A very yummy plating disaster with the Daring Bakers


August’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella & me, Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar. We have chosen the famous Dobos Torta, a Hungarian speciality.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

A Dobos Torta is a 5-layer sponge cake that is filled with chocolate buttercream & topped with caramel wedges. There can be up to 24 layers in a Dobos Torta, just in case you were wondering. The Dobos Torta was invented in 1885 by Jozsef C. Dobos who was a Hungarian baker. Check out the full recipe & everyone else wonderful creations at http://www.thedaringkitchen.com.

I halved the recipe to make 2 small round Torta’s.


Dobos Torta

For the sponge cake layers, I made Hannah Kaminsky’s recipe in My Sweet Vegan.

For the chocolate buttercream

6 oz coconut yogurt, chocolate flavored

¾ cup sugar

4 oz dark chocolate

1 stick Earth Balance

2 TBSP silken, firm tofu

I whipped them together in my kitchen aid until combined.

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup sugar

  • ¾ cup water

  • 2 TBSP lemon juice

Finishing touches

  • 6 whole macadamia nuts

(from our hosts) Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper & butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife & an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water & lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high & boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally & washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn’t just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time & the cake layer was cold & the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less & you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut & separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back & forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela’s note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later & it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.


Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into 6 equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 ½” cardboard round & top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

img_3505.jpg    img_3509.jpg

All frosted, doesn’t look too good though.   Okay, now it really looks funny.  Is it supposed to fall over???

We were able to vary the shape, buttercream flavor, & nuts that we used for this recipe. I stayed with all the flavors they gave us except for the nuts. I have discovered that I just don’t like hazelnuts, not sure why. I keep trying to like them, but… I had some macadamia nuts on hand, so I used those.

img_3506.jpg  After being picked up & set back upright.

Verdict: Great flavor, but I totally tanked on the plating, it completely fell over. I did miss how to do the caramel. We were supposed to cover the top layer of cake, which I did, then cut those into 12 triangles to use on top as decoration. Well, I just covered the top layer & placed it on top of the cake, not as pretty, but since it fell over anyway…um…, I guess it didn’t matter?

I do recommend this Torta, very yummy & really not that hard to make. Thank you so much for such a wonderful challenge.


HCW Tips

Hi all!  I hope things are going well for you as school is starting back up & summer is coming to a close.  I hear that the summer head cold is passing around.  If you are starting to feel tired or just not up to par, make sure you are eating your fruits and veggies.  Drink your smoothies everyday, maybe adding some emergen-C packets (or take a multi vitamin), keep some carrot sticks & other veggies nearby for your snacks. 

Quick & easy snacks: when you get home from the store, chop of your carrots into sticks & put in zip top bags so all you have to do is grab one when you’re hungry.  Chop up or just grab an apple, peach, nectarine, pack up some grape bunches into zip top bags.  Better yet, try some fresh figs a papaya or mangos!  Not sure how to cut them open, or what part to eat of some of the “weird” fruits & veggies?  Just do a quick search on the web using goodsearch.com or ggogle.com  they will have pictures as well as descriptions. 

Eating your fruits & veggies at every meal & cutting down on your sugar (which weakens our immune system) will help you to fight off & hopefully not get the bugs that come knocking on our immune systems, especially as the kids head back to school.

Daring Cooks for August 2009

flame_w125×125.jpgOur host this month is Olga from Las Cosas de Olga & Olga’s Recipes. She has chosen a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish & artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment. Olga tells us that Jose Andres trained under well-known Ferran Adria at his 3 Michelin star restaurant El Bulli. He lives now in Washington DC & he owns several restaurants in Washington DC area (El Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel…). The recipe is from his US TV show Made in Spain.


I only made half of the recipe, since just the 2 of us would be eating it (we still had leftovers). I didn’t have to make too many adjustments to the recipe. You can find the original recipe, as well as everyone elses creations here: www.thedaringkitchen.com

Here is what I did:

Rice with mushrooms, white beans and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes Serves: 2
Equipment: 1 Chopping Board, 1 knife, 1 medium saucepan, 1 Saucepan

1 can of Artichokes, quartered

6 cremini Mushrooms, cut into 4ths

1 Bay leaf (optional but highly recommended)

½ glass of white wine

½ can great northern beans, drained & rinsed

“Sofregit” (see recipe below)

1 cups Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about ½ cup per person

3 cups Vegetable Broth (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)

Saffron threads (you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)

Allioli (adapted from Veganomicon) – optional

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable broth in a saucepan, add a bay leaf, artichokes and the mushrooms. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.

  2. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom get mixed in, giving it more flavor.

  3. Add ½ cup of sofregit & mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with it.

  4. Add the liquid and bring it to boil.

  5. Add the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in high heat.

  6. Add the saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice & the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only ¼ tsp.

  7. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)

  8. Remove the pan from heat, stir in the beans and let stand a couple of minutes.

img_3497.jpgSofregit (a well cooked & fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic & onions, & may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

2 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 small onions, chopped

½ green bell pepper, chopped (optional)

3 garlic cloves, chopped

½ cup of cremini mushrooms, chopped (optional)

1 Bay leaf


Touch of ground cumin

Touch of dried oregano

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.

  2. Taste and salt if necessary.

The Allioli was an optional ingredient. I did add it, although I don’t think it really added that much to the dish. Olga gave us the option of making a traditional one or a new modern recipe. It is served together with the rice, giving it a very nice taste. I did like the added garlic flavor that it gave.

Allioli (adapted from Veganomicon) Prep time: 5 minutes

½ can great northern beans, drained & rinsed

1 TBSP lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 cloves garlic

2 TBSP water

2 tsp ground flax seeds

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.


Olga’s Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) For more information on how to clean & remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this
(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click
(8) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil & garlic alone.
(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.

Verdict: This was simple to make & very tasty. Hubby also really liked it. I did take a couple of shortcuts by using canned artichokes, but this month has been busy, so I didn’t want to add any more to it. I didn’t actually think I was going to get to this. I actually made this with just a few hours to spare. Make sure you check out what everyone else did.

July Challenge for R2R

It’s the beginning of another month and that means its Recipes To Rival time!! Our host this month is brought to you by Lauren of Fried Pickles & Ice Cream. http://friedpicklesandicecream.blogspot.com/

What was our challenge this month? A little summer taste of Italy! A delicious & simple antipasta (appetizer), Bruschetta & a digestivo (after-dinner drink), Limoncello.
img_3402.jpg    img_3404.jpg
Lauren tells us that “Bruschetta, having its origination in Italy, is served as an antipasta. It is one of the simplest & easiest things to make & will gratify your taste buds. It is greatly enjoyed when paired with red wine. In Italian, Bruschetta is pronounced ‘brusketta’, where ‘bruscare’ means ‘to roast over coals’. The trick is to roast or grill the bread… NOT bake it as we do in America. Once you have tried this recipe you will have a hard time ordering it at a restaurant!”

She also tells us that “Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that originated in Southern Italy around the Bay of Naples. The liqueur derives its flavor from the peels, rather than the juice of the fruit, resulting in a pleasant, sweet, lemony taste. It is wonderful as a palate cleanser or as an after dinner drink. Keep your bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. The ingredients are simple & few, & making a batch doesn’t require much work, but you’ll need some time… don’t wait until the last minute to make it!!”

I love bruschetta! I also love limoncello! I was so excited to see this challenge. My first taste of limoncello was at Olive Garden, they have a frozen limoncello lemonade that is amazing!!! I have been looking for a bottle of limoncello ever since, but sadly, I have yet to find it. Now, I can make it at home. It is so simple to make. Bruschetta I have made before & always love it. If you have never tried it before, it is a must make. Thank you so much Lauren for the great challenge!

Here are the recipes:
Bruschetta (4 servings)
4 slices Rustic Bread
2 cups chopped Roma Tomatoes    I used grape and Roma tomatoes
1 clove Garlic
4 to 8 leaves Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil                     I omitted
Sea salt

-Heat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
-Slice THICK pieces of bread
-Place bread on grill until each side has a nice golden color
-Rub garlic on top side of each bread piece
-Pile tomatoes on
-sprinkle one big pinch of salt per piece on top of the tomatoes
-generously drizzle oilve oil on top of tomatoes (about 2 to 3 tablespoons per piece) omitted
-add basil to the top

1 liter grain alcohol
5 1/2 cups water
5 large lemons (or 10 small lemons)
2 1/2 cups sugar

-Gently wash lemons in cool water to remove any dirt
-Peel away zest from lemon leaving as little pith (the white stiff) as possible.
-Put peels in a large sealed jar or container (I reused the alcohol bottle)
-Pour alcohol over lemons and place container in a cool place.
-Leave the mixture for 7 days.
-Every day give the container a little swirl. You will see the alcohol become darker & darker every day.
-After 7 days, strain the alcohol by using a coffee filter.
-Prepare the simple syrup. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar to dissolve.
-Mix the syrup with the alcohol. BE CAREFUL… DO NOT DO THIS NEAR A FLAME!!!
-Pour the limoncello into bottles or containers. Let cool completely. Store in the freezer until ready to serve!
*Date your limoncello. After a year it will no longer be delicious.

img_3355.jpg    img_3403.jpg

Verdict: Limoncello – a little too much alcohol and not enough lemon, but pretty darn good for my first try. I will definitely be making this again. It is totally worth the effort. I would also use vodka next time instead of the grain alcohol.

Bruschetta – always a winner! Hubby actually liked the Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Crostini that we did back in December better, he just isn’t a huge fan of basil. Very tasty, quick & easy to make. This makes a great appetizer for any party.

 img_3400.jpg    img_3406.jpg