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Dobos is the quintessential Hungarian torte. Like gulyás, dobos is circulated in endless variations over the Internet, but few of the recipes are authentic dobos. These may look like dobos, but they won’t taste like the real thing. One of the funniest is the food network’s dobos recipe, flogging it as a Viennese wonder, even naming the bakery where they got the wrong recipe from. Someone should have sailed a bit further down the Danube and visit one of the famous Hungarian coffee houses for the real Dobos.

But in all fairness, the discrepancies do not stop at the border; I found much of the information on Hungarian food is inaccurate in English both on the Net and in cookbooks . How one's Hungarian auntie always made something is not the measure, nor is the fusion food Hungarian immigrants might have developed over the years. I am sure other food cultures are just as often misrepresented and misunderstood. Unless one is fully submerged in the culinary history of a particular culture, one cannot be sure if the misinformation stems from ignorance or with expropriation in mind. I can think of no better example than the numerous claims of authenticity to the variations of the Eszterházy Torte. The creator was a Hungarian count, but the original recipe remained with Austria after the "treaty" of Trianon in 1920 when two thirds of Hungary was given away to her neighbors. So that is how the Viennese came to be in the possession of the original recipe. 

The dobos torte was the creation of Dobos József. [Drummer Joe] He wanted to develop a torte that would last longer, so he added starch to the flour. Dobos was also the first one to make buttercream, which he discovered quite by accident. Up to that point creams were cooked, contained flour and large amounts of heavy cream and the whole process was an elaborate procedure. I believe Dobos used cornstarch in his dobos, but potato flour [which is also a starch] works equally well. I myself prefer potato starch instead of cornstarch, because it is more stable. It is the addition of starch which gives  dobos its distinct flavour. Otherwise the recipe is a basic piskóta, and never contains butter, baking powder or any other leavener. 

1 cup flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1 cup sugar
9 eggs
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

• Line 3 round cake pans with parchment paper.
• If you don’t have 3 pans, use disposable aluminum cake pans.
• Preheat oven to 350F.
• In a bowl sift together the flour and potato starch.
• Add the grated lemon zest.
• In a large bowl beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar for 5 minutes.
• Gradually add the flour and potato mix to the yolk mixture.
• Wash the beaters and beat egg whites to soft peeks.
• Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat to stiff glossy peaks.
• Stir some beaten egg white into the batter.
• Gently fold in the remaining whites.
• Place the batter in three 8-inch parchment lined cake pans.
• Bake at 425F for 5-6 minutes until light golden.
• Remove from oven, loosen the edge and invert on wire racks.
• Peel off paper and let cool completely.
• Cut each cake into 2 layers.

5 tsp bitter cocoa
6 squares semi sweet chocolate
2 cups UNSALTED butter [minimum]
2 cups icing sugar

if you plan to do any piping use 3 cups unsalted butter and 3 cups icing sugar.

Instead of using chocolate, you can make a simple butter cream. Just increase the cocoa to 1/3 cup and omit the chocolate. In that case beat the butter and the icing sugar for 5-8 minutes and add the bitter cocoa. Beat to incorporate and the butter cream is ready.

• Dissolve cocoa in a heatproof bowl with 2 Tbsp boiling water.
• Add the chocolate and melt over a small pot of simmering water.
• Stir occasionally.
• Let cool until thickened, but not set.
• In another bowl, beat the butter and the icing sugar for 5-8 minutes.
• Stir in the chocolate.
• Beat mixture until fluffy and thick.
• Sandwich 5 cake layers with 1/4 inch butter cream in between.
• Spread the top and sides with butter cream and chill for 1 hour.

1-1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup margarine block, chilled
sharp knife

• Meanwhile, make the caramel top.
• Place a sheet of parchment paper on the board.
• Place the remaining cake layer in the middle of the paper.
• Ever so lightly glaze with apricot jam. This will give an even appearance to the caramel.
• Place a large sharp knife and the margarine near.
• Combine the sugar with 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice.
• In a saucepan, slowly melt the sugar mix, stirring continuously.
• Handle with care: sugar burns fast, so keep stirring.
• When the caramel is lightly browned*, remove from heat.
• Immediately pour on the cake layer.
• Melted sugar is very hot, never let it touch your skin. Keep children away!
• There is only a short time to score and to cut.
• Slice the knife through the margarine first then cut.
• Repeat until the caramel top is all sliced up.
• Let the caramel tops cool completely.
• Place cooled caramel tops on top of the cake.

* Caramel keeps darkening even after the pot is removed from heat. If you aim for a blond color, it will be just perfect at the end.




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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!