! I made this tonight (you were totally right, no need to double the batter) and it was fantastic! Very impressive and truly delicious.
I saw this cake online last night and ran out and got all of the ingredients. Well I just made it and sob sob after all of my hard work it did not come out. :-( So sad I am. I opted for the last option because I have family coming over for my daughter’s 6th bd. The 6 layer cake made sense. Well I cooked the cake for 7 minutes and 40 seconds. It was golden on top with a small amount of browning as well. I waited a minute before i turned it out onto the rack and when I peeled the parchment off the entire cake managed to make itself onto the counter as it fell through the rack. I knew i should have tried option 3! I am left with a huge mess to clean up and I am crying. Wish I had imore ingredients i would do it all over right now but it is time for my 2 year old to nap. If anyone is listening please do not opt for the last option….please Please do not post this!
You inspired me – and I made it – and it looked good and tasted even better! While I’m not a novice baker, I was a little intimidated, but decided to just jump in and go for it. I baked the cake in two sheet pans and then cut each sheet into quarters, for a total of eight layers. One of the layers disintegrated, so it ended up being the traditional 7-layers. It was soooooooo good, and I feel very accomplished as a baker now… :) Thanks for the inspiration!
Deb – I did it! http://theearlyriser.blogspot.com/2011/06/layers-of-love.html
Hi! I made this cake last weekend, and it was delicious! I just wasn’t sure when I was supposed to add the salt. Does it go with the flour or the egg whites?
Made this cake twice now and it’s been amazing both times! The pictures tempted me and both myself and friends are very glad it did. I made it GLUTEN FREE using King Arthur gluten free multi purpose flour (http://bit.ly/iGfE9H) and added 2 Teaspoons Guar Gum (xantham gum would probably work better but in a different amount- but I can eat corn or corn based items). The texture was excellent and the cake kept for quite sometime- 8 days. I also had to make a batch and 1/2 of the frosting as there wasn’t quite enough frosting for 12 layers and then to completely cover the exterior in a nice coat. Thanks for a great recipe and instructions!
My husband’s birthday is also in June, and as part of his present I make whatever he wants for his birthday dinner. This means I usually end up baking something out of the ordinary for dessert. Last year it was an opera cake, this year it was your torte. The short version: it was amazing and I already want another.
Gory details: I only have one quarter sheet pan, but I own four of what I would call cookie sheets (about 10 x 14 x 0.5), so I prepped all four of them with the intention of baking the cake sheets in pairs. I ended up getting six sheets of cake from the recipe, though, so I had to wash and reprep two of the pans. I mention this because I was worried the sponge batter would deflate by the time I had baked the first four layers and cleaned two of the pans, but it was okay. So it’s safe to let it sit for 15 minutes or so while the other layers bake. I cut each cake sheet into three for a total of 18 layers.
I was a bit leery of the raw eggs in the icing, so I invented my own by mashing together your recipe and the Cook’s Illustrated chocolate buttercream recipe. I ended up using 12 oz chocolate, 12 oz salted butter and 1 tsp vanilla. I used semisweet chocolate and found it a little bit sweet, so I would use bittersweet next time. I like very understated sweetness in desserts though so that might just be me. This made enough icing for the cake but there wasn’t a ton left over.
The result was delicious, very impressive looking, and only took about 3 hours. My only complaint is that it’s hard to cut a neat slice of this cake, even when it’s straight out of the fridge. Nobody seemed to mind, though. :) Since it disappeared in a day I can’t say anything about its longevity.
As I was baking, I was thinking a fun variant for a kid’s birthday might be a rainbow cake…divide the cake batter, dye each part, and use vanilla icing so the colours really pop. It wouldn’t be traditional but it would be very eye-catching.
I made this last week. The cake is indeed very good. But i with i have some thing else to serve with it, like a berry compote or whipped cream. The cake it self if very good, but i was hoping for some contrast.
I doubled the recipe and make it into a large snickers’s bar of 4×10. I ruined one of the half sheet pans because i was too concerned and tried to flip it while it is too underbaked (giant mess).
This cake uses a lot of powdered sugar, i weighted everything, and was short, i sent out the guy to get some more. He ended up with organic powdered sugar and it is hard to get the clumps out of the frosting… err…
all the ladies liked it. Thank you.
Just had a piece of the finished product. Oh my! It does remind me of the 7-layer cakes my family would sometimes get at the local Jewish bakery when we lived in NJ.
I do plan on trying it again. Next time I will be more careful and weigh the batter. I ended up only getting to 10-layers since my first layer was a bit thick and then it cracked, but it worked out well. Is more than enough cake. Since you have to move it to a clean bowl to make the egg whites, all I need to do is remember to get a tar weight.
The icing is really divine. And easy. I think I might try a slightly sweeter chocolate next time.
Thanks for posting this & Happy Belated Birthday!!!
I had never made myself a birthday cake before but I’m certain I have started a delicious tradition by making this. I used the parchment paper/cookie sheet method of making the layers and some turned out with a touch of extra crispy where I left the batter a bit thin. Fortunately everyone thought that was on purpose. And I kept quiet :)
Oh my word. Deb Perelman – you are a star. This has to be the best birthday cake I want to make ever! And today’s my special day – even though I won’t be making this, its good enough to long to make it. Thank you
And did I mention I’m 35 today – there’s no way I’d attempt a 35 layer version. But many thanks for the suggestion!
This looks absolutley delicious. I really have to try it.
It reminds me of a cake my aunt made called “Kalter Hund”, which means cold dog. It looks almost the same but is made with buiscuits and almost pure chocolate around it.
I had a Hungarian nanny when I was little, and she made this cake for birthdays. I loved it but never knew what it was. I made this recipe yesterday, and it’s as good as I remember her cakes. Makes me feel 6 years old again. Thanks!
This brings back memories of times spent in New Orleans. Joe Gambino’s dobosh tortes were THE thing to order for special occasions. My late brother-in-law loved them so much. Thank you for this recipe!
question, i made this cake for this saturday and put it in the freezer. Is this too early??
Happy Belated Birthday, Deb!! This is such a stunning cake…I love the caramel stars! I’ve been wanting to make your crepe cake since you posted it, but now I want to make this, too. Must have a thing for thin layers!
Hi there… stunning cake plus story:) this cake batter is similar to my sponge recipe, except that that has 2 oz flour, 2 oz sugar and 2 eggs. However, it uses 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and i was just wondering how come the lack of any in this recipe doesnt hurt it . Also, I’d heard that fat-free cakes dont freeze well, yet you say this does fine (which is exciting, because I’m wondering if that means I can freeze my sponges too)- or is that true only for your recipe because of the extra yolks?
Thanks for cheering us all on that this cake can be simple! I tend to shy away from baking projects that look tedious! But I read all the directions and it seems completely doable.
I can’t stop thinking about this cake…am going to attempt it this weekend, for my friend’s birthday – and we’re suddenly having a heat wave…
I have to say, your little Jacob is about the cutest little guy on the planet (I thought my nephew was…but…)
Thanks so much for all the inspiration over the past few years!…a lot of days I think…what on earth should I make for dinner? , and then I think – Oh, I’ll check with Smitten Kitchen and get some ideas, and very often I end up making what you made.
Looking forward to your book!
Hey Deb I JUST did this cake with chocolate chips in the layers and fresh orange zest butter cream frosting, at the request of the birthday girl.
I had already bought the chips for the frosting, when she nixed the chocolate frosting in favor of the orange.
Lordy, what a lot of work the first time, mostly from worry lol. But now I’ve got it, and will continue to impress folks in the future with this really cool technique, though mine came out almost like marzipan.
Very impressed that you tackled this with no counter space, inspired me to do the same. Ps the chocolate chips were a bad idea, now I know why. But, nothing ventured, etc :)
The cake looks gorgeous and delicious. I cannot wait to try this.
Have a great weekend.
Deb, I’m curious about the caramel topping: to what temperature/stage do you boil the sugar? I’ve trolled the Internet and seen many comments about it being “too chewy” and want to avoid this pitfall — I don’t know that I trust myself to eyeball its color to judge doneness.
And side note: just before I went on TWO back-to-back camping trips I unearthed your recipes for marshmallows and graham crackers; I had enough time to amass the ingredients but not enough to make anything to take with us. :) Hmm, guess we’ll get city s’mores now that we’re back!
Joshua — I didn’t note the temperature but as soon as it is all melted, it will be plenty dark and definitely time to pour it.
I made this cake for father’s day and it was superb! My decorations were diamond shapes instead of the stars…………excellent cake………..saving the recipe to make again.
I made this yesterday for my boyfriend’s workplace baking contest (pretty sure he’ll be taking the credit though!). It turned out beautifully! I used three rectangular pans and cut them in three to make nine layers (I was intending to do your 12 but kind of miscalculated and only divided it in three, not four…)
I replaced the filling in two of the layers with a homemade strawberry/balsamic/star anise jam to break up the chocolate intensity a bit, and garnished the top with fresh strawberries.
And I see what you mean about the frosting! I am still a little freaked out about poisoning everyone with raw eggs BUT the consistency was just beautiful and it dries much firmer than a normal buttercream, making it much sturdier for transport and harder to accidentally mess up once it’s done.
Thank you so much for an afternoon of fun in the kitchen with a beautiful result!
Hope you had a great birthday Deb! And that cake looks great and you say its not that difficult to make?? Im taking your word on it and trying it out asap!Bookmarking this. Thanks for sharing!
It’s only an iphone photo, but LOOK at my version! http://www.flickr.com/photos/59445802@N05/5936065403/in/photostream I’m changing roles at work and moving to a different part of the organisation, so I wanted something to wow my colleagues and this was perfect. Due to leaving drinks yesterday, I did have to get up at 6am to ice this, but it was worth every hungover moment! Thanks Deb. I need to make it again, there are a couple of things I’ll do differently – if you’re interested, as a UK person I need to alter your eggs because I think ours are bigger or maybe just use a different scale, but there was too much, and I will also use a darker chocolate – mine was 70%, but I think I’ll need an 85% to get the deep flavour I want in the frosting and to get it to match yours colourwise. I’d also use salted butter in the frosting – I think there’s a bit of a cultural difference that says we prefer our frosting to have a touch of salt in it, or it might just be me! Mostly, I need to get the internal frosting proportions right, and to get a better oven – it’s not the kind of cake designed to be baked in an old fashioned gas oven which won’t get above 400 degrees F. Bah. Thanks so much though, I’m looking to expand my celebration cakes repertoire and this was perfect for that!
me and my friends found this cake to be a little too sweet. it was fun to make, but i don’t think i’ll be able to get through it.
some advice from my experience, i used semi-sweet chocolate, found the frosting to be too sweet, so i added in some bitter-sweet chocolate to balance it out, but it was probably still too much sugar. with the cake itself being so sweet, i would recommend making a subdued frosting to try to balance it out.
Deb, you’re my hero. I’m baking a cake in 100-degree weather, want to do a dobos torte, and you tell me that this cake will not die in the heat. It does not. I’ve never made a sponge cake from scratch, or such thin layers, but my 10 8″ layers all look beautiful. You were right that it’s simple (and timing was spot-on, too—it took 3 hours, including cutting my own parchment circles). The metric weights also help quite a bit. Thank you!!!
I just had to tell you how happy this post made me. Growing up my mother made Dobos Torte on my birthday every year. She is from Romania and she was taught to make it by her mother. It was truly a labor of love. I’m not sure I would ever have the patience or time to make it which is kinda sad but makes me appreciate my mother even more.
I managed to make this cake in about an hour! It was a cinch to whip up and make, although I was really worried when the batter looked like spackle. Thank goodness you warned about that in the recipe, or I would have completely despaired.
The weirdest thing about the cake is thinking “hm, 13 eggs really fit in that cake?!”
I made it in a 12×17 sheet pan, and it took about 8 minutes to bake. So fast!
Now this cake has been consumed, to much acclaim. I found, however, that the chocolate frosting completely hid the delightful lemony flavor of the sponge cake (and I’m a girl who loves her chocolate). If I were to try this again, I’d probably use a lemon flavor-friendly filling (raspberry, maybe), and maybe the caramel-soaked layer on top. The sponge wound up tasting flavorless after frosting, which is a shame, because the trimmings were quite tasty and surprisingly lemony from the one tablespoon of lemon juice.
for those concerned about the raw eggs in the filling and frosting: there is a recipe for dobos torte from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague that was part of a daring bakers challenge that doesn’t include raw eggs. See for example http://savorysweetlife.com/2009/08/daring-bakers-challenge-dobos-torte-recipe/
Perhaps the cooked-egg version originates in vienna and not hungary as joepastry theorizes in this post: http://www.joepastry.com/2011/what-is-dobos-torte/
Then again, he also speculates that the caramel topping is viennese in origin, not hungarian, yet I’ve been told by hungarians that the caramel topping is essential for a true dobos cake (and we’ve been so told in the comments…:)) I suppose it’s possible that the caramel topping migrated to hungary and became integrated in their dobos torte, while the local variations in cake and filling remained (???)
I made the Rick Rodgers version (before deb’s post went up), and it was terrific…(his sponge cake recipe is also a little different than meada heatter’s version). I’ve not tried the meada heatter so don’t have a comparison base.
and now I’ve located this, which claims to be a translation of the original recipe from József dobos:
well, if this website truly has the original recipe, the cooked egg yolk version is the authentic one
Got adventurous and went for 25 layers for my husband’s 25th birthday. I doubled the batch and managed 25 layers, but it was close. I was concerned that I’d have to reinforce the cake with something, but it’s definitely sturdy enough to stand on its own. I went with a bittersweet chocolate ganache instead of the traditional frosting, because I was a little wary of serving raw eggs to people. I subbed Grand Marnier for the lemon juice and I thought the end result was quite lovely. I baked it in 6 (and a quarter) batches in a 17.25X11.5X1 in. cookie sheet, which I then divided into fourths. I skipped the caramel layer because I ran out of batter, but it looked good with sprinkles. :)
Hey Deb I’ve been wondering about whether I could make the frosting with vanilla bean. Would this be advisable?
Hi Sasha — I don’t see why not. Personally, I find that the fresh vanilla bean flavor gets lost in chocolate icing so I don’t usually add it. But I am sure it could still be delicious.
Ah, one of the most beautiful cakes I’ve seen in a very long time. Growing up in the midwest, dobos torte was popular at many bakeries. Truly loved the photos, recipe and instructions. Thanks!
this recipe looks amazing and I want to make it for my boyfriends birthday, but wanted to try it with a chocolate cake instead. can you recommend a good way to do this to work with the recipe you posted?
I saw this and had to make it for my birthday. It was made on Saturday and eaten on Sunday and it was delicious! I wanted the challenge of making it and it was a bit trying at times! My frosting was 150g milk chocolate with the rest dark chocolate and it was perfect for my taste and everyone else who enjoyed the cake. Thanks for posting this recipe, I’m in the UK and had never heard of a Dobos torte. Here’s a photo of the one I made:
The original drummer on top of cake caramel sugar there is a coating :)
I’d like to make this for the “welcome back/get well soon” party we’re having for a collegue on Monday. I’ll have to make it Sunday afternoon/evening and then transfer it at work Monday morning (that means about 1 hour outside the fridge). Do you think it will be all good or should I go for another no-need-to-refrigerate cake? Also, if my fear of raw eggs wins me over, do you think it would be best to substitute for your instant fudge frosting or for one of the frostings proposed in comments 366-367? (I know, that second question is perhaps stupid, because you’ve already tried your instant fudge frosting but perhaps not the others, but still, I thought I should ask in case your instinct had an answer for me).
Thanks so so much :)
ps: totally irrelevant here but blueberry boy bait rules!!! It was the perfect way to celebrate another I’m-in-love-with-blueberries summer, and as for the boy, it worked like a charm ;)
Just about anything can survive for an hour outside a fridge (um, you do not want to know how long it takes me to unpack my groceries some days) as long as it’s not on, say, a picnic table in direct sunlight during a heatwave. Don’t be afraid of egg yolks — just get your eggs somewhere you trust.
This. was. a-mazing.
I didn’t know if everyone at work would be confortable with raw egg yolks, so I cooked them in a bain marie as proposed in one of the recipes given in comment 366. It worked just fine, but my buttercream turned out a lighter brown than yours. Next time I would melt the chocolate in a seperate bain marie and then mix with the eggs. Or I’ll just overcome my raw eggs fear!!!
It tasted soooo great, we loved it, I’m already thinking of the little piece I’m having for dessert tomorrow!
Definitely making this again, it was worth all the fuss, and frankly, the fuss was so much fun!
Thanks so much again, for the recipe(s) ;) and for answering so quickly to my previous comment.
Wow, I didn’t even know that Doboš torta was popular in the US. I’m from Serbia, and having Hungary as a neighbouring country made this cake very loved here. Its so popular that you can even buy the already baked layers of cake in any bakery, and than just add your filling :) But the caramelized top is a must!
SO good! It was just my Saturday challenge and it was a success with my family! Will make this again!
I made this today for my parent in-laws 45th wedding anniversary and in a word -WOW.
All in all, I thought it was quite a simple straight forward exercise – I only made 6 layers (2 half sheet trays) so it didnt take long at all – probably about 1.5 hours with two children underfoot.
I would never ever had attempted a cake like this before but your wonderful instructions and insistence that it wasnt that hard got me over the line.
As always, thanks so much for your beautiful and inspiring blog, Simone.
I’m from Hungary and as I was clicking through the website I was like, wow, dobos torta?! The caramellized top is a must indeed. I have a recipe from my grandma from the ’30s, I’ll try to dig it up and post it here asap if you’re interested!
I made it. Baked in full size(24″x19″) sheet pan. Mixing batter,baking,cooling, making filling and frosting and assembling took about an hour and a half, including cleanup.
Delicious cake and very impressive looking. A real winner.
Thank You for you recipe and method.
I’m going to try this tomorrow. Where can I get such a beautiful rectangular cake plate (I already skimmed and looked at your resources, didn’t find it), and can I/should I substitute your favorite yellow cake recipe for this one (looks easier)? Thanks, can’t wait to try it!
Andrea — It’s from Emily Henry and it comes in a whole bunch of different colors. Great value, especially if you make roll cakes as I always find it difficult to find the right dish for them.
Hi Deb, let me tell you that I’m really impressed about your Dobos torta. I am hungarian and I really like this cake,it reminds me of my childhood. Your cake is just perfect! Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe :)
I bookmarked this recipe a few weeks ago and ended up using it for my sister’s eleventh birthday cake. She only likes vanilla, though, so I used mascarpone whipped cream to frost it. Also, she is eleven, so to make it special I separated the batter (eleven dirty bowls and spoons; sorry mom!) and tinted it with purple to make an ombre effect. I’m pretty sure the lift of the layers suffered from being stirred so much but the ombre turned out beautifully and the cake was delicious!
Mmm… this is the cake I ask for every year for my Birthday! My Mom’s side is Hungarian so it’s a staple for us. My Grandma makes a cooked sugar topping which is my favourite part!!
I made this cake with a variant frosting based off your recipe (with white chocolate and green tea) and it tasted great! Though the frosting, when cooled, flaked off the cake when I attempted to cut it. I figured it probably was because the final coat was too thick, as I put too little between the layers… or maybe it was because of the chocolate substitution? Have you ever substituted white for semi or bittersweet before?
I made this last night and it took three hours. The trick was getting the layers cooked right in the over – I think the fact I whisked my eggs with two forks didn’t help the consistency of the batter. But it looked beautiful when cut. The other thing is using dark chocolate rather than milk. I used Green and Black’s 34% milk and it was tasty but a little buttery. Can’t wait to make it again!
Deb – Thanks so much for sharing this with the world! I knew at once that I MUST add this to my repertoire. What is the height of the finished torte (roughly)? I baked up some layers last night, but I only managed to get the batter into 3 quarter sheet pans because I was afraid that it would to too thin and I wouldn’t be able to spread the batter without flattening it. Then when I took everything out it just seemed like I had done something wrong because everything was so thin and I knew the 9 layers would be a really short cake. I realized I had forgotten to put the salt in, so I chucked all my hard work into the trash. But after some internet research on salt in baking and other dobos torte recipes, I fear that I may do it all again tonight and get the same results. (I promised a cake for a charity dessert auction I’m holding at work, and I want it to be spectacular!)
Just finding you for the first time via the NY Times….I’m so incredibly happy about finding your blog…this cake is simply WONDERFUL. Reminds me of a cake I had growing up visiting my Oma in Berlin. Happy fuzzy memory on this Christmas evening.
Happy finding your blog, made the cake with stars not as beautiful like you, and put the initial with edible pearl candy. Thank for sharing, wish you and your familly a health, happy new year.
Nice website ! One more to makethings in the kitchen more easy.
I made a layered biscuit-cake with whipped cream, Mandarine liquor, citrus jam and clementines in between : realy nice, but i will try this one also. thanks from Belgium
I’d like to make a version of this for my son’s 21st birthday, but in order to make it a 21 layer cake, I’m thinking 7 layers each of cake, ice cream and crushed candy. Since it will include ice cream and has to be kept frozen, I’m concerned about the frosting and the overall quality of the cake. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!
I made this cake a couple of days ago for a coworker’s birthday. It went over splendidly! Thanks for the recipe!
OMG , I SAW YOUR INDIAN DISHES, AND THEY ARE AWESOME.. YEAH , I AM INDIAN .. AND I KNOW HOW IT SHOULD LOOK LIKE.. EKKKING GOOD COOK YOU ARE.. I AM IN NYC AND I KNOW HOW TINY KITCHEN ARE IN HERE!!!!!! GREAT WORK!
It says in the ingredients for the cake 1/8 tsp salt, but I don’t see when to put it in the directions. Should it have the salt or is that a typo? it’s my first go at a cake like this, and I’m in the middle of it… eeeeeek!
Hi! I am from Hungary (yes, this is a country in Europe..). The real dobos torte is a hungarian recipe, and it is a bit different, than yours!This cake its a real hungaricum, from Dobos C. Jozsef, he made it first in 1884 at a bakery in the capital of Hungary, Budapest. One of the first people who eat from it it was Queen Elisabeth (also known as Sissy). He was the first who invented the butter-cream with chocolate, because before they used only cooked with cream. The real recipe has on the top ot the last layer sugar-caramel.
Sorry for my bad english, but is hope you can understand what i wrote :)
I just made this in February in my 67-degree home and had two issues: first, the caramel layer was impossible to cut into pretty shapes – it just stuck to the cookie cutters and made them too hot to handle. Then, the icing completely solidified during the two minutes between mixing it up and moving to the table for assembly. Rather than have a tantrum and start over (which would have involved a trip to the store), I ended up softening/melting it on a double boiler, and all the fluff from beating disappeared but at least it was spreadable. Here’s hoping we don’t get food poisoning from those yolks…
Hey, Deb! I’m thinking about making this cake tonight for my brother’s birthday party tomorrow, and I am toying with the idea of making a marmalade cream (just some orange marmalade folded into whipped cream) and alternating filling layers between the buttercream and the marmalade cream for the filling. Or maybe just all the cream filling and just the buttercream on the outside. Anyway, do you think that the cream would be a good addition to this cake and would the thin layers get soggy from the cream if it sits in the fridge for 18 hours before cutting into it? I just really want to use my homemade marmalade but it’s very wet so using it on its own would definitely make the cake soggy. Thanks for your input!
I’m loath to use whipped cream as cake fillings because it will collapse and the cream will absorb; you can set whipped cream with gelatin or other things (there are a slew of tricks if you google about) but it’s just not very sturdy. You could heat and slightly strain your marmalade (so it’s less wet) and use it straight.
To me the drum cake one of the three most beautiful. This is a cake from my childhood.
I copied you and made this cake for my birthday. I used a 9 inch square cake pan and cut them in half. I got 9 layers. It would have been 10, but one part of one of the layers had a bit of egg white I hadn’t quite incorporated enough into the batter, so it had to be thrown out. It didn’t matter. This cake was wonderful. I was so proud of myself, everyone who wasn’t around to taste the cake had to endure looking at pictures of it!
I can’t wait to see what you make for yourself this year – and what I’m going to make!
This by far is one of my favourite cakes. Thank you for introducing me to it! I’ve made it several times. I had to make it more than once because the first cake disappeared so quickly that I never tasted it. I’ve been assured by my boyfriend that I can make it as often as I like and there will no objections. Lovely cake, lovely photographs. cheers.
Hi Deb! Do you think this chocolate frosting would work as a filling for peanut butter sandwich cookies? I’m looking for something that falls between a ganache and a buttercream – super chocolatey, not too firm, but not too runny. Any ideas?
Unreal. Made this cake for my housewarming brunch today (doubled the recipe-barely had a bowl big enough to fold all the egg whites in!) and it is incredible. Completely changes my understanding of layer cake from something dry, too sweet and probably a week old to something light and spongy and bittersweet. A total hit. Thank you!
I have learned to make a version of the Dobos from my grandmother. She would make it for my birthday every year until I turned 21. Her recipe makes the round style and the layers are thin like crepes. She beats the egg whites and sugar separately from the rest of the batter and then folds the two together so the batter is really thick and fluffy. Then she spreads it thinly onto the bottom of an overturned round pan (yes… on the outside of the pan) and bakes the layers, two at a time until she has about 25-30 crepe-like rounds of awesomeness. She saves one for the candy top and pastes the rest together with rich chocolate frosting you describe in your recipe. Her largest cake was a whopping 22 layers… for my 21st birthday (and an extra layer for luck). I have re-created this masterpiece (with her guidance) three times in the last decade. It does take 5 hours to make but it’s SO worth it! I love to eat it freezing cold from the fridge with a glass of milk. Thanks for reminding me it’s about time I make it again!
Like you, Deb, I always look at my birthday as an opportunity to make the most absurdly elaborate cake possible. I think this one might be this year’s winner. However, I’m thinking I might cut this into, shall we say, Dobos cupcakes, little 1.5×2-inch petit-fours, because we’re celebrating at a bar, and bars are not the best place to try to cut and serve layer cakes – a lesson I learned the hard way. Also because I love making more work for myself. Do you think the (six, not twelve) stacked layers would hold together well enough to cut into little rectangles (and then I’d frost the sides), or will I need to stack each cake individually?
Oh, what a great idea! The cake is very sliceable (especially from the fridge) no matter how you make it so I wouldn’t worry about cutting it into your size of choice. I think everyone will go nuts for it.
At what point is the 1/8 tspn salt added in making the cake
Hi. i just came across a bakery in illinois that sold dobos torte… the traditional ones with actual caramel and chocolate buttercream instead of your version, which is actually more of a seven sister’s cake found usually in midwest. both are yummy though. :)
Deb, I am attending a wedding celebration this weekend, which will have multiple cakes made by multiple guests/bakers. I am honored to be one of those asked to bake for the celebration. I’ve decided this torte will be perfect; however, in deciding just how many layers I’d like to make…I’d appreciate some estimate of the number of servings I should expect from the 6 layer, 4 x 8 1/2 version. Thanks for your time! And as always, the amazing recipes.
It’s really hard to say. Mine was a 12-layer 4×8-inch cake, which I think was sliced into slim 1/2-inch thick slices, so 16 of them. It was tall, however. With a shorter cake, 1/2-inch thick slices might seem skimpier. But at a table full of desserts, it may not matter if the serving sizes are small.
Deb, I really appreciate your quick and helpful response! I’ll let you know how it goes.
This is my first comment on your blog even though I’ve been a loyal follower for a while! Exciting haha :)
Anyways, my question is: do you think that the dobos torte would work well with a raspberry preserves filling and a whipped bittersweet frosting (what you used in: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/05/almond-raspberry-layer-cake/) or is the original perfect?
Esther — I think it could work with preserves but, personally, wouldn’t be into it because I find the intensity and sweetness of preserves to be too much in this dosage. No reason not to use the whipped bittersweet.
I was so excited to use this recipe and did everything as per the steps then realised…
Was I supposed to put 3 half cups of sugar in? Or 3 and a half cups? I did the latter and well…. it was a waste of 10 eggs to say the least :(
Maybe if it was me who made the mistakes, to make your recipe a little clearer?? I don’t want what happened to me happen to anyone else!
Thank you, Deb, for this delicious cake. I tried it and because of your thorough instructions it came out perfectly. I am going to make it for a fund raising for the construction of a new Christian Orthodox church in Seattle. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Fantastic! Even impressed my friend’s Austrian parents. Easy peasy if you make a cube by baking on silpats on 2 jelly roll pans and cutting each into 6 pieces after; though you won’t have enough chocolate for all 12 layers, it leaves a few extra pieces for mess-ups (like where I dipped the corner of the hotpad into one layer when reversing the pans in the oven)
Dear, I am also impressed you baked this cake. I am also Hungarian, and love your site. i have just discovered this recipe. You are awesome to have come as far as Dobos torta. Cheers! :-)
Well then. It’s not just me. I have a habit of making croissants in my UN-air-conditioned house in Tucson, AZ, but only when the ambient temp of my kitchen exceeds 95 degrees. I’ve learned to favor speed over form. Mellllting butter!
Dobos has been on “the list” for a while now…
Hi Deb –
I’ve made this three times already and I’ve always used quarter sheet pans with parchment paper. Well, I thought this time around I might try using a jelly roll pan and a silpat. I thought I could just make two of them, cut them each into six pieces and bam, I’d have a twelve-layer cake! But oh man, did the cake stick to the silpat or what!? I had to throw the entire first batch out.
I know they say “nothing sticks to silpats” but am I wrong? I noticed another baker named Bear used a silpat and it sound like it worked perfectly.
Needless to say, I went back to using parchment, but I really think I’d like to try the silpat again. Any advice?
Love you site. I’ve been a fan forever and I’m so happy for you that you have a book!
Sara — Oh no! I think maybe the problem (and I’m grasping at straws here, but maybe it will help) is simply how thin and almost sticky the cake is. It just seems that if it were prone to sticking to parchment, a thin paper (which weighs a couple grams) would be easier to remove than to separate it from something that’s an equal or probably greater weight like Silpat.
I reeeeally prefer parchment paper to Silpats because with the paper, you end up with all of the benefits of a heavy metal baking pan pressed right against the baked good (better edges, better color, good heat distribution) but none of the stickiness.
My Hungarian grandmother used to make this cake for every birthday and Christmas. I was unable to find her recipe but came across this one last year and it tastes exactly the same. It is the second Christmas I have been making this dobos recipe and every part of it reminds me of my grandmother and brings back such lovely memories. Thanks for sharing this beautiful recipe!
i made this AWESOME cake for a friend (that does not bake) for a christmas gift and she took it to her work party and it got RAVES!! so I made another for my husbands birthday cake and there was nothing left of it! I WILL definately make this again and again it was soooo EASY!
P.S. I didn’t use the caramel decorations they were not easy to make
I just made this for my husband (he requested a dobos torte for Valentine’s Day), and it turned out *beautifully*! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!
Dear Smitten Kitchen,
I just subscribed to your site, although I’ve tried a few of your recipes in the past (very successfully, I must add)! Quick comment/question: I live in Maryland, and there is a small community that settled long ago, named Smith Island, where the inhabitants are all still related, and the children are water-taxied to school each day. Three elderly women on the Island were recently honored with having their cakes named as ‘Maryland’s Official Cake’ – titled, Smith Island Cake – I believe it is 12 layers, very thin, with frosting between all and then frosted on top and sides, similar to the cake listed here. Their original flavor is yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting, yet they have branched out and now make several flavors including lemon, coconut and orange. I am wondering if the Smith Island Cake is a derivative of the original recipe from Hungary that you mention – looks so similar! Thanks so much – oh – one more question (I promise)! While running a Google search for passover desserts, your site came right up (I had no idea to check here first!) Anyhow, I am currently – this evening – making your flour-less ‘Lighter than Air Chocolate Cake’ recipe that you’ve posted and would like to know if I can freeze the layers for 2 days and then defrost, yet while still firm, add the filling – unfortunately, I realize by the time you read this the cake will be long gone (if it even makes it out of house, to share with relatives)! Thanks much for your baking expertise and stories, Ellie Mecier
Ellie — I have seen the Smith Island cake and definitely think it relates to this. I have no frozen that cake but in the comments, a few people mention doing so with success.
all I can say is – wow. and you’ve out-done yourself (didn’t think it was possible)
Do you know if there is a variation of a dobos torte that has almonds in the frosting? My grandma’s cook used to make something called dobos tart that had a really delicious almonds-and-chocolate frosting… trying to figure out how to recreate this food memory from my childhood.
I’m from Hungary, and i find a new hungarian article about Dobos torta, that links this page as a famous international gastroblog. If you intrested in it, perhaps can understand with google translater:
Wish you will share some other fantastic hungarian desserts with your readers, like Eszterházy torta, madártej, or somlói galuska.
Greetings from Budapest
Rosh Hashana would not be the same without your Mom’s Apple Cake and noe the Dobos Torte! Both came out great.
Hi Deb! Just echoing the others regarding “when to add the salt” question. I will be making this for my birthday this weekend and want to make sure I don’t screw it up! Ha! Thanks!
Should be with the flour, oops. Now fixed. Thanks.
Deb, a big thank you for this recipe (and for your blog). Has given me countless hours of reading pleasure, and every recipe I have tried (a rather long list) has been a winner. I made this today, and used a simple chocolate ganache – being slightly wary of raw yolks. I used some really good chocolate and it made up for the less-than-smooth texture of the ganache I produced. The layers smelt really eggy while baking, and they were browning too quickly at the high temperature. I did panic a bit, but reducing the temperature and increasing the baking time helped. The layering was tremendous fun – and while my end result looked nowhere as beautiful as yours, I had a great time making (and eating this) so thanks again for making the world a better place with your recipes!
Hi Deb! I love your site. I’m planning on making this cake (in the shape of a #1 for my nephew’s bday) and I have one quick question-
How do you make sure once the cake is cut that all the layers look so neat? Is it important not to put too much frosting in between the layers so it doesn’t smoosh out?
I saw another blog entry of someone who made this, and once it was cut into…it just looked a mess…not gorgeously neat like yours!
Evie19 — I usually keep the cake in the fridge until needed, or an hour or so before, so mushy frosting isn’t an issue. I tend to make cakes the day before I need them. Nevertheless, the frosting here isn’t so thick that it should be a huge issue, I didn’t think.
I’ve always wanted to try baking my namesake cake. This has convinced its not as daunting as the recipe seem!
I know this is an older recipe, but I’m hoping you’ll still respond. Do you know the quantity of frosting you end up with using this recipe? I can’t use raw egg yolks for the group I’m making this for, so I’m planning to do a ganache. I just need to know how much to make… I’m sure I could figure it out, but if you know, that’d be helpful too. Thanks! :)
Hi Sydney — Sorry, I didn’t jot it down.
I live quite far from a market, very important part of this equation. Getting my mise en place together I found I am out of lemons. Do I just have to close the recipe for another day? I just came across it over night and was so excited. I haven’t made one in years and its one of y husband’s favorites.
tina — You’ll be okay. It’s just a little bit of extra flavor.
I made this cake yesterday, to rave reviews from my guests.
I myself liked the combination of the caramel and the cake more than the cake itself… A lot or work, but a good recipe.
I made this at my brother’s request and it was delicious… you inspire me to make things I would never try (for example, my other brother’s 3 tier wedding cake!) Thanks!
Made this for one of my three (!) birthday cakes– I was prepared for it to be a little challenging, but it pulled together in no time at all and was so flashy and tasty that people reached OVER the triple-layer carrot cake to get at it! Didn’t make the caramel topping because I was too lazy to wash my preferred skillet, but with a heaping pile of unsweetened whipped cream and a scattering of raspberries, it became the prettiest dessert I’ve ever served a a party, and almost the easiest. Thank you so much for the recipe!
Made this today…took 2 hours. No problem. Decided to use whipped ganache instead of the frosting (didn’t like the idea of raw eggs, sorry) and it was delish. Much easier than one might have thought. Thanks for sharing.
Hello, so i’ll be competing in a torte category for a club at my high school. Im 17 and i love baking. I want to make this as a 6 or 7 layer 8 in round torte. i have two 8 in rounds to work with. You recommend cutting out my 8in parchment circles, and then buttering and flouring my pans and putting in my batter? Then when cooling, but them on to cooling racks that have been dusted with powdered sugar? That part was confusing. I would reaally appreciate if you answered this, thanks :)
Hi Leslie — You do not need cake pans, or to be limited by the number that you have. Cake pans are just one option. From the recipe, here’s how to just use sheets of parchment paper on a baking sheet, instead of a cake pan:
If using sheets of parchment paper, cut each larger than needed for the cake shape and size. Stencil your cake shape on one side of the sheet, then flip it over and butter and flour the shape area on the reverse side… Spread your batter in prepared pans or within their stenciled shapes on parchment paper… etc.
So, you could trace 6 or 7 8-inch rounds onto parchment and use one for each layer.
I suggest lightly powdering the cooling rack because the cake is a bit sticky and thin and fragile, so I don’t want it to get glued onto the cooling rack when you reverse the cake layer onto it to peel off the backing. You’ll see what I mean.
Good luck! I bet you’ll win. :)
Oh my goodness…just made this and somehow everything seemed off…but I was almost a dozen eggs in so I forged ahead. My cake layers took forever to bake and then they puffed and fell, and were the heavy, sticky texture of lemon bars. I frosted them anyway, and I decided to read the recipe once more before bed. Well, turns out I missed that little detail about the sugar being powdered, not granulated! Argh. Well, it looks pretty and we will eat it tomorrow, and just hope our fillings don’t ache too much from the sweetness and chew. Sigh. Guess I’ll have to make it again someday…thanks, as always, for the inspiration.
Brings back very fond memories of Illona Karmel, one of my writing teachers in college. At the end of the term, she would always make a dobos torte to reward the students. Now I have to read and digest the recipe/comments so that I can make and digest the cake.
She’s gone now, but the memories aren’t, and I’m glad the cake doesn’t have to be.
I’m trying to make this with 22 layers for a 22nd birthday- do you think that it would work to double the recipe (and make twice as many layers) using the proportions you used for your 11 layer cake, or would you recommend using just one batch and trying to make them half as thick? My concern with option 1 is that it will be too tall, and my concern with option 2 is that thinner layers will not turn out as well texture-wise… any thoughts?
My alternative would be 22 layers that are larger so as to keep the dimensions more aesthetically pleasing (maybe 4.25 by 12), but that means tripling the recipe and that would be 39 eggs which is just outlandish. And maybe, dare I say it, a little too over the top.
Inga — Double it. I don’t recommend trying to make the layers thinner. I mean, you can try for very slightly thinner, but you don’t want to deal with it browning in spots too soon; I don’t think you could pull off half-thickness otherwise. Mine wasn’t terribly tall, despite the 11 layers.
This probably doesn’t make too much of a difference, but do you use the paddle attachment for the cake and frosting, or the whisk for all of it?
Just made the cake for son’s 50th and grandson’s 15th birthday celebration. Was a huge success. As always, your recipe was so detailed that I felt confident all the way through the process. Thank you!
As someone who enjoyed this cake from Fischl’s bakery in New Jersey in the 1960’s (ahem, not the 80’s like you) I’m wondering if you have any suggestion for replicating the lighter colored filling that was between the layers in that cake. Thank you.
caro — I might use a light mocha buttercream — a basic buttercream (butter/sugar) with a little cocoa powder and espresso powder beaten in.
How did you make the stars on top? Is that just a bit of puffed pastry?
I describe the process in the “Caramel Topping” step at the end. I used a star-shaped cookie cutter.
You mean more awesome (though awesome is a dreadful word). There is no such word as awesomer. Tut tut.
if you’ve made this “patchke” of a cake, you should look into making wafer cake- a riff on a seven layer- just with thin as air layers and as tall as a petit four with chocolate frosting and glaze. we make them for the sukkot holiday and I’ve just lost the page in my cookbook that has it! otherwise i’d share it here
Deb, I have a question with this cake – is there something specific about the batter in this cake that you can use the approach of just using a cookie sheet to cook a super big layer of cake and then cut it up; or would it work with other batters? I’m thinking of using this technique for other cakes but kinda afraid it will be a disaster – what do you think? thanks so much.
Anne — This is sturdier than other cakes, not exactly a cookie, but a thin firm-ish cake so it takes well to slicing and stacking. Some layer cakes will also, but not all will make it so easy.
ok – thanks very much. I think I might just use this base and tweak it a little each time, until I see how much I can stretch the approach. I have to confess that I never make a layered caked if I have to bake two things, I’m too lazy. So if it’s not cutting something bigger I’m not making it (which kinda limits me to two layers, mostly). So this cake and batter might solve all my problems :)))
I don’t know what I did wrong! Followed to the “T” , but very little frosting and had to make extra batch, that was only 4 layers. Used a sheet pan and divided into fourths, I don’t know how I could have gotten any more layers short of doing the recipe twice. Looks good so far, after I make another batch of frosting. My birthday cake! Hope it brings back memories of the 60s.
Eugenia — What size sheet pan did you have?
My uncle wants me to make this cake for him…but he wants the cake to be chocolate as well. Can you suggest how to adapt the recipe?
I made this for Christmas dessert and it was fantastic. It truly took me right back to my youth when I could get amazing Dobos Torte at a Hungarian bakery down the street. It took 3.5 hours to make but well worth it!!! Thanks.
I made this cake today for my dad’s birthday. When he requested dobos torte for his cake, I immediately decided to use this recipe, because it provides instructions for the rectangular cake we are familiar with and because SK recipes are always so perfect. The parts I thought would be tricky (moving around such thin cake layers, cutting molten caramel with a metal cookie cutter and my bare hands, etc.) weren’t at all. I baked in 2 quarter sheet pans and one half sheet and divided the layers into rectangles using a pizza cutter. I didn’t invert the cakes to cool but slid them from the pans on their parchment liners so I could be lazy and avoid the sugar dusting. Like Libby at #313, I ran out of frosting. I made another 1/3 batch and covered the cake…but then when we cut and ate it it seemed too heavy on the frosting, so next time I will try harder to make the single batch work as written. A question for anyone reading this: is there a version of dobos torte with an almond filling? Dad remembers the bakery of his youth using one, but I couldn’t find a recipe or reference anywhere. He did love this one, though, and is regretting not asking for it on previous birthdays!
This cake was AMAZING! Thank you for a fantastic recipe… 3.5 hours to make but worth every minute.
Hi Deb – I’m thinking about making this for my boss, but I wondered if it were possible to convert the cake layers into a chocolate cake. Would subbing out 1/4 cup of flour for cocoa work, you think? Worse comes to worse I’ll make it as-is, but she’s a chocoholic, so I thought she’d appreciate it. :)
Funny, I wanted to make a chocolate version of this last summer but never got it tested out. I think my plan was a 1/3 swap of the flour with a good dark cocoa, which sounds like what you’re thinking about too. Would love to hear how it goes!
I did it Deb! With your recipe and positive approach, I did a 10 layer 12×17 Dobos for my sister in laws birthday bash. It was a-maz-ing! Everyone was totally impressed. Your recipe made the whole process easy and the end result was a show stopper. Most fun I’ve had baking this year. Thank you!
Hi Deb – checking back in! I made the chocolate dobos, and…eh. I think the texture of the cake is so delicate and the layers so thin that it really isn’t improved much by making it chocolate, which by nature is a “loud” flavor. It got lost in the frosting, so it was just like a giant block of chocolate. (I ended up making the instant fudge frosting, as I am very very pregnant and while I don’t always play by the “rules” of “safe eating” while pregnant, I was uncomfortable with the raw egg yolks. Someday!!) I think you need the vanilla flavor to keep the flavors from blending in to one another and becoming a muddle. Perhaps inverting everything and making the frosting vanilla would do it. But that said, I’m not sure the experiment really improved on anything, although it was successful in that the layers were chocolate and they baked up just fine. But those consuming it still enjoyed it, so that’s all that matters!
Emily — Here where I realize I’m so terrible because I forgot to mention that in my imagined chocolate version, it would be reversed, like an Oreo, i.e. a vanilla frosting and filling. I wanted to call it a Debos Torte; I’m terrible like that and I’d planned it for my son’s 5th birthday but ended up taking a more simple route. Anyway, long story short: do you think with a vanilla frosting and filling you might have liked it more? And thanks so much for the feedback.
The chocolate of the cake layers was a very delicate chocolate. I’m a fan of the really deep, dark stuff, myself, but was nervous about messing too much with the original recipe, lest it lose its structural integrity. (and you know, waste 10 eggs) But I wonder if there could be a way of folding in melted unsweetened chocolate rather than using cocoa powder that would give it more oomph. If you could do that, then I do think it would pair well with a nice vanilla bean frosting. Something smooth and creamy. Mmmmm. Dammit, I want to bake again. (after making this and ATK’s triple chocolate mousse cake all in one day, however, I’m slightly tapped out!)
You write so engagingly. Thanks so much for this recipe. I made this yesterday for a family dinner tonight and just thought I’d let you know that I used the large 12 x 17 pan and baked it in a single layer. The pan still was not big enough and resulted in a much thicker layer than hoped for. I think I should have split the batter between the 12 x 17 and a half sheet, or maybe even stretched it really thin and used two 12 x 17. What do you think is the ideal depth for this batter once in the pan? Also, because my batter was thicker it needed much more than the 5 minutes to bake, closer to 12. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that it wasn’t done and inverted it, only to discover the underneath was still raw. I managed to flip it back into the pan (with only minor damage to the integrity of the cake) and baked it longer. My mistake for not checking it properly when I first took it out. I ended up with only four long layers (about 4 x 10), but it still looks good. I tasted the trimmings and they are delicious. The icing really is smooth and deeply chocolate. Thanks again!
Oooh, this was fun to make! It looked too divine not to make it even if it is three days past my 35th! I will say my version looks a bit sloppy – while I’m fairly certain I got the batter spread evenly in my 1/2 sheet pans, I could only bake one at a time and they cooked unevenly, resulting in a fair amount of tear and squishing when I went to cool the layers. Because of that, I was afraid to trim and cause any additional damage to the layers, so I have a somewhat lopsided and uneven (mainly on the sides) dobos torte. It certainly looks homemade! Just hoping that adds to the charm when we slice ‘er open in a few hours…
My husband asked me to make a small cake for his colleague’s 40th birthday. I baked the sponge earlier in the week and froze it, then made the filling/frosting and the caramel layer, and assembled it (in half size) before I left for work on Friday morning.
I was very proud to send it off with Hubby, loved my sneak preview tastes, and I felt like a rock-star! Definitely agree – the most fun baking I’ve had in a long time :-) Thanks Deb, for recipes I can rock with confidence!!!
I made this cake recently, and some things worked well and others didn’t. The cake layers turned out great. I divided the batter between 2 12×17 inch pans and the thickness was perfect – I think the cake layers would be far too thick in one 12×17 pan. The cake layers tasted great but were on the sweet side – I wonder if the sugar could be cut down just a touch, but am not sure how that would affect the cake texture. I was also considering setting aside 1/4 cup of the sugar to add when whipping the egg whites next time – I always feel more confident whipping egg whites when there’s sugar in there. Seems to be easier to not over-beat.
To my surprise, the frosting completely didn’t work for me. I added the cooled chocolate to the egg/yolk mixture, and got a smooth, glossy frosting. I turned around for a few minutes and when I came back to the mixing bowl, the frosting had hardened into an unspreadable chunky mess. I think the chocolate must have seized? I didn’t have enough ingredients to try something else so I wrapped a heating pad around the bowl and mixed by hand until it became reasonably smooth, but it didn’t get perfect. I used a semisweet chocolate I like (scharffen berger) and felt the frosting was barely chocolatey – probably need bittersweet.
Finally, I filled every other cake layer with raspberry cake filling (raspberries + sugar + water cooked down, strained to remove seeds, add cornstarch and heat till thick), which turned out DELICIOUS. Next time I make this cake, I will fill it entirely with the raspberry filling and frost just the outside of the cake with chocolate ganache or something similar. Raspberry dobos torte? Not traditional but sooo good.
The exact same issue with the frosting happened to me! There’s one previous comment that mentions it too– the frosting hardening up way too quickly to be able to fill and frost the cake. I am wondering if it has to do with the air temperature? My kitchen was pretty cold, and Deb made this in a super warm environment. I also wondered if it is possible to overbeat the frosting at any point? I wasn’t sure how long to go on the mixer.
At any rate, I ended up splashing in a teeny bit of milk and stirring like mad two different times during my layering process in order to get the frosting onto the cake. It did loosen it but only temporarily. The final outer coat was very difficult since the thick hard frosting wanted to rip the sides and corners. Not as fun as I had been anticipating!
Deb, any thoughts on why this might happen and how to avoid?
I had a lot of trouble with the caramel. It doesn’t say what temperature to swirl it at but I figured out eventually that high heat was likely it. I couldn’t cut it after pouring without taking the caramel with me even though I’d buttered my knife. There’s something I’m missing here. I ended up just eating the top layer and pretending it never happened. It was quite delicious.
Inspired by this story I set out to make this cake today, which happens to be my birthday. I divided the batter into 2 half sheet pans and it seemed like there was plenty. It was more than 1/4 inch deep. I baked as directed until golden brown, flipped it onto powdered sugar covered cooling races and then inverted onto similarly coated cooling racks. The (now) top would not release at all. I wish I had put parchment down on the rack. I won’t be trying this again.
P.S. I LOVE the blog. Have made numerous of your recipes. This is the first that failed. I’m through with Dobos Torte but not with Smitten Kitchen.
Maia — Ugh, I wish I’d seen this sooner. Sometimes it can help to pop the whole stuck thing into the freezer. Once frozen, easier to pry off (it hasn’t happened to me with this cake, but certainly others!) without breaking the cake.
Just stumbled across this today and noticed that it was published on my brother’s birthday five years ago! My grandmother (whom we called Nagymama) used Dobos Torta (yes, we pronounce it with an A at the end) as her take-no-prisoners-pull-out-all-the-stops dessert at any and all special occasions and family gatherings, which of course included many of my brother’s birthdays. Her Dobos Tortas were legendary: auctioned-off-at-church-fundraisers-legendary. She died in ’08 without leaving a recipe for any of us ambitious enough to try, so I am thrilled to find one here – thank you! Or as they’d say in Budapest, köszi szépen!
Ok so second time I made this and I had trouble with the caramel layer again. I’ve figure out that 2 TB of water and 1/2 cup of sugar are just about right, then blast it with the highest heat my stove has. Works great but I can’t get an even coating or clean breaks on the shapes. It cools too fast and sticks to a buttered knife…
Btw, I got 9 even layers, the recipe is very well written so it is easy to make the cake part. Didn’t bother with the flipping part, just left them on their individual parchments to cool. So long the butter-flouring process is done well, no sticking.
Do you really use confectioners sugar instead of regular sugar?
I grew up in New Orleans and we know this as Doberge Cake. It’s a decadent cake usually served for birthdays and christenings, etc…
I tested this out this weekend, attempting to use the 12×17 inch pan and there was just way too much cake batter for that size. It puffed up and flowed over the edges of the pan and even though I baked it for an extra 5 minutes, it ended up brown on the top, and liquid in the center. On my second attempt I halved the cake recipe and spread it much more thinly in the 12×17 inch pan, it didn’t cover the whole sheet but was about 11×14. This one came out much better, I still had to bake it for 8 minutes, but I think that’s due to higher elevation (4,300 ft) which is always tricky to adjust for.
That being said, this is an awesome cake. Nothing like I’ve ever made before and I will definitely be making it again, attempting perfection next time!
This is super helpful, thank you.
I wish more people would comment about their high altitude baking experiences.
I am at 5280′ elevation. I am on the fence weather to try this.
The first time I tasted/saw a Dobos Torte was as a teen, babysitting Mrs. Getzy’s children during the holidays. She casually mentioned to help myself to some cake. Wow! Until then I thought cakes were 2-3 layers with fluffy milk chocolate frosting…I have been in love with Dobos Torte ever since. Made sure to try some when we visited Hungary. I think I’m going to try my hand at this recipe! Thanks for publishing.
Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake…and ice cream!
Happy Birthday to you! Thank you for sharing your wonderful sense of humor and your delicious recipes.
I was thinking of making another Smith Island cake for my daughter’s birthday this month, but it really is bigger than we will need, so your Dobostorte recipe came at a perfect time. But sssh , don’t tell people how easy it is to create all of those layers…let that be our little secret.
What other icing could you use if you didn’t want to use the eggs?
Just a straight butter cream?
A buttercream or a ganache, depending on the intensity/thickness you want.
At last a dobos recipe I can follow – thank you so much. I’ve also wanted to make this cake as it is similar to the Bavarian Prinzregententorte – the layers representing the counties within Bavaria.
Thank you again, and happy baking, and happy birthday,
Joanna in Bavaria
Wow. I just made this swapping out 1.5 cups of sugar for ground almonds. Might even up it to 2 cups next time. So delicious. And impressive. Thank you!
This being a sponge cake, should the eggs be cold or room temperature for the cake batter?
Theoretically room temperature but I never bother warming them up.
I love this recipe. I made a dobos torte years and years ago in school but was looking for a good recipe that made one cake (not ten), without having to do the conversions. Perfect base recipe. The buttercream is to live for! I love playing with the flavours. <3
This is rather different from the original Hungarian recipe and most of its variations (in which the batter has more flour and the filling is egg-based). But it is one of the most superb cakes I’ve ever tasted. I make it once or perhaps twice a year and it takes three hours or so, especially if I make a round cake. Totally worth it, though. The layers are very sweet and melt in your mouth soft, with the slightest touch of chewiness, and are divinely complemented by the almost too bitter frosting (if you use dark chocolate). It’s a very grown up cake.
Most important tip: make sure you spread the batter really evenly before baking, so that you don’t get dark spots where parts of the layers bake too early. Also, the caramel shapes are pretty, but I usually go for the more traditional full upper layer of caramel, carefully pre-cut, simply because it’s so delicious and adds such fabulous textural contrast.
I just got back from 2 months of Eastern European travel. I was excited to make Dobos Torte for my family, as it was one of my favorite cakes I tried during my travels.
This is the fanciest cake I’ve ever attempted. Both the sponge cake and the buttercream techniques were new to me.
I was unsure if my eggs truly reached stiff peaks, and my cake did take about 8 minutes in the oven (11 x 17″), so I was quite nervous.
I was so pleased when not only was the cake beautiful, it was better than most (if not all) of the Dobos Tortes I tried in Hungary! It was certainly more moist, -and that buttercream? Fantastic.
Thank you, Deb.
PS- I’m going to go comment on the other recipes I made yesterday too!
I have been reading Smitten Kitchen for a long time, made many of the recipies, have told a multitude of friends about this website, and this is the first time I have asked a question, and this first one is a simple one. If cut thin, how many servings can you expect to get from this cake? A slightly less simple question, have you ever brushed the layers with a bit of a liqueur and had good results? Thanks so much for the years of reading.
I just made this for my dad’s birthday. I brushed every-other layer with amaretto, and next time would use it on every layer. The dark chocolate overpowered. We ended up pouring amaretto straight on the slices. Delicious!
Deb, I ran out of frosting! I made 12 4×8 layers as you did and tried to be stingy with my frosting between layers but ran out. So I stopped at 8 layers of cake, and got the sides covered with every last bit of the frosting. I turned out delicious, very good balance of sweet and bittersweet chocolate flavors. When we looked at the layers on the slices, the cake layers and frosting layers were about even in thickness.
Also, its no joke that those layers will stick to everything and are fragile. I found I got the best no-stick barrier if I sprinkled powdered sugar directly on the cake while still in the pan, then flipped onto my cooling rack, waited a minute while peeling the parchment, and then flipped onto a bigger cookie sheet dusted with powdered sugar to cool fully.
I am so excited to make this. Can someone answer my question – if made Deb’s way – 12 layer 4×8 inch cake – how tall would the finished cake would be? I am trying to see how I would carry it safely.
I just ready your lovely post about your dad. I get your posts as emails at work and I usually take a quick look to see if its something I’m interested in, and then either check it out or move on to a work-related task. Your post today stopped me short. I am so sorry. I did read about your dad saying you made the best 7-layer cake, and since I hadn’t heard that term since my childhood, I looked up your recipe for dobos torte. You describe a 7-layer cake exactly like the one I grew up with, and I wonder if the New Jersey strip mall bakery is the one we went to in Orange, New Jersey in the 1960’s. It was called the Stratford Bake Shop, and it was owned by a couple named Gretta and Karl (I can’t remember their last name, but I do remember that they were Holocaust survivors). Is this the bakery you referred to in your post? It was a wonderful place! I don’t mean to bother you at this sad time, but I thought that it might remind you of a good memory and that you might want to respond.
Do you use pasteurized eggs for the frosting?
I made this on Father’s Day while the boys played golf. Loved it, but if you make it in an 11 by 17 pan it will not be done in 5 minutes or 7 minutes. The square inch factor is the problem. One 11 by 17 vs. 4 nine by 12. My fault . I was too intent on the pan prep.
That being said, it was a hit as all your recipes are. I believe the pumpkin bead is genius! And the broccoli salad.
Hi, I know you made this a while ago but I love to see that you made it! My mother is Hungarian & she’s a baker so I grew up with ‘dobos’ cake. It was & still is her most popular selling cake. I’ve always been too intimidated to make it as hers has 10 layers that are even thinner but you’ve inspired me to at least try. I will embark on this journey this week! LOL
Hi, Deb, I think you’ve been plagiarized – Read after the interview.
Just wanted to give you a heads up because I’ve been a fan for years. :)
This cake is so delicious and reminds me vividly of growing up in Budapest and stopping into all the coffee and cake shops. I didn’t have any luck with the caramel recipe so after 2 tries that both crystallized I switched to a different recipe that was 1/3C water and 2/3C sugar and you don’t touch it till it’s boiling. It took forever (probably bc I was nervous and used a really low heat) but at least it worked. Also, because the caramel hardens so fast, I used an apple corer/slicer to cut out shapes because you get 8 wedges and a circle in each press. I managed two before it hardened up and it was fun to decorate with and after cutting the cake there was a caramel wedge for every piece.
I found a recipe for a doberge cake at this site ( https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/231087/doberge-cake/ ) and of course had to check the SmittenKitchen for similar first. I ended up using the sponge cake from SK, the custard and ganache from the allrecipes site, and substituting an orange underfrosting from here: https://www.thespruceeats.com/orange-buttercream-frosting-3057697
Ended up tasty, but the custard made the cake a bit soggy given I made 12 thin 8×6 cake layers. Also the allrecipes’ ganache had double the liquid it ought to have, so now I have a pint of chocolate ganache I don’t know what to do with.
Not sure I’ll ever make this cake again, given how much work it is (since I decided to overcomplicate it so much) but as a note to alternate-timeline versions of myself who decide to; the butter and flour on the parchment is essential! It’s amazing how the parchment just peels right off the finished cakes when you do it right.
I made this over three day’s for a coworker’s a birthday and little did I know, apparently his grandmother used to make it for their family members every year. He was touched and I was happy, despite the inordinate amount of time it took me to make due to my fussing and overthinking and ad hoc changes.Here’s what I would do differently next time:
1) Do not scale up the frosting (I ignored Deb’s comment and regret it). I thought I needed more frosting to make more distinct layers and scaled it up 50% and used the additional bit to coat the outside. You do not need this! I thought the extra chocolate between the layers overpowered the cake that on its own is already quite sweet. I think thin layers of chocolate would make the cake much more delicate next time, befitting of the thin sponge layers.
2) If you’re making Deb’s version, frost the 4 layers, cut, and then stack. I wasn’t quite sure the order in which Deb did it from the photos but I fussed and individually measured each layer to cut and stack, only to find they still didn’t line up. Since you will trim the edges anyway, why not trim them all at once after you’ve cut and stacked it? (This is probably how she did it – I am just dumb!)
3) For myself: consider cutting back on the sugar in the cake and NOT multitasking while beating egg whites. I always over beat.
Thank you for sharing Deb!
Is it really 455g of sugar for just 94g of flour? Thanks, and sorry if you already answered this in the comments but over 500 are way too many to read!
I think I will be making this for a large family birthday party (it’s my birthday, too, and this is the cake I want!), but need to leave the uncooked egg yolks out of the frosting due to the dietary restrictions of 2 of my nieces. Which of your frostings would make a good substitute? Thanks!
This is my go-to cake for festive events. I find it to be fool-proof and everyone loves it. I also have tried layering in chopped cherries and other fruits and that works well too. I’m about to make it for maybe my 5th time today. I find it goes faster than Deb says–I’ve definitely pulled it together in a rush in an hour. For a party of about 6, I’ll often make a double batch, forming two 4×8 rectangular cakes. I put one out for the party and save one for myself. It really does get better with resting for a few days.
Am I reading the recipe correctly that the frosting contains raw egg yolks? If so, could you suggest an alternative? Thanks!
I made this for my dad’s 70th birthday today, and it’s fabulous. I made it the same dimensions as Deb, using a quarter sheet pan. I frosted all 12 layers (didn’t trouble myself with the caramel top) Even spreading micro thin layers of frosting between layers I barely had enough to coat the outside, and I wish I’d had even 3 tablespoons more to pretty it up a bit, but otherwise I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Good morning Deb, I’m a very happy email subscriber of yours. (best decision ever!) Here it is, 9+ years after this post (2011/06) + a week and half before Thanksgiving 2020. After looking for inspiration from you for sweet potato recipe ideas for our family Thanksgiving table, I enjoyed meandering through your website with my first cup of the day: coffee. Hence, stumbling onto Dobos cake! This is my first introduction to a Dobos cake, and it looks amazing (and, bonus, your birthday stars make the cake!). I lived for a chapter of my life down on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where they are famous for their Smith-Island layer cakes. Visually, the Dobos cake layers are the first I’ve ever seen that compare to the multiple, thin layers of a Smith Island [cake]. I’m curious if you’ll eventually want to investigate the Smith Island layer cake, bake one, maybe even throw in a few compare-contrast comments. (Disclosure, I’ve never baked a Smith-Island myself always leaving those to the hands of the professionals). Much love to you and your sweet family this holiday season. Thank you for sharing your amazing, mouth watering dishes with the world!
The Smith Island cake has been on my list forever! I’m sure they’re distant cousins.
I have made this cake using my Hungarian grandmother’s recipe. It was my favorite cake growing up, and remains so now, so I make it for my December birthday. I’ve been known to make two — one for me and one for my father, whose birthday is near mine. I make round layers by spraying the back of a cookie sheet with floured baking spray and using my finger to trace twice around the bottom of a round cake tin, maybe 9 inch. I spread the batter on both, bake them while I prep the next sheet, and the whole thing goes pretty quickly. Usually I stack all of them and pour the caramel over the whole cake but I think your way is better!
It is the best cake ever, not too sweet, and I still eat it layer by layer. Thanks for posting.
Going to try this today. I’m going to beat the egg whites first since I only have one handheld mixer. And I have a quarter sheet pan so I will make your version. (Had to look up the size of a quarter sheet pan). I also have a larger sheet pan but its not quite 12×17 (are the sizes different here in Canada I wonder?) and I know I can just divide what I have but since this is my first try, I will go with you did. It looks wonderful and I’ve enjoyed all your other recipes that I’ve made. Thanks!
I followed the recipe as best I could but the cake layers stuck to the parchment and it turned into a big mess. I even used my never-fail pan release (https://www.food.com/recipe/pan-release-professional-pan-coating-better-than-pam-spray-78579) to grease the pan and parchment but still it stuck. The cake tasted great and I’m sure this torte would have been wonderful. It seems to have worked for others here so I will try again.
I found this easy enough to make (no more or less than any other cake with frosting), except that i thought my arm would fall off while beating the yolks:) (i have a hand mixer)
I made the sheet pan version, baked in 7 minutes, and cut in 6 pieces. I buttered and floured the parchment so didn’t have issues with it sticking. I didn’t use the yolks in the frosting so not sure if that affected the final taste/texture. I found the frosting too sweet, and for my 6 layer cake i could have got away with just 175 gms of butter/chocolate. Also the frosting was too buttery for us – maybe next time I’ll just use ganache. Overall i found the cake tasty and good looking but not spectacular.
I just made this for the first time, and it is AMAZING. This is the first year I am living with someone who thinks of 7-layer cake as the ideal birthday cake, and it was better than his childhood memories. (And I could make it dairy-free and eat it myself. The miyokos vegan margarine was great in the frosting. I might try another margarine next time, though all the others seem to have salt.) Complete win. Thank you so much.
Next year I want to borrow a stand mixer. Doing it by hand was exhausting!