Doberge Cake

Celebrate Mardi Gras With This Famous 6-Layer Cake From New Orleans

slice of doberge cake with lemon and chocolate filling
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 75 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Cooling and Chilling: 7 hrs
Total: 9 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
927 Calories
52g Fat
106g Carbs
11g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 927
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 52g 67%
Saturated Fat 31g 154%
Cholesterol 241mg 80%
Sodium 602mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 106g 39%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 74g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 3mg 15%
Calcium 154mg 12%
Iron 7mg 39%
Potassium 326mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Doberge cake, a version of the famous Dobos torte, is New Orlean's very own birthday cake. The traditional Dobos torte originated in Hungary in the late 1800s when C. József Dobos, a delicatessen owner in Budapest, strived to create a cake that required no refrigeration. The New Orleans Doberge cake was adapted in the 1930s by bakery owner Beulah Ledner. The caramel topping would not fare well in the South's hot, humid weather, so it was replaced with buttercream and fondant or ganache coating. Instead of the buttercream filling, Ms. Ledner filled the cake with custard. 

The following New Orleans version of the elegant Doberge cake is layered with both lemon and chocolate fillings, then topped with chocolate buttercream and a layer of ganache. Feel free to decorate the cake as you like or leave it plain. The beauty of this cake is in the many filled layers.

Ingredients

For the Lemon Curd:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 4 large eggs

  • 4 large egg yolks 

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Chocolate Filling:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate chips, or chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Cake:

  • Cooking spray

  • 3 1/2 cups or 16 ounces (454 grams) sifted cake flour

  • 3 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup milk, room temperature

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 teaspoons hot water, as needed for consistency

For the Chocolate Ganache:

  • 12 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chips or wafers

  • 12 ounces heavy cream, about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, the instructions are broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Lemon Curd

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for lemon curd, doberge cake filling
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, whole eggs, egg yolks, and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth.

    mixing the lemon curd ingredients
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, constantly stirring, until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes.

    Lemon curd in a bowl over simmering water
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Strain the lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in the lemon zest and butter until the butter is completely melted.

    making the lemon curd with butter
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the lemon curd to prevent a tough skin from forming. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

    lemon curd filling for doberge cake
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Chocolate Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for the chocolate doberge cake filling
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar with 4 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk or stir to combine. 

    dry mixture for pudding in sauce pan
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Add 1 large egg, 1 cup heavy cream, and 1/2 cup milk. Whisk until smooth, then place the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the filling is thickened to the consistency of loose pudding, about 8 to 10 minutes. 

    making the chocolate doberge cake filling
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Remove from the heat, then stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 4 ounces chocolate, and 3 tablespoons butter until the chocolate and butter are completely melted.

    chocolate pudding for doberge cake
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, then place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the pudding mixture to prevent a tough skin from forming. Transfer the chocolate filling to the refrigerator and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

    chocolate filling for doberge cake
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

The Cake Layers

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for doberge layer cake
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 3 (8-inch) cake pans with parchment paper (cut to fit), then spray with nonstick baking or cooking spray.

    cake pans lined with parchment paper
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Sift the cake flour into a large bowl. Add the baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt; whisk to combine and set aside.

    dry cake ingredients combined in a bowl
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the 12 tablespoons of softened butter with 2 cups granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the 4 egg yolks and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

    creamed butter and sugar
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 of the milk to the batter, then beat on low speed until smooth. Repeat with another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and remaining milk. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until smooth.

    cake batter
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. In a separate bowl, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the batter with a spatula just until combined.

    egg whites are folded into the cake batter
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans (about 16 ounces in each). Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and place on the rack until completely cooled. 

    three 9-inch cakes
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  8. Carefully slice each cake layer horizontally into 2 layers and level any domed tops. You will have 6 thin layers.

    3 cakes split to make 6 layers
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  9. Place 1 layer on a cake plate and spread a layer of lemon curd over top. Place a cake layer on top of the lemon curd, then spread with a layer of chocolate pudding. Add another layer of cake, then lemon curd, cake, chocolate pudding, cake, then more lemon curd. Top with the 6th cake layer and place the cake in the fridge; chill for about 1 hour.

    6 cake layers with alternating chocolate and lemon fillings
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Chocolate Buttercream

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for chocolate buttercream
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Sift the confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and salt together into a bowl.

    cocoa and confectioners sugar sifted together
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the softened butter until creamy. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar and cocoa mixture a little at a time and beat on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and increase the speed to medium-high; beat until smooth and creamy. If too thick, add a few drops of hot water to loosen the butter.

    chocolate buttercream in a mixing bowl
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Spread the buttercream over the top and sides, smoothing with a spatula or bench scraper. Place the cake in the freezer to chill while you prepare the chocolate ganache.

    cake covered with chocolate buttercream
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for ganache
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Place the 12 ounces of chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.

    chocolate pieces in a bowl
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Combine the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until it begins to steam and bubble. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let it stand, undisturbed, for 5 minutes.

    cream and chocolate combined
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Gently, whisk or stir the chocolate and cream mixture until well blended and smooth.

    mixing the ganache
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Remove the cake from the freezer. Evenly spread the ganache over the cake, covering the top and sides. Smooth the firmed ganache with a spatula or bench scraper dipped in warm water.

    ganache-covered doberge cake
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. Chill the cake in the fridge until ready to serve. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

    6-layer doberge cake with chocolate and lemon fillings
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    How to Store and Freeze

    • Refrigerate leftover doberge cake in a covered container for up to three days.
    • The cake may be frozen. Place the cake or slices on a baking sheet, then place it in the freezer. Once the cake or slices are frozen solid, wrap them well in two layers of plastic wrap, then return to the freezer for up to three months.

    Tips

    • To get uniform baked layers, use a kitchen scale to weigh your batter, then divide that weight by the number of pans you are filling. Place each pan on the scale, press "tare" to reset the weight to zero and weigh the batter's correct amount. Even if your pans seem identical and are the same brand, they may be slightly different in weight.
    • The ratio of chocolate to cream depends on the amount of cocoa butter in the chocolate. For high-quality dark chocolate, 1:1 is a good ratio, while semisweet chocolate with less cocoa butter will require a 2:1 ratio (twice as much chocolate as cream). Ganache can always be adjusted. If too thin, add more chocolate, and if it is too thick, add more cream.
    • Use a turntable to turn the cake as you split it horizontally.
    • For evenly baked layers, make sure there is some space between pans. If rotating the pans, wait until they are about two-thirds baked through to prevent collapsing.

    How Can Cake Scraps Be Used?

    When you trim the domed tops, don't throw those scraps away. Tuck them in a bag and use them to make bread pudding or other desserts. Make cake truffles or cake pops, or press crumbs in small canning jars with layers of frosting or ice cream topping—pop them in the freezer for last-minute desserts. You can store the cake scraps in the freezer until ready to use for dessert part 2.

    Can Leftover Egg Whites Be Frozen?

    Yes, extra egg whites may be frozen in airtight containers or ice cube trays for up to three months.

    Recipe Variations

    • For moister layers, sprinkle or brush each layer with a simple syrup, plain, vanilla, or lemon flavored.
    • To make individual layers instead of splitting them horizontally, divide the cake batter among six baking pans and reduce the baking time.
    • You can omit the lemon curd and double the chocolate pudding filling.
    • Similarly, you can omit the chocolate pudding filling and double the lemon curd.
    • If time is limited, fill the layers with purchased ready-made pudding and lemon curd.