Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dobos Torte

My good friend, Helene recently passed the bar exam, the first time that she took it, and 20 years after completing law school. This was quite an accomplishment and I am so proud of her! My other friend, Amy and I wanted to do something special to acknowledge her accomplishment so we decided to throw a party.

I wanted to make a special cake for the party and decided to give the Dobos Torte a go. The Dobos Torte is a favorite in Viennese pastry shops which was perfect since Helene is Austrian. However, the Dobos Torte (pronounced doh-bosh) actually has a Hungarian origin. It was created by a well known Hungarian confectioner, Jozsef C. Dobos in 1884.

There are several recipes for the Dobos Torte but I decided to use the recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. In Martha's recipe, there are nine layers of sponge caked filled with chocolate Swiss meringue butter cream.  Rather than bake three cakes and slice each cake into 3 layers like Martha suggests, I decided to bake each of the nine layers separately. This took quite a bit of time but I found it much easier than trying to slice the cakes into nine even layers. I also chose not to make the caramel decorations in the recipe, and instead decided to make the traditional caramel coated sponge layer for the top decoration.

To make the top caramel layer, I set aside one of my thinnest sponge layers. I boiled about a cup of sugar with a couple tablespoons of water until it the sugar dissolved and turned a light amber color. I then poured the caramel over the top of the sponge layer and sliced the layer into 16 wedges before it cooled completely. I also dipped each wedge into bittersweet chocolate for a little added decoration and taste. I held each wedge on the top with a roasted hazelnut.

I was very pleased with how the cake turned out and look forward to making it again!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Picnic Table For Tess

This picnic table turned out to be another joint project of mine and Keith's. The boys had a cute green picnic table, just like this one, that a neighbor made many years ago, and it had been sitting in our backyard for several years even though the boys had outgrown it.

My plan was to refinish Mac and Ethan's old table and give it to Tess for her second birthday. I knew it would be quite a bit of work because the paint was coming off, and Pongo had chewed through two of the bench boards when he was a puppy. 

Keith bought some replacement wood for the benches but when we went to pull of the chewed boards we found several other boards that were rotted. Unfortunately the table fell apart when we started pulling the boards off and the whole thing ended up in the garbage. Since I had already told Amy that we were refinishing the table for Tess, I felt obligated to start from scratch, so we did. 

Keith built the new and improved table out of treated wood so that it wouldn't rot in our Indiana weather. I stained, and polyurethaned the table, and then painted a few personal touches like Tessa's name and some flowers.

The table turned out to be a very sturdy piece of furniture which is perfect for an active two-year old like Tess!