We have recently realized that we are big fans of Dobos Torte, a classic Hungarian cake composed of thin layers of cake and chocolate. After having a supremely delicious Dobos Torte at Ovy Bakery in Skokie, we were pleased to find out that there was a bakery that specializes in Dobos Torte right in our neck of the woods – Farkas Pastry Shoppe (2700 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, OH). Farkas is an old-school Cleveland institution that has been around for 50 years, not really changing much in the process (which in terms of a bakery is a good thing!). Farkas specializes in Hungarian and Eastern European cakes and sweets including Esterházy Torte (an almond and apricot layered cake), Nut Rolls, and Linzer Tortes. Another great pick at Farkas is the Kréme, a Hungarian take on a Napoleon, which is vanilla creme between two sheets of puff pastry.
However, we were there specifically for the Dobos Torte (pictured above), so we made a beeline to the cakes. There is a special case at Farkas specifically for cakes – and you can get either a whole or half Dobos Torte ($25 for a whole). We bought a half cake to bring to a friend’s house, and with 5 pre-cut slices, it was perfectly portioned for the occasion. The Dobos Torte was delicious, and a little different from the traditional formulation since it had a marzipan top layer instead of caramel. The cake was a big hit at dinner – and we were impressed by the flavors as well as the expertly even layers. If you haven’t tried Hungarian pastries or cakes yet, Dobos Torte is a perfect introduction!
As you can tell from our blog, we are big on sweets so we decided to keep the momentum going with a Chicago-area Romanian find. Ovy Bakery (3455A W Dempster, Skokie, IL) is so unassuming, if you blink you’ll miss it for two reasons: 1. it is located in a completely nondescript strip mall and 2. there is a big sign reading “La Patisserie” outside from the bakery’s former incarnation. I only noticed Ovy because I was intrigued by the “Transylvanian” sign in the window – not a common sight. Ovy Bakery is small, and when we visited it was pretty crowded! There were 2 sections of pastries in the glass case: traditional Romanian and more modern French-inspired creations. Chef Ovidiu Pop, the eponymous “Ovy,” who is of Romanian extraction, honed his pastry skills by working at Blackbird and the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, which explains the mashup of Romanian and other European styles.
We were bringing dessert to a friend’s house for dinner so we decided to sample five different pastries from both categories (clockwise from top right):
- Amandine – This is one for the rum lovers – a chocolate covered chocolate cake that had been soaked in rum. beware – it is very strong.
- Dobos Torte – This is a classic Eastern European cake that is composed of thin layers of chocolate buttercream and yellow sponge cake. Ovy’s was a perfect rendition that equally blended both varieties, which complemented each other perfectly, with neither flavor dominating. A creative new twist was the crunchy, caramelized top
- Honey Cake (seen at the bottom of the page) – This was similar to the Dobos torte in appearance, and featured delicate layers of honey cake, pastry cream and apricot jam. It had a faint graham cracker flavor, which was both delicious.
- Creme – This dessert looked simple, but had a very unique taste – it was puff pastry filled with a vanilla cream that tasted more like a gelatinous zabaglione than pastry cream. Though the texture was a bit unusual, it was still very good!
- From the modern side we sampled a Passion Fruit Mousse on a cookie base, which was exquisitely presented, and tasted even better.
I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of Ovy Bakery. They even offer catering for savory Romanian dishes, and other tidbits like breads (the most popular seemed to be the sweet bread Cozonac) and doughnuts. If you are in the mood for something a little different to bring to a dinner party, these pan-European treats from Ovy will definitely impress your guests