Doberge cake (pronounced ‘dobash’ cake) is popular in New Orleans, Louisiana.
It originally hails from a Hungarian recipe called Dobos torte and it’s made with lots of thin layers of sponge split and sandwiched together with pudding-like custard filling.
Completely irresistible and bursting with fresh lemony flavours, this Doberge cake is an absolute treat and a true taste of authentic Southern baking. Watch Tarek make Lemon Doberge cake here:
Lemon Doberge Cake
Like the chocolate Doberge, this cake made with lemon also hails from New Orleans, where it's common for bakeries to sell half a lemon cake and half a chocolate cake placed together, to form a single mix-and-match Doberge.
Makes one 20cm (8in) cake, to slice as desired
For the lemon custard:
270g (9 ½ oz) caster sugar
3 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp plain flour
Pinch of salt
350ml (12fl oz) cold water
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
30g (1oz) unsalted butter
Zest of 2 lemons
80ml (3fl oz) fresh lemon juice
For the cake:
3 large egg whites
300g (10 ½ oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
170g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened
140g (5oz) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
60ml (2fl oz) fresh lemon juice
120ml (4fl oz) whole milk
For the lemon frosting:
255g (9oz) full-fat cream cheese, such as Philadelphia, cold
560g (1Ib 3oz) icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp finely chopped lemon zest
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp lemon extract
Three 20cm (8in) diameter loose-bottomed sandwich tins
- To make the lemon custard, combine the sugar, cornflour, plain flour and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the cold water and cook on a medium heat until the mixture thickens and bubbles, stirring frequently, then cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Put the beaten egg yolks into a bowl and slowly pour in about a third of the hot flour and sugar mixture in order to warm up the egg yolks. Stir quickly so that the yolks do not cook. Pour the warmed-up yolks into the remaining flour and sugar mixture in the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Stir constantly and cook for 2-3 more minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, lemon zest and fresh lemon juice and mix well. Scrape into a bowl, cover with cling film, pressing it directly onto the surface to prevent a skin forming, and cool to room temperature - do not stir further.
- To make the cake, preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F), Gas mark 4. Line the three tins with non-stick baking parchment.
- Using a freestanding electric mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand-held electric whisk, beat the egg whites to stiff peak stage. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt three times.
- Using the electric mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for 5 minutes on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and lemon extracts and the egg yolks and mix until well incorporated.
- In a jug, mix together the lemon juice and milk. Add to the creamed mixture with the dry ingredients, alternating in thirds, mixing after each addition. Only mix until each ingredient is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often. After the final addition, mix well for another minute until smooth and light. Fold in the egg whites by hand.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the sponges are golden brown and bounce back when lightly touched. Cool the sponges in the tins for about 10 minutes, and then turn out to cool completely on wire racks.
- To make the frosting, using a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric whisk, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy - do not overbeat or the cream cheese will split. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla and lemon extracts.
- To assemble the cake, cut each cake in half horizontally so that you end up with six thin layers. It's best to use a serrated knife and a sawing motion. Gently cut around the edge of the cake first and then through the centre.
- Place one layer on a plate or cake card, then put 3-4 tablespoons of custard on top and spread evenly over the layer. Cover with the other half of the same cake. Continue spreading custard between the layers and sandwiching them together, but don't put custard on the sixth layer. Cover with cling film and put into the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Finally, spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. The cake is best if cooled for a few more hours or overnight, but remove the cake from the fridge at least 2 hours before serving.
Recipe taken from Life is Sweet: 100 original recipes for happy home baking by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers (Fourth Estate, 2015)
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