Eastside Road, December 21, 2009—INSPIRED BY SEEING the movie Julie and Julia, our friend Becky said she'd always wanted to cook a certain recipe from Lindsey's book: Dobos torte. Perfect, I said; I used to make one for Thérèse's birthday in the old days; let's get together and surprise her with one.
Well, of course, it didn't work out that way. Lindsey's retired now and has time to make such things herself. Besides, I think Becky was happy to have the chance to study at the side of the master. So while I reconstructed my user folder, lost to a poorly executed backup strategy, the women spent the afternoon making a cake.
We first met the cake in the pages of a pamphlet of Hungarian recipes, issued in a series on international cuisine that we collected from used-book stores back in the innocent 1960s. In a fit of madness Lindsey got rid of all those pamphlets years ago, but later found an assembled collection of most of them to replace them.
Needless to say, I hadn't looked at the recipe in decades. I remembered it as being layers of génoise, assembled with hazelnut buttercream, topped with caramel painfully sliced into wedges. It's not génoise, it's an egg-butter-flour cake; it's not hazelnut buttercream, it's chocolate with a few crushed hazelnuts; and it wasn't the Hungarian pamphlet, it was on page 50 of Cakes and Tortes, published by the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago, Illinois, in 1957. Lindsey adapted her version of the recipe from that source. I haven't compared the two, but of course I'd recommend her version as her book is undoubtedly more easily found.
What you do is make six thin cake layers, sandwich them with frosting, then cover the side with frosting, then pour caramel on top and quickly, while it's hot, cut it into serving-size wedges. When I made this cake I always beat the eggs by hand, with a whisk, and creamed them with the sugar, then flour the same way; but the women used an electric hand mixer today and I suppose the result was indistinguishable.
It's an absolutely delicious cake: my favorite, I think. Its textures and flavors maintain their individuality yet merge beautifully, and the finish is deep and rich. It would be delicious with a demitasse or a dram of the right liqueur, but tonight we made do with a cup of Lapsang Souchong: that wasn't bad, either.
What? Oh, right: dinner's more than cake. Becky made cabbage rolls from a recently published vegetarian cookbook; I didn't get the title. Instead of the authentic kielbasa the stuffing involves brown rice, pecans and cashews, and dates; the cabbage rolls are then baked with a tomato sauce covering. I thought them quite delicious, but couldn't eat more than two: I was looking forward to dessert. (There were seven of us at table.)
Gerwurtztraminer, J.W. Morris, 2007; Cabernet sauvignon, Chateau Souverain, 2003 (in magnum: thanks, Paul)