After last night’s rather comprehensive victory, the second semi-final tonight will decide which team is going to teach Germany a lesson or two about winning a match. Argentina will need some support, and I think a slice or two of this cake might just do the trick. Torta Rogel, or Alfajor Rogel, is a uniquely decadent concoction of thin, crispy layers of pastry, filled with the ubiquitous caramelized condensed milk duce de leche, and topped with Italian meringue. You can’t go wrong with that.
Alfajores are layered cakes, popular snacks all over South America as well as Spain. The word is of Arabic origins: الفاخر means ‘luxurious’ and links the origins of these type of sweets to Moorish Spain, al-Andalus, the period from the 700s to 1492 when large parts of Spain were governed by Muslim rulers.
‘Moorish’ adequately describes this dish, which is not easy to make but worth the effort. In Argentina it is often served as a wedding cake, but you need to ensure that your dress gives you a little room to expand. I found detailed instructions on Flor’s website, Recetas y Tortas YA!, and I used Flor’s recipe, especially the video of her making the cake which was very helpful. When she reminds you – repeatedly! – to roll out the dough as thin as you can, you need to heed that advice. Despite trying my best, my Rogel could have done with slightly thinner layers… but without anyone noticing, soon I will try and make another one to hide the photographic evidence of my impatience. First I have to loose the weight I gained trying this one…
Alfajor Rogel (for 5 discs of 21 cm diameter)
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- 1 tbs strong alcohol (Vodka etc.)
- 160 gr flour ‘00’
- 1 tsp salt
- 400 gr. dulce de leche
- 1 egg white
- 60 gr caster sugar
- 2 tbs water
For the pastry:
Sift the flour onto your work surface and make a hollow in the middle, in which you put the remaining ingredients. Make sure to keep one egg white for the meringue!
Knead until you have a smooth and uniform dough. Add water if necessary. Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 180-200 ° C. Flor wants you to keep it at that temperature for at least ten minutes before putting in the pastry. Cut the dough into 5 equal sized pieces. Roll out each piece until it is very thin and cut out circles. I used a cake tin and rolled out the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, to help me lift it onto the tray in one piece! Remember to roll it our very thinly …
Put the discs onto an ungreased baking sheet and use a fork to prick the dough in several places so it does not curl. Bake for 10 minutes or until they are golden brown on the edges.
I assembled the cake as the disks came out of the oven – they were still quite hot, which made it easier for me to spread the dulce de leche on them, layer after layer.
For the Italian meringue:
Beat your egg white with a hand mixer until it forms very stiff peaks. In a small pan, measure out the water and pour in the sugar right into the middle of the pan – you want to avoid any sugar crystals sticking to the sides of the pan!
Over a medium heat, and without touching or mixing, bring the water to boil. Once you can see no sugar crystals, turn up the heat and watch it bubbling away. This will take a few minutes – if you have a sugar thermometer, wait until it reaches 120C. Otherwise, just watch it bubble up for a bit and hope that the sugar has dissolved …
As soon as you think it is ready, start whisking your egg white again and pour in the syrup, trying not to pour it onto the whisks as your don’t want to be splashed with boiling hot sugar syrup. Continue until the mix has cooled down completely and has a lovely silky texture.
Pipe it onto the assembled cake and brown it for a few minutes under a hot grill.
Enjoy! And if this alfajor is not sweet enough, try your hands – or, your sweet tooth – at an Argentiniana chocotorta. I bet you can’t get any more decadent than that!