One of the great fad desserts of the 19th century, the Dobostorta, Dobos torta or ‘torte Dobosh’ was invented by the famous Hungarian confectioner Jozsef C. Dobos in 1884. Dobos owned a far-famed shop in Budapes,t that specialized in gourmet foods generally: at a time when shipping food over distance was usually unreliable, his shop routinely featured as many as sixty imported cheeses, as well as foreign wines, breads, and occasionally cakes.

The fame of the torte to which Dobos gave his name was probably at least partly due to its extravagant use of chocolate buttercream / buttercreme, at a time when most cakes were iced or filled with cooked creams, whipped creams, or custards. Dobos had brought the buttercream recipe back with him from one of his many exploratory journeys – in this case, a trip to France – and shortly thereafter introduced the cake at the National General Exhibition of Budapest in 1885, as well as featuring it in his shop. Due to all this publicity (for it became a favorite of the Emperor and Empress of Austro-Hungary), people in cities across Europe began clamoring for it: but Dobos refused to license out the recipe. Instead Dobos developed a special container in which it could be safely shipped, and “the cake with the secret recipe” soon started appearing in all the great European capitals. In fact, Dobos actually toured with the cake, personally introducing it in city after city, until the early 1900’s, when he retired.

The cake itself is straightforward to make. It involves either five or seven individually baked layers and these must never be sliced from a single cake: chocolate buttercream made with the best available chocolate: and a layer of caramel-glazed cake on top. Commercially available versions may taste nice enough, but cease to become authentic the moment there are more than five layers.