What is Doberge, you say? You look it up in a french dictionary and the word is not there. How do you pronounce it? (I say dough-bearj; some say dough-bosh or dough-boj.)
Doberge cake is an iconic staple of living in New Orleans. It is a yummy multi-layered cake with pastry cream inside and a poured glaze on the outside. You can order one for yourself here:
Traditional flavors are chocolate, lemon and caramel. But how did this deliciously delicate delight come to be? I did a little research and learned a few things myself.
Back in the 1930's there was a New Orleans woman named Beulah Ledner, who came from a baking family in Germany. She started baking during the Depression to supplement the income from her husband's furniture business. Experimenting in her kitchen, she came up with a variation on the famed Hungarian-Austrian dobos torta, which was thin layers of sponge cake filled with butter cream. She changed that to thin layers of butter cake with a custard filling, either chocolate or lemon.
This was a cake that was subtly rich and lighter than the original, and better suited to the New Orleans climate. But its inventor recognized that "dobos" wouldn't fly in New Orleans. She thought it should be "Frenchified" to fit the city's style. And so the name "doberge" was born.
The business was first known as Mrs. Charles Ledner Bakery and was based in her home. Eventually she moved to a store front. A heart attack caused Beulah Ledner to sell the bakery, the name and the recipes to the Joe Gambino family in 1946. The agreement forbade her from operating another bakery in Orleans Parish for five years. But she could not stay away, and 2 years later opened another business in a neighboring parish (ie county) called Beulah Ledner Bakery. Beulah Ledner worked until she was 87 and sold Beulah Ledner Bakery in 1981. She died at 93, her culinary legacy intact.
Gambino's Bakery is another icon of New Orleans, more famous for the doberge cake than Beulah. Many think that it originated there, but now we know better!
No one knows the original recipe except for Gambino's , but here is a recipe we found on the Internet that my best friend Heather has made with good success. The only difference is that an authentic doberge cake has a poured glaze icing, not a spread on one:
CHOCOLATE DOBERGE CAKE
2 cups cake flour sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs separated whites beaten until stiff
1 cup buttermilk
2 squares unsweetened chocolate melted
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups evaporated milk
2 squares semisweet chocolate
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons flour
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 ounces bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 300.
Grease and flour 2 round cake pans.
In a medium bowl sift flour, soda and salt 3 times.
Cream margarine and sugar in a large mixing bowl then add egg yolks one at a time.
Gradually alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk then add chocolate and mix well by beating about 3 minutes.
Fold in the three beaten egg whites, vanilla and almond extract.
Bake 45 minutes.
Allow cake to completely cool then split each layer into thirds to make six thin layers.
Put milk and chocolate in a saucepan and heat until chocolate is melted.
In a bowl combine sugar and flour.
Make a paste by adding hot milk chocolate by tablespoons to the sugar and flour and then return to saucepan.
Stir over medium heat until thick.
Add 4 egg yolks all at once and stir rapidly to completely blend.
Cook 3 minutes longer.
Remove from heat then and add butter, vanilla and almond extract.
Cool and spread on cake layering as you go.
Do not spread on top layer.
Combine sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil stirring constantly.
Reduce heat and simmer 6 minutes without stirring.
Remove from heat and blend in chocolate.
Add butter and vanilla and return to medium low heat cooking 2 minutes.
Place in refrigerator to cool.
Beat well and then spread on top and sides of the cake.
Now, we all know I am a fan of short cuts. Don't get me wrong, taste is critically important to me, but if I can find a way to get excellent results with a little less work, I am all over that. So in my laziness, um, I mean, thriftiness, I have created a "doctored" version that Heather teasingly calls my Faux-berge cake.
Sharon's Fauxberge Chocolate Cake
2 layers of your favorite doctored cake recipe in white or yellow
Jello pudding cups premade chocolate pudding
Chocolate buttercream icing
Torte each cake layer into 3 thinner layers. Spread a thin layer of pudding in between each layer. (Premade cups have a better consistency than making the pudding in the box.) And it's easier!! MWAHAHAHA.
Here are the 6 layers of cake on a 1/2 inch fomecore board. You will need to cover the fomecore with something appropriate to make it food safe. This was for family so I threw caution to the wind.
Ice to the edge of the fomecore with a layer of chocolate buttercream and chill in fridge until firm.
Now this next step is NOT necessary and I usually do not do it. However, this puppy was a huge 15 inch cake and rather unstable. So I gave it a coating of thick ganache (made with a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream.) You let the ganache thicken to a paste consistency and ice the cake with your spatula and bench scraper just like you do for buttercream. It sets up nice and firm to give you a stable chocolate "shell" encasing the layers. That top ledge of chocolate you can see in the picture was removed with my palette knife after the cake was fully chilled, but before I poured the thinner ganache layer on top.
Wanna see something scary?.........................
Here is my ganache pouring set up. (Pretend you don't see that pile of laundry on the chair, kay?) From bottom to top: cookie sheet lined with foil, fondant bucket wrapped in plastic wrap for food safety, piece of non skid stuff, cooling rack, piece of non-skid, and chilled cake on its fomecore board. When the iced cake is fully chilled, then you pour the final ganache coating on. That's a LOT of ganache for this huge a$$ cake! My friend Jacque has a great tutorial on how to pour ganache on her fabulous blog Daisy Lane Cakes. Thanks Jacque, you rock!
OK, wanna see something even more scary?......................
Moving that huge cake with wet ganache into the lowest shelf of my fridge where it barely fits without messing it up! Stress! I need a drink.
I let that ganache firm up overnight. Next day I took it out the fridge (fairly easy now that it is firm) and placed it on the display board, piped a border and placed the edible photo on top. This was for my sister in law's dad's 85th birthday bash. Everyone went nuts over this cake, in both looks and taste. I was even told it was better than Gambino's! Shhh, don't tell I cheated.
And here is a picture of the cake after serving. This photo was taken with D's cell phone. Don't think we'll be getting any blog awards with this one! LOL
So there you have it, class. Your lesson on the New Orleans Doberge cake. Your assignment is to go make one of these beauties and tell me how you like it! Enjoy!