Catholic Recipe: Dobos Torta
Also Called: Seven Layer Cake
A king of Hungary had called the Assumption by that name in an edict which dedicated his kingdom to Mary. That king was Stephen I, descendant of the Huns, who Christianized the four quarters of Hungary. Had it not been for some good Hungarian friends of ours we might have passed by St. Stephen's Day with only a note or a nod, but now it will never pass without the memory of Mrs. de Becza's dobos torta. We had been talking to Mrs. de Becza about feast day cookery and how much of it had been lost in the two great wars. We had both hoped that our children could "renew their heritage by celebrating their holidays" in peace. Then St. Stephen entered the conversation.
The dish of perfection was the fine Dobos Torta made especially on St. Stephen's Day. Anyone who talks of a cake with from seven to fifteen layers — each one of them iced — has the unbounded admiration of my children. Ann's eyes grew as big as saucers. Freddie's mouth began to drool. Mary seemed skeptical; while Kathy remarked loudly enough to be heard, "Can you make that?"
It wasn't long after that we were invited to tea and there on the table stood a resplendent Dobos Torta. Each layer of yellow spongy dough stood straight and clear. The chocolate cream was luscious to behold; on the top was the most beautiful of all icings. It was a caramel icing as transparent as amber glass. The pieces were marked for cutting by scores in the caramel so the knife would not crush the delicate layers. Even though it was not St. Stephen's Day, his memory lived on in our neighbor's skillful fingers and the cake she had made. We were taught a lesson in international brotherhood with Christ through a saint's day and its cake. From this day forth, St. Stephen's Day will be our holiday, too, and Mrs. de Becza's cake will be made and honored in our home.
There are three steps to the making of Dobos Torta. First, bake the cake layers, add the chocolate filling between layers, and then top the cake off with Caramel Icing.
St. Stephen's feast is now celebrated on August 16, instead of August 20, and is an optional memorial on the General Roman Calendar.
Beat egg yolks lightly and add sugar gradually. Beat until thick and lemon-colored, tripled on volume and falls from the beater in a thick ribbon (known as the ribbon stage). Stir in flour slowly. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in gently into the batter. Divide the batter among seven buttered and lightly floured layer cake pans, about 7 to 8 inch in size. Spread dough one-fourth inch thick You'll need seven to nine tins. If you don't possess that many layer tins, bake the cake in three identical 11- by 15-inch oblong pans — then divide each oblong layer into three parts. Bake in a moderate oven (350°) for five minutes or until light brown. Prepare Chocolate Filling while the cake is baking. Spread filling over each layer but the top layer. Make Carmel Icing, pour over top cake layer.Recipe Source: Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, 4625 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50310, 1949, 1999