Dobos Torte – A Hungarian Speciality


Finished photoDobos Torte is a Hungarian multilayered cake consisting of anywhere between 6 to 11 layers of spongecake filled with an intense, but super light, chocolate buttercream made like no other I have seen.  Traditionally it is topped with hard caramel fans.  Since no one ever ate the caramel and it was a pain to make and cut, I changed it to chocolate!

Invented by a Hungarian confectioner  József C. Dobos, this classic cake remains in the pastry repertoire.  The combination of lemon butter sponge with chocolate is unusual but works really well together.

Dobos Torte is one of Hungary’s best known desserts. The butter sponge layers are filled sparingly  with a light, delicate but intense chocolate buttercream.  You won’t believe the ease of the buttercream.  The original recipe uses raw egg yolks.  Updating the recipe required getting rid of the egg yolks.  Since 40% or heavy cream is fat and egg yolks are fat, I simply switched the yolks for the cream.  I honestly can’t tell the difference in texture or taste and it is certainly a lot easier than separating 12 eggs.   Besides, one cake with 21 egg yolks seems excessive to me.

Dobos Torte was one of the very special desserts my mother would make.  I have no idea where she got the recipe but my mother was both a talented cook and baker.  I grew up with croissants, Schaum tortes, Dobos Tortes, all manner of phyllo desserts including strudels and pitas.

Mother made the buttercream in a blender as processors weren’t on the market yet.  I use a food processor with the same technique.

This can be made over a number of days.  If I want to make the majority of it ahead of time, I make it to the point of undercoating the cake.  Make half the buttercream, fill and undercoat it then freeze and wrap it.  Thaw it the day before finishing in the refrigerator.  When ready to finish it, make another half of the buttercream and apply the top coat.  Make the chocolate fans and assemble the cake.  I have included one half the buttercream recipe for your convenience.

Making this Dobos Torte even easier, the finished cake holds well for several days in the refrigerator so it isn’t a last minute hassle.

While this looks like a difficult dessert, it actually isn’t at all.  The fans make it showy but are simple to make.  And it is certainly worth whatever effort it takes.

Lemon Butter Sponge – see

Make the 3 layer version.  When they are cool, freeze them for several hours.    These can be made a month ahead if desired.  If they are frozen solid, allow them to partially defrost.  Place a piece of waxed paper or parchment on top of the cake as it will be very moist.  With a serrated knife, cut each of the layers in half horizontally. Slicing cake horizontallyAssemble the layers as they were and set aside while you make the buttercream and fans.

Chocolate Buttercream for Dobos Torte
1 pound semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (454 grams)
1 1/2 cups butter, 30 minutes out of the refrigerator (340 grams or 12 ounces or 3 sticks)
2/3 cup 40% cream
3 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee flavored liqueur
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup powdered sugar (40 grams or 1 1/3 ounces)

One half the recipe for Chocolate buttercream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (225 grams)
3/4 cup butter (170 grams or 6 ounces)
1/3 cup cream
1 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua or other chocolate liqueur
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons powdered sugar (20 grams or 2/3 ounce)

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or microwave at half power until it looks shiny and it is beginning to melt.  If microwaving, let it sit for a few minutes then stir.  It may need more time in the microwave, depending upon the power of the unit and/or size of the bowl.

Transfer to the bowl of a processor or blender.  Chocolate in processorCut the butter into 1 inch pieces and place in a circle over the chocolate.Butter over chocolateProcess about 30 seconds or until smooth.  Choc/Bttr [rpcessedAdd the 40% cream and process about 10 seconds.  Cream inAdd the Kahlua, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Powdered sugar inProcess about 5 seconds.  The buttercream will be amazingly light but hold its shape.Buttercream finishedButtercream on spatula

Getting all the buttercream off the processor blade is easy if, after removing most of the buttercream from the processor bowl, you put the blade back in and pulse the machine several times.  Whatever is stuck to the blade will be flung off by centrifugal force and your blade will be clean.  Simply scrape the rest out of the bowl and you’re done.Cleaning blade of processor

Yield:  About 4 cups.

Chocolate Fans:Choc. for fans6 ounces semisweet chocolate

Spray a 9″ round cake pan sprayed pan for tartsand line it with parchment.  Do not spray the parchment.Pan lined for fansMelt chocolate over hot water or at half power in a microwave.

Choc. for fans meltingStir or gently whisk to smooth out.  Reheat at half power if necessary.Chocolate for fans meltedSpread evenly over the parchment.  Spreading Chocolate for fansChoc. for fans finishedRefrigerate briefly to set up.  Fans refrigeratedRelease from pan by using a blow dryer to briefly heat the sides of the panFans with heat gununtil the chocolate just begins to melt.  edge of fan meltingPlace a cake board over the top of the cake pan and turn it upside down.  Rap the cake board with the cake pan on the table several times until the chocolate falls onto the board.  Reheat if necessary.Fans - released upside downRemove 2/3 of the the parchment and  Fans - releasing paperturn the chocolate around facing you.  Releasing paper Remove the paper pulling it towards the center until it is free.  Make a small hole with a toothpick or cake tester marking the center.  I have taken a 9″ parchment circle and folded it in half several times until I have a narrow wedge.  I use this by lining it up at the edge of the chocolate and then marking the center.  Marking center of cakeTo cut, heat the knife under really, really hot water.  Quickly dry it with a paper towel.  Melt through the chocolate.  Wiggle the knife to separate the pieces slightly.  Reheat and dry the knife between cuts. Let the knife melt through the chocolate, do not apply a lot of pressure.  Cut into 12 to 16 pieces. Cutting Fans 1Cutting Fans 2Cutting Fans 3Cutting fans 4Cuting Fans 5Cutting fans 6Keep the fans refrigerated while you assemble the cake.

Reserve 1/2 cup buttercream for rosettes.  Set aside.

Place one of the six layers on a cake board.  Spread 1/3 cup buttercream between the layers. spreading buttercream on 1st layer

It will not look like enough.  It is.

Crumb coat the sides and the top.  See the Carrot Cake blog for how to photos.Cake undercoatedPlace in the refrigerator to set up.  When the buttercream is set, apply the finish coat.  See the Carrot Cake blog, minus the finish for the carrot cake. Cake over coatedAt this point you need to make a channel at the bottom of the cake so when you move it onto a cake plate, the buttercream will not crack.  To do this, take a small, flexible spatula and very carefully, remove the buttercream touching the cake board.channeling the cake

Mark the cake for the number of pieces you have fans for using the same technique as for the fans.  Twelve to sixteen are good numbers.  marking cakeFit a pastry bag with a number 4 or 5 open star.  Fill the bag with the reserved buttercream.  Pipe a rosette in the middle of each piece.  Refrigerate briefly to firm up the rosettes.Piping rosettesAll rosettes pipedPicking up a fan by the edges, lean one fan on each rosette fitting them into the center.Leaning fan on rosetteLeaning fan on rosette 2Fans 2/3 placedAll fans on minus rosettePipe a large rosette in the middle to cover all the points.Rosette in middleRemember to look like this was the hardest thing you ever made when you present it. I can guarantee a lot of oohs and aahhs!



Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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10 thoughts on “Dobos Torte – A Hungarian Speciality

  1. Cyd Hay

    Chef Helen, thank you for this recipe
    I love your step by step photos. It makes it so very easy to follow .
    I can’t wait to prepare this recipe

  2. Vivian Vuong

    What a beautiful cake. You make it look so easy. I’m going to make this for my daughter’s 16th birthday. Thank you for the posting.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Vivian: What a special 16th birthday cake. It can be made over several days or weeks so plan accordingly and it will be very doable. Let me know how it went.

  3. Mari gold

    Oh my! This is one of my most favorite cakes and until now have never attempted to try it. My family will be impressed if I can pull it off. Being from St. Louis, I miss miss hullings and Phiffers bakery’s. I miss their seven layer cakes that. were similar. Thanks a million, I AM going to try.m

    1. hfletcher Post author

      You will do just fine. This is actually easy, just take it in steps over a number of days. Let me know how it goes – I have every faith in you. This is one of my favorites.

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