As part of the project to eat a bunch of Hungarian foods in March (magyar március!), I made one of Hungary’s most famous cakes, the Dobos cake. Unlike what many translated recipes claim, this is not called Drum Cake in English; Dobos is the name of the man who invented it.
I used a combination of recipes, as usual. This one by a professional food blogger was long, detailed, and in English. My other source was a recipe from my Hungarian grandmother-in-law, written on a tiny scrap of paper.
This was definitely one of the most elaborate things I’ve ever cooked. There was a point in the middle where I almost gave up. In fact it was this point:
See the progression of layers? The first (at the top) was lovely and flat. The next was wavy. Then wavy and lumpy and torn. And then that last one came out of the oven…
In addition, the whole sponge-cake thing was not so much sponge-y as definitely rubbery. Something was a bit off with the eggs in the original recipe; I think the part where it said to beat the egg yolks until they were “white and fluffy” should have been a clue.
Luckily, I only had enough batter to make one more layer, and besides, the next step was smothering everything with chocolate buttercream. Things started looking up again.
Then I had to pick the nicest-looking layer (easy choice) and destroy it by pouring boiling sugar over it. All the instructions about using a buttered spatula to spread and a buttered bread knife to cut, and hurry hurry before the caramel sets… it seemed a bit nerve-racking, to say the least. And did you know when you cook sugar and lemon juice, it gets all weirdly foamy, like a bad science experiment? I did not, and I was slightly worried about how that white, foamy disaster would become a smooth caramel top to my cake…
But it did! I used a regular, unbuttered knife to separate the pieces a little, and after it hardened I whacked them with my cleaver. Presto, easy.
And the final step, my favorite: adding more globs of chocolate buttercream to prop up the caramel wedges. Because there’s not enough chocolate buttercream already…