Dough-whatnow? Doberge. Doberge Cake.
It’s common knowledge that Doberge (much like many other things New Orleanians take pride in) is confidently pronounced the way your grandmother said it. Since my California (through Alabama and New Mexico) grandmother likely never uttered the word Doberge, I tend to say Doh-berj. Doh-bashj is more common down south and likely more authentic. Really… anything close to Doberge is accepted with grace and met with a slice of cake.
Any way you stumble through the word, what you’re summoning is this stunning, six or seven layer, New Orleans birthday cake. Doberge is a cake adapted from a Hungarian dobos torta (another beautiful multi-layered sponge cake) and in its modern New Orleans form is often layer after layer of moist yellow cake filled with custard and covered in buttercream (and sometimes fondant). Gambino’s Bakery carried the most classic two-flavored Doberge cake: one side filled with lemon curd, the other filled with chocolate pudding (a kooky combination but we’ll let it ride) and these days Debbie Does Doberge makes these cakes for the city in all kinds of flavor combinations.
Welp. My turn, don’t you think?
I’m calling this Dede’s Doberge Cake as an homage to the good good lady who made all of the Wilson family birthday cakes for as long as I can remember. Dede’s portrait hangs, center stage at The Bakehouse and I like to think she looks over all the baking that comes out of the kitchen here with her soft approval.
Dede never made a Doberge herself but since I have… well it’s like she has. I’m an extension of her.
On the left is Dede smiling at one of her family birthday cakes. Grandmother center. Me on the right hoping for more ice cream.
Let’s make new old traditions with this classic cake. It’s feels like more than we need but that’s the joy of it!
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Doberge Cake:
• Three layers of yellow cake that we’ll cleverly divide into six thin layers. We’ve made a lot of cake here before. If you’d like more of a step-by-step of cake batter making, see: Everybody’s Birthday Cake or Every Pan Cake Batter. The key is to cream the butter and sugar to fluffy and beat each egg very well to aerate the batter.
• Pudding to fill our cakes. You’re absolutely welcome to make pudding from scratch. I sure did whip up some instant pudding because I secretly love it. There’s something very distinct about boxed pistachio pudding and I LOVE IT but you’re welcome to make Homemade Pistachio Pudding if you’re keen.
• One big batch of buttercream frosting, half flavored with pulverized dehydrated strawberries and the other half flavored with finely ground pistachios.
• Fresh strawberries and roasted salted pistachios both for topping.
Let’s put all of the pieces together!
As with any six layer cake, this cake is a bit of a project but once you decide it’s worth it – boyhowdy is it!
I make the cake layers the day before I assemble and frost the cake. I find it’s easiest to slice through each cake layer after they’ve been thoroughly chilled in the refrigerator overnight.
To slice each cake layer in half, I use a serrated bread knife and a rotating cake stand. I find a comfortable place to rest my arm and hold the knife in the center of the cake and I use the cake stand to rotate and slice the cake. I inch my still arm towards the cake, rotating and slicing.
We’re humans and we’re wonky, just do you best. If human error is something you don’t enjoy, there’s always this cake slicer from Wilton.
Divide each of the three cake layers in half yielding 6 fine cake layers.
We’ll top each cake with a buttercream border (this is optional but keeps things neat and tidy) as well as creamy chilled pudding.
Let’s set ourselves up for success. I’m using:
• the rotating cake stand of course (Add a cake board or a round platter if you’d like.)
• two small off-set spatulas to spread the pudding and eventually frost the outside of the cake.
Pudding is by far my favorite cake filling. It has this special way of melding the cake layers together with flavor without being overly sweet.
Spread half of the first cake layer with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of pistachio pudding.
And the second half with the same amount of strawberry pudding.
Can you see how this is going to go? Back and forth forever – piping and spreading half and half.
Traditionally we keep each half of the cake as separate flavors but you surely have my permission to alternate flavor sides if you have two flavors that marry well.
Assembling this cake is a meditation.
Top with the final cake layer, push the pudding bowls to the side, and bring out the buttercreams.
(If you have a few moments to spare. Now is a great time to rest the cake in the refrigerator to allow the pudding layers to set before frosting with buttercream. Not entirely necessary but if you find yourself fighting with your cake, definitely give it a timeout in the fridge.)
Smear, spread, pile, dollop buttercream across the top and sides of the cake.
A pep talk on How To Frost A Cake here, if you need one.
It quickly becomes just the prettiest cake.
I switched to a large off-set spatula to really put the work in.
And used the rest of my frosting in the piping bag to make a little border across and around the cake.
Top with sliced strawberries, coarsely chopped pistachios, sprinkles if you have them!
Anything you’d like!
And Dede watches over our masterpiece. I know she’s proud. I can see it in her eyes.Print
A twist on a classic New Orleans Doberge Cake. Six layers or tender yellow cake filled with pudding and topped with buttercream frosting.
For the Cake Layers:
- 4 1/2 cups (508 grams) bleached cake flour
- 1 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks, 339 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (369 grams) whole milk
For the Filling:
- Prepared strawberry pudding*, chilled
- Prepared pistachio pudding, chilled
For the Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks, 339 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (about 70 degrees or so)
- 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 2 tablespoons whole milk, warm
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup dehydrated strawberry powder made from dehydrated strawberries in a spice grinder
- 1/3 cup very finely ground roasted salted pistachios
- TO BAKE THE CAKE: Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease three 9-inch round cake pans. I like to use nonstick baking spray that has a bit of flour in it. If you want even more insurance that your cakes will come out of the pans, line each cake pan bottom with a parchment paper round and lightly grease that too.
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with electric hand beaters, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl. I know this seems like a lot of tedious mixing but this step really helps create a soft and tender cake crumb. Beat in vanilla.
- Add half of the flour mixture to egg mixture beating on low speed. Stream in the milk with the mixer on low speed until just combined. The batter may look curdled. That’s ok! Add the remaining half of flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Increase the mixer to high speed and beat for 1 minute.
- Divide batter evenly among the prepared cake pans.
- Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire racks while they’re still warm. I like to wrap my cakes in plastic wrap while they’re still warm. Let them come to room temperature then refrigerate overnight.
- While the cake bakes and cools PREPARE THE PUDDING filling according to the package directions. I opted for instant pudding and chilled it for at least 30 minutes before using it in the cake. Also see notes below.
- TO MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM: In the bowl or a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter on low speed just to break it up and soften it around the bowl. Stop the mixer and press all of the butter out of the mixing paddle. Add the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined.
- As soon as the butter and powdered sugar are mixed, add the warm whole milk. Mix using the lowest speed for about 1 minute and increase the speed to high for 10 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix on low for another 10 seconds to complete the buttercream. Use a spatula to see if your frosting is a spreadable consistency, adding a splash more warm milk as you might need.
- Divide the frosting between two bowls. Add strawberry powder and food coloring (if using) to one bowl and pistachio meal and food coloring (if using) to the second bowl. Stir to combine. Cover and leave at room temperature until ready to frost.
- TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKES: When the cakes are thoroughly chilled, gently slice each layer in half horizontally, making 6 thin layers. I find that a serrated knife and rotating cake stand help in slicing even layers but see blog post for more tips. Set aside each cake layer.
- One option is to pipe frosting onto the outside edge of each cake layer to seal in the pudding. This is an optional step but is pictured above. If you’re going to pipe the edges, spoon about 1/2 – 2/3 cup of each frosting into disposable piping bags fitted with Wilton 10 tips (or something similar). Pipe the edge of half of the cake with strawberry frosting and the edge other edge of the cake with pistachio frosting.
- Spoon about 1/4- 1/3 cup of strawberry pudding across half of the layer cake (along the side you might have piped strawberry buttercream) and spoon an equal amount of pistachio pudding across the other half of the cake. See photos above for visuals.
- Place another cake layer atop the pudding and repeat the buttercream border / pudding process until you reach your final top cake layer.
- Use an offset spatula to spread strawberry buttercream across the top and sides of half of the cake, repeating with pistachio buttercream on the other half.
- Top with fresh strawberries and chopped pistachios. Pipe borders if you’d like. Have a blast! Chill the cake for at least two hours before serving. This cake should be stored, wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
* I’ve used Strawberry Cream Instant Pudding OR I’ve used Vanilla Instant Pudding that I’ve added 1/3 cup of pureed fresh strawberries to along with a few drops of food coloring.
Photos with Hannah McSwain.