Maryland Smith Island Torte

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. – Chicago Tribune/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


1½ cups unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
3½ cups flour, plus more for pans
4 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp fine salt
2¼ cups sugar
2 cups milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
6 eggs
3½ cups chocolate frosting, recipe follows


Butter and flour four 23cm 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 180°C until cakes pull away from the sides of the pans, about 15 minutes. Cool a few minutes. Turn out and cool completely.

Repeat: 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.

Chocolate frosting: Whisk over medium heat until smooth and shiny: 1 cup heavy cream, 6 tbsp unsalted butter (cut up), 140g semisweet chocolate (chopped), 60g unsweetened chocolate (chopped), 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp espresso powder dissolved in 1 tbsp brewed coffee. Pull off heat. Stir in 1 tsp 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 3½ cups.

Cake layers adapted from Saveur.

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