My family’s version of Dobos Torte showed up at almost every family get together. Dobos Torte, as I know it is a tall layered yellow sponge cake all held together by a smattering of easy but insanely delicious chocolate buttercream. But what really puts Dobos Torte over the top is the caramel topping that you pour on the top of the cake and let cascade down the sides. The caramel hardens and you have to crack into the top of the cake in order to serve anyone up a slice. The combo of yellow sponge cake, chocolate buttercream, and crunchy caramel is seriously to die for.
My cousin Sigourney sadly cannot eat gluten meaning that she cannot eat Dobos Torte. This cake is for her. The original family recipe calls for 3/4 cup of flour. I tried to replace all the flour with almond meal but the cake turned out dense and sunken (although it tasted pretty good). I tried a few other things like upping the baking powder, using more almond meal, etc. I wanted to keep the cake recipe as close to the original as possible for ease sake. I did some research and saw that some gluten free recipes for sponge cakes used corn starch which struck me as odd. But I decided to go with it. Instead of 3/4 cup of flour I used 3/4 cup of corn starch + 1/4 cup of almond meal for texture and flavor. It worked out pretty well but I’m not done experimenting.
I also used a technique I learned from my friend Laura and from Christina Tosi – baking a cake recipe in a rimmed sheet pan and then cutting out the layers. The leftover cake scraps you press together into a cake pan to make the rest of the layers. If you are going for a naked Milk Bar look to your cake or you are going to frost the outside, you don’t need perfect looking cake layers and this technique works quite well.
The gluten free version of this cake is definitely best made and eaten the day of. The cake layers are very soft so cutting into it is a bit difficult without making a mess as you can see from the photos. But I always think there’s some serious beauty in a mess.
Gluten Free Dobos Torte
- 1/4 cup almond meal
- 3/4 cup sifted corn starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup butter at room temperature
- 1 cup chocolate chips, melted
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons cream
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan or rimmed half sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In bowl of stand mixer beat eggs on medium to high speed for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Slowly add sugar.
- Add vanilla.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Fold dry ingredients gently into egg mixture.
- Pour into prepared pan
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until puffed and slightly browned.
- In bowl of stand mixer beat butter till light and fluffy.
- Add melted chocolate.
- Add powdered sugar.
- Add cream as needed.
Preparing the cake
- When cake has cooled use a 6 inch cake pan as a template to cut out the cake layers. I was able to get 4 layers and then I cobbled together the rest of the cake scraps to create the other 2 layers by pressing the scraps into the 6 inch cake pan and then freezing. I loosened the sides of the cake from the pan with my hands and then turned it over to release the now smooshed together but whole cake layer.
- Place a thin layer of frosting between each cake layer. Do not frost the top layer.
- Frost the sides of the cake and refrigerate while you prepare the topping.
- In a small saucepan over low heat combine sugar, cream of tartar, and water.
- Stir the mixture until the sugar melts. Then increase heat to medium.
- After about 10 to 15 minutes the sugar water will start to turn a light yellow/caramel color. At this point keep your eye closely on it. It will quickly become darker. When it has turned a dark amber color turn off the heat.
- Remove cake from refrigerator. Slowly power the caramel on top of the cake letting it run down the sides. After about a minute or two it will harden up.
- When it's time to eat the cake, use a knife to crack the top of the caramel and then cut into slices.