Butter cake is layers of luscious

  • By Leah Eskin Chicago Tribune
  • Thursday, January 2, 2014 4:56pm
  • Life

Jennifer was baking dobos torte, so I stopped by. My job wasn’t to help or to coach. It was to egg on.

“Why not bake two?” I urged, pulling out surplus pans. “Why not bake three?”

We did. It took all day, and our cakes came out beautiful — layers of egg-light cake and chocolate-heavy buttercream crowned with crackling caramel. An homage to Hungarian pastry genius Jozsef C. Dobos, who reputedly engineered the well-insulated cake for long shelf life.

We were admiring its many black-and-white layers when Marya dropped by with a slice of Smith Island cake. I gasped: Thin layers of yellow butter cake interspliced with fudge. An American dobos, reputedly invented to keep well on the water.

I combined the easygoing layers of Maryland’s state cake with the luscious buttercream of Hungary’s national cake. This butter-happy hybrid ought to boast excellent keeping quality. But I’ve never had enough left to find out.

Maryland Smith Island torte

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans

3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for pans

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt

2 1/4 cups sugar

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 eggs

3 1/2 cups chocolate frosting, recipe follows

Butter and flour four 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, milk, vanilla and eggs. Pour wet ingredients over dry, whisking briefly. Let rest, 15 minutes. Whisk smooth.

Spread 1 cup batter into each prepared pan (saving the rest for the second round). Bake at 350 degrees until cakes pull away from the sides of the pans, about 15 minutes. Cool a few minutes. Turn out and cool completely.

Wash, dry, butter and flour pans again. Bake four more layers.

Spread one cooled cake layer with 1/3 cup frosting. Continue stacking and frosting all layers (leave top bare). Chill until set, about 30 minutes. Frost top and sides. Chill. Enjoy.

Makes one tall 9-inch cake.

Chocolate frosting: Whisk over medium heat until smooth and shiny: 1 cup heavy cream, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut up), 5 ounces semisweet chocolate (chopped), 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (chopped), 1/3 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon brewed coffee. Pull off heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir over an ice bath to cool. Chill until thick, about 30 minutes. Beat in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

More in Life

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Secret garden: Privacy trees that won’t outgrow a small space

These plants offer some height to block out unwanted sights without taking over your yard.

Stock your winter bookshelf with these animal and nature reads

Four new books cover outdoors topics from butterflies to wolves.

The Shed Players recently released their new album “Our Shingle Most Favorites.”
Listen here: Josh Clauson, The Shed Players release new CDs

This feature is all about Snohomish County’s homegrown talent: locals who make music and record it.

Newfangled cooker isn’t for those with tried and true methods

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley recently succumbed to peer pressure and purchased an Instant Pot.

Now is the time to assess your student’s back-to-school plan

Take a good look at how your kids are managing their new routine, class, teacher(s) and homework.

Author’s talk of birds and clouds kicks off Marysville series

1. Birds and clouds Marysville’s Outdoor Adventure Speakers Series is kicking into… Continue reading

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Oprah Winfrey joins ‘60 Minutes’ for 50th anniversary year

The media giant debuts on tonight’s show, reporting on a story about America’s political divisions.

Most Read