Sunday, 15 June 2014

Layer upon Layer

Fanny's family apparently called this 'squashed cake', which I doubt the Viennese 'hausfrau' that Fanny describes as wrangling over the split-hair niceties of their treasured family recipes would've approved of. They call it Dobostorte, or Austrian Layer Cake. Fanny speaks very highly of the Viennese, as they are marvellous p√Ętissiers who are reverent about fine food, fairly casual about wines and quite certain that no-one except their aunts and grandmothers ever knew how any single thing should be done properly. As we know, Fanny insists on things being done properly. She recounts a story of seeing two passionate, eye-blazing, well bosomed women 'shaking their black curls in fury' at each other over whether it was okay to pipe the edge of a 'Dobos' with buttercream, or not. Fanny gives nothing away at this stage, so let's see what the 'proper' answer is.

Fanny shows me another sponge technique with this one. The aim is to make several very thin layers of sponge which are then assembled into one cake. Just three ingredients for the sponge - eggs, flour and icing sugar. The egg whites are beaten within an inch of their lives, and the icing sugar added. Then, mix the egg yolks with a fork and beat them in, and blend the flour gently.

Fanny warns that I may be surprised at this stage and wonder if the very small amount of mixture will indeed stretch to several layers of cake. Well, five layers to be precise. This is what Fanny says I should aim for although she admits it was only after several practice attempts that she managed it herself. She says not to be too disappointed if I only manage 4. Ah-ha a challenge! The whipped mix goes into a small cake tin, just greased and lined, with only enough mix to cover the base. It takes 10 minutes to bake each layer, although Fanny suggests if you have five tins and many ovens you can make them all at the same time. Presumably Fanny has, but I don't. Fanny reassures me though that the mix will not spoil while I wait. Proudly, I made SIX little layers of sponge - take that Fanny!

When cool, the layers of sponge are assembled back in the tin, with layers of greaseproof paper in between, then heavy weights are placed on top overnight. I used jars of marmalade. This'll be the 'squashed' part. Next day it's time to make the buttercream filling, with chocolate chips, butter, icing sugar and egg yolks. It's basically beat the butter, add the sugar, beat again, add the melted chocolate and finally the yolks. It makes a glossy and thick buttercream, with a consistency of Nutella. Yum. All ready to spread I between each layer of sponge.

Fanny gives two variations for the top layer - the classic 'Dobos' way and a revised Fany version if I was to think that too complicated. I don't want those big bosomed Viennese women chasing me, so I'm going 'proper' with a caramel topping. This involves melting caster sugar in a small pan until it turns a rich golden brown colour, and then pour it over one of the sponges until it sets. The alternative version is just more buttercream and some milled nuts. Fanny reminds me that sugar can be very hot and not to burn my fingers. Once poured over, I need to score slices into it to avoid a disaster at a later stage. I presume this is a shattering top when cut, but my scoring skills aren't up to it I don't think. My finished Dobostorte is a little wonky, but cuts well and tastes great! I don't think I'll be setting up a Viennese P√Ętisserie any day soon, but hopefully there will be no street fights either.

I've linked this blog post to the Cook Blog Share linky challenge by the lovely @supergolden88 


  1. I love Dobostorte but must admit never making it as it looks like so much work! Well done for achieving the layers (6 no less) and the buttercream sounds very very rich! I think I want to have a go at this... Thanks for linking to #CookBlogShare - check our the Pinterest board

    1. Thanks, it was fun to make actually, but does take a bit of time... Also pleased I managed to link to #CookBlogShare and also insert the HTML bade okay - new skills!

  2. I'd love to get squashed in this anytime!! Nom, nom, nom