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

New documentary chronicles Obama’s last year in White House

“The Final Year” doesn’t paint the administration in rosy colors, but it isn’t too critical either.

‘Forever My Girl’ takes a page from the Nicholas Sparks genre

The film based on a novel by Heidi McLaughlin is a well-worn tale of lost love and redemption.

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

International guitar tour led by Lulo Reinhardt stops in Edmonds

International Guitar Night, now in its 18th year, is Jan. 24 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

New Cascadia Art Museum exhibit showcases mid-century designs

The exhibition includes ceramics, furniture, clothing, sculpture and jewelry from 1948 to 1966.

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Slow-roasted vegetables make sumptuous sauce for pasta

Make the basic but good spaghetti with red sauce blissfully better with this recipe.

Mocking meatloaf: One man’s loaf is another man’s poison

Some don’t like it and some do. Here are six meatloaf recipes to try.

Roasted Brussels sprouts can be the apple of picky eater’s eye

Toasted sesame seeds and diced apple add flavors that compliment the sprouts’ earthiness.

Most Read