If you are considering visiting Hungary, you shall keep something in mind: if you eventually do so, stop all your diets since Hungarian national cuisine does not accept any restrictions on food. Nevertheless, you will bump into plenty of vegan, vegetarian and such restaurants in Budapest and the countryside that ignores carbohydrates, which are extremely popular nowadays, even though my country’s gastronomy has a reputation of cooking and baking with a whole lot of fat and sugar. One of the best and most original such desserts in Hungary is the 135-year-old Dobos cake - or Dobostorta, how Hungarians call it. Now, I will show you how to prepare this phenomenal goody, and also where to eat the best of it. May the force be with you, it's going to be appetizing!
The whole story and origin of Dobostorta is based on a lucky coincidence. Dobos Károly József, an individual who invented Hungarians' all-time favourite cake, made a little mistake. He was known as the master of butter, yet, he accidentally put sugar in some, instead of salt, and the result was, well, surprisingly different, but still, good. Understandably, Dobos instead of throwing out the "spoiled" butter, started experimenting with it. Later on, he created the beloved buttery cream, that was a huge novelty at the end of the 19th century. The acknowledged pastry chef wanted to create a cake that would last long, even with the preservation methods of the age.
In 1885, the first Budapest National General Exhibition was held in Városliget, where Dobos had his own pavilion. Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph I and his queen, Elizabeth Wittelbach, were among the very first to taste the cake, which was quite different for the usual desserts in those days.
With the huge success of Dobostorta, everyone wanted to decipher the recipe. Dozens of Dobos cakes were bought to analyze it and find out the knack. However, except Dobos' confectioners, everyone failed. Dobos was so annoyed by the bad imitations of his cakes that eventually in 1906, he handed over the recipe of the original Dobostorta to the so-called Capital Confectioners' Guild. He only had one proviso: anyone could get to know it. At the same time, he gave up his business and sold his factory.
You should pay close attention to three very important details when it comes to the once secret recipe: the six-sponge cake layers have to be smooth, the caramel layer on the top should be firm, but also crushy, and you have to make the chocolate buttery cream, exactly like the Hungarian recipe says. It is not the most difficult cake recipe ever, but it takes quite a time to bring it to perfection.
I have tried a bunch of places since I live in Budapest, and I have to say there are plenty of good confectioneries in the city. Since I am not a food critic, I am not supposed to proclaim which are the best spots to eat classic Dobostorta, yet, I am showing you my two personal favourites.
This elegant pastry shop and café on Vörösmarty Square is a cult place with both classic and innovative pastries. I have to admit, it's pretty expensive, but in exchange, we can fly back in time until the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, when Dobostorta was first made.
Ruszwurm is the oldest confectioner dynasty in Budapest, whose cafes and pastries are still in operation. The confectionary can be found inside the Castle District, only a 15-minute walk from Buda Castle. The interior of the pastry shop, found in 1827, is puritan, popular and robust as if we returned to the 19th century. It is definitely worth a visit for a variety of pancakes, strudels and for the 135-year-old Hungarian dessert, Dobostorta itself.
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