Around the world in 80 bakes, no.42: Mađarica, layer cake from Croatia

Around the world in 80 bakes, no.42: Mađarica, layer cake from Croatia

Continuing with the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s coffee-and-cake tradition, here’s a cake from Croatia that deserves to be close to the top of the best-seller list, particularly with a coffee after a brisk morning winter walk (I speak from immediate experience). 

In point of fact, Mađarica (or Madjarica, if you prefer to avoid the “d with stroke”) is the Croatian word for “Hungarian girl”, and the cake bears a distinct resemblance to the Hungarian Dobos torte, created in 1885 for the National General Exhibition of Budapest. Who knows (or, for that matter, who cares) which came first?

Croatians seem to bake this cake for the thousands: all the recipes I came across were for seriously large quantities. I went for this recipe from Tamara Novacoviç and halved it, which still made for a generous cake.

Mađarica is one of those multi-layer cakes where you’re trying to get the layers as thin as you possibly can. Croatian recipes tend to assume that you’re using a standard cake tin and baking the layers one at a time. Since you’re trying to make a rectangular cake, I figure it’s easier to use large flat tins (Swiss roll tins or similar) and then cut the layers to size after baking.  Obviously, how you tackle this is going to depend on what tins you have available.

Filling

  • 25g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 500ml milk
  • 100g sugar
  • vanilla extract or paste to taste
  • 25g dark chocolate
  • 90g butter
  • ½ tbsp rum
  1. Mix the flour and cocoa powder in a bowl and set aside. Have a balloon whisk ready.
  2. Put the milk, sugar and vanilla into a saucepan and bring to the boil. When just boiling, take it off the heat, pour about a quarter of it into the bowl with the flour and cocoa powder, and whisk until thoroughly dissolved.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return the saucepan to the heat. Add the chocolate, reduce the heat and keep whisking until the mixture thickens.
  4. Take the mixture off the heat, give it a minute or so to cool slightly, then add the butter and whisk until thoroughly melted.
  5. Stir in the rum.
  6. Cover (to avoid too much skin forming – you can’t avoid having a bit) and leave to cool while you make the rest of the cake.

Cake layers

  • 300g plain flour
  • ½ tsp (2g) baking powder
  • 1 egg white
  • 90g sour cream
  • 90 g sugar
  • 90g butter, at room temperature

I’m going to confess at this point (in case it isn’t obvious from the photos) that I wimped out: I had two 33x22cm Swiss roll tins ready but I didn’t dare roll the dough thin enough to use more than one of them. I should have had the courage to use both – my layers are definitely twice the thickness they should be – so that’s what I recommend that you do.

  1. Preheat oven to 180℃.
  2. Prepare two 33cm x 22cm Swiss roll tins (or whatever other baking trays you have) by greasing them and lining them with baking paper.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into cubes and put it with the sugar, sour cream and egg white into the bowl of your mixer; beat until smooth.
  5. Add the flour mixture and knead to a smooth dough. Add a bit more sour cream or water if your dough is too crumbly.
  6. Now the tricky part: divide the dough into two, and roll each half  thinly enough to spread out evenly over its baking tin. It’s probably easiest to do this by rolling the dough between two sheets of baking paper. Transfer your rolled dough to the tin.
  7. Bake for around 8-10 minutes.
  8. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Assembly and glaze

  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 25g butter
  • 20g sunflower oil (or other neutral oil)
  1. Cut each cake/biscuit layer into three, using a ruler or measuring tape to make pieces that are as close to identical in size as you possibly can.
  2. Place the first layer on your serving plate.
  3. Spread around one fifth of the filling evenly over the layer, then add the next layer. Repeat this four more times to build up your cake.
  4. Melt the chocolate and butter together (30s in a microwave should do this fine, if you can’t be bothered to wash up a double boiler).
  5. Add the oil and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, making sure that you cover the whole cake with an even layer of glaze. Some of the glaze will have dripped over the sides: if you want, even this off with a palette knife.
  7. Refrigerate for several hours (or overnight) until the glaze hardens.
  8. Cut the cake into rectangles to serve.

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