It's All About the FoodChristmas Baking with SusieJ

Dobosh cake

It was time for the annual parent association fundraising dinner. Every year I bake something. And every year something goes horribly wrong, and I need to bake twice.

Dobash cake is the Hawaiian specialty I chose to bake for this year's party (luau theme, no nuts). It's vaguely related to Hungarian Dobos torte. There is apparently only one recipe for dobash cake on the whole net. I picked it because it's a fairly simple chocolate cake with poured chocolate icing, and who doesn't like a chocolate-chocolate cake?

Transplanted Hawaiians raved about the cake, and looked for places where they could by it.

All recipes call for two eight-inch pans, which I don't own. But I do own a Kaiser bottomless adjustable cake ring. Which, as it turns out, will not hold a thinner batter without the batter leaking out the bottom. After transferring the ring (and leaking batter) from one baking sheet to a flatter sheet, I popped it into the oven for 45 minutes (50% longer time) ... and watched a quarter of the batter seep under the ring.

I quickly whipped up another batch of batter and baked it in two nine-inch pans (while driving my husband and son to poker night). The cake recipe was straightforward enough that it wasn't much trouble — although I would recommend adding the oil, milk, egg yolks and sugar at once, rather than in two additions.

Dobash cake should be a four-layer cake. The two layers are each sliced in half. My nine-inch layers were only about an inch and a half tall, too short for slicing. I looked over at the first cake; it was tall enough to slice into three layers. Good to know I'd baked a cake I wouldn't use!

(The extra layers did keep well, even unfrozen. I later iced the layers with some leftover buttercream and took it into the office. Always freeze any leftover icing.)

The icing calls for corn starch, an ingredient I use mostly in Chinese stir fry, a tablespoon or two at a time, and rarely when baking. Of course, I was nearly out. Of course, I don't keep a second box on hand. After a trip to the grocery (most of which was spent driving and cursing), the icing was underway.

Dobash cake has the oddest icing I've ever encountered. It's closest to a chocolate pudding, but made with water and butter, not milk. After boiling water, sugar and butter, cocoa and corn starch are added (and the sifting step really is needed; without sifting, it's necessary to pour the icing through a strainer to remove lumps). The corn starch absorbs the water, and the mixture cools to a pudding consistency, in the end becoming, er, very springy, shall we say. For a long time, it was too liquid to really ice the cake. It was best when thicker and gloppier. Unlike buttercream or ganache, it wasn't good at hiding flaws, like unevenly aligned layers or a domed top.

Overall, I'd give the cake a better than average rating, but the icing does leave me scratching my head. I'd rather have a buttercream. On the other hand, I drink kräuter liqueur and red vermouth (straight).

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