Although the impact of Spanish and Italian immigration on Argentina’s customs, language and foods is often cited, German immigrants have also contributed in a significant way to Argentine culture. Armed with a strong baking tradition, new German arrivals introduced a number of cakes and pastries to the Argentine culinary repertoire, one of which is Torta de Ochenta Golpes.
The cake’s Spanish name, Torta de Ochenta Golpes, results from a direct translation of the original name in German: Achtzig Schlag. Meaning “eighty blows” or “eighty punches,” the cake’s moniker stems from the fact that the dough is kneaded rather violently by pummelling it or throwing it against the counter eighty times.
While the typical recipe for Torta de Ochenta Golpes contains raisins and nuts (usually walnuts, almonds or a combination of the two), variations on the classic include a version with dulce de membrillo (quince paste) and a plain version that omits the raisins and nuts altogether.
- 30 gm fresh yeast (also called compressed or cake yeast)
- 3 tbsp warm water (100ºF to 110ºF)
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 7 tbsp (just under 1 stick) pareve margarine, softened
- scant 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup warm pareve almond or soy milk
- 1 egg
- 4 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp pareve margarine [reserve remaining margarine to prepare cake pan]
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 c. chopped walnuts or almonds, toasted
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- 2 generous pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or almonds, toasted
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, and then add the sugar and flour to create a thick paste. Leave the mixture to rise and bubble for 10 to 15 minutes.
Whisk together the margarine and sugar in a large bowl. Add the soy or almond milk and continue to beat the mixture briefly. [Note: Do not be concerned about the chunks of margarine floating in the soy/almond milk. They will disappear as you continue to work with the dough.] Add the yeast sponge and the egg, and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Slowly incorporate the flour, stirring until the dough comes together into a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface, and work in any stray bits of dough or flour with your hands. Pick up and slam the dough against the work surface 80 times or until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a bowl and allow it to rise in a warm place, covered with a kitchen towel, for about 45 minutes.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle to a thickness of about 1/4″. Brush the dough with melted margarine, and then sprinkle it with the sugar, nuts, spices, and raisins. Roll up the dough into a log, starting from the long side, and cut it with a serrated knife into 3/4″-thick pieces.
Brush the bottom of the cake pan with the remainder of the melted margarine. Place the rolls in the cake pan, leaving a bit of space between them for expansion as they rise. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about an hour or until doubled in volume. Sprinkle the top with a few pinches of sugar and the remaining nuts.
Bake in an oven preheated to 350° F for approximately 40 minutes or until the cake is golden brown. Cover with aluminium foil if the top is browning too quickly. Remove the cake from the pan while still hot, and allow it to cool before serving.