American Classics: Doberge Cake

American Classics

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

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New Orleans may be best known around these parts for beignets and King Cake, but when it comes time to celebrate your birthday in the Big Easy, there's another local cake that steals the show. Known as a Doberge Cake (that's pronounced DOUGH-bash for the folks at home), this multi-layered cake is a NOLA interpretation of the classic Hungarian dobos torte. Invented by Beulah Ledner, a beloved baker in New Orleans, the Doberge Cake consists of at least six layers of cake that are filled with a lemon, chocolate, or caramel filling and then iced. The most popular combo is a half and half, featuring half lemon and half chocolate.

With a springy cake and homemade chocolate pudding and/or lemon curd filling, not to mention rich frosting, it's easy to see what this cake is much loved in its home city. As far as cakes go, it's not the hardest cake to prepare, but it does take a lot of time. Especially if you're going to go the extra step of making a half and half, which essentially requires the work of two cakes (you're making two fillings and two different frostings from scratch).

Yes, you will dirty every bowl possible making this cake. I'm an unabashed lover of chocolate and lemon and I'll advocate their pairing until my last breath, but if you're short on time or patience then do as I say and not as I do, and make your cake a single flavor and save the other for next time go round. If you're a glutton for punishment (and cake), roll up your sleeves and hit the kitchen with plenty of time to spare.

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Doberge Cake »

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