My boyfriend's mum loves to travel to America and has been every year that I've known her. One of her favourite places to visit there is New Orleans and on one trip she brought me back a cookery book called New Orleans Classic Desserts, by Kit Wohl. So for her birthday last month I knew I wanted to make her something from that book.
There weren't that many actual cakes in the book - it includes a lot of pies and desserts - and I quickly settled on one called Doberge cake. I'd never heard of it before, but the author says it is a must for birthdays in her family, and they are bought from a particular bakery called Gambino's, to the extent that they even have them sent frozen by overnight delivery to people who don't live in New Orleans! Kit says that Doberge cake is traditionally either chocolate or lemon, but so many people can't decide and order it to be made half chocolate, half lemon, that has now become an actual variety of the cake.
The name Doberge comes from a New Orleans word, stemming from the Dobos torte made in the Alsace area of France - I've never heard of it! It tasted so good though that I may have to make this again- I'm tempted to serve up the filling as a dessert by itself!
My cake did end up being a bit lop-sided unfortunately. The chocolate filling was a lot thicker than the lemon - Kit Wohl does give a recipe for lemon curd later on in the book but I was very pressed for time so used lemon curd from a jar. The chocolate mixture was quite thick so the chocolate side of the cake was a lot higher than the lemon side- what I should have done perhaps was mix the shop-bought lemon curd into some homemade buttercream to make a thicker filling. Or just made the whole cake with the chocolate filling, as it tasted amazing!
I adapted the recipe slightly, using plain flour instead of cake flour as you can't buy anything specifically called cake flour in the UK, and the instructions are in my own words.
I made the filling first and put it in the fridge overnight.
For the filling you need:
2 1/2 tbsp cornflour
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 cup double cream
3 egg yolks
2 cups half and half - a mixture of cream and milk I think you can only get in the States, so I just used milk
180g dark chocolate,melted
1 tbsp butter, sofened
2 tsp vanilla extract
Place the cornflour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a pan and slowly stir in the cream. Place over a medium-high heat and slowly add the egg yolks while stirring the mixture. Add the milk and the melted chocolate, stirring well. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the butter and vanilla, stir and pour into a bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
For the cake
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
10 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk, or milk with a dash of lemon juice added
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 180C and grease two 9 inch cake tins.
Cream the bitter and sugar in a large bowl then separate the eggs and beat in the yolks, one at a time.
Gradually fold in the flour and baking powder alternating with the buttermilk, until all of it is mixed in. Then add the vanilla and salt.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff and then fold into the cake mixture.
Spoon into the prepared cake tins and bake for 45 minutes. Cool first in the tins then on a wire rack. When the cakes are cooled, split each in half so you have four thin layers.
If you are making a half chocolate, half lemon cake, you will also need to make the lemon filling. The book gives a recipe for lemon curd but as I was under time pressure I used lemon curd from a jar. However, this meant a very thin layer of filling while the chocolate layer was much thicker. What I would recommend if you don't have the time or inclination to make your own lemon curd is to make buttercream and mix in the shop-bought lemon curd, so you have the flavour but also the thicker filling. Spread chocolate on one half of the cake and lemon on the other and repeat for each layer.
This cake didn't look like much, mainly because the side with the chocolate filling was higher and the cake looked lopsided. So please don't leave critical comments saying it looks awful! I did add some wafer butterflies in an effort to make it look a bit prettier, I'm not sure if that really helped. But this is one of the tastiest cakes I've ever made - largely down to the chocolate filling, which tastes like a thick mousse and is ten times better than buttercream. I'm tempted to make the filling again as a dessert in itself!