Sunday, 30 March 2008

Daring Baker 2 - Perfect Party Cake

I completed this month's daring baker challenge about 3 weeks ago and have left it to the last minute to get the post written up.... typical me! I made it so early because I knew that this month held very little opportunity to get my youth group to help finish it off what with Easter holidays etc. We have a monthly fun night so it only seemed right to bring the Perfect Party Cake to that!!! This recipe was taken from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: from my home to yours which I'm thinking I may need to invest in after this challenge and also from seeing what the Tuesdays with Dorie group do each week!

I just finished it 5 minute before I was meant to leave so I took a few rushed photos... the very first being this one with Stewie poking his head in to see what's happening!

I've read reports on other daring bakers attempts at this challenge and some even having to try it 3 or 4 times to get it right.... I must be very flukey cos it all worked first time for me! It was delicious, I'm really wanting to do this again and edit the flavourings for my birthday next month!

Daring Bakers - Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

Servings: depends how much people would like but I got about 16 - 20 slices out of mine!


For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

1. To make the cake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
3. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
4. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
5. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
6. To make the Buttercream, put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
7. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat. Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
8. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
9. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
10. To assemble the cake, using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
11. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

A great challenge from Morven this month! Thanks! And thanks to Rosie for helping me work out the whole cake flour thing, you're a star!

You can check out all the other fab creations on the Daring Bakers Blogroll. There are some great cakes!


  1. The hungry dog along side your beautiful cake really makes it perfect! The cake really looks amazing!


    Hmmmm I wonder how hard it would be to send you one.....

  3. Good job, nice to know you had a great opportunity to share the cake!

  4. The cake looks lovely! Congrats on completing another challenge!

  5. Thanks L Vanel! He really loved the cake too!

  6. Wow. What a stunning cake! (and a rather lovely nose too!) x

  7. Hey Kate.... making a cake would be a fun present to myself! You're so sweet wanting to send me one!!!! Have you made up your wish list of goodies for me to send you?

    Hey baking soda, welcome to my blog! It was a fab opportunity and in fact they've requested to have it again!

    Hey Jerry! Thank you! Can't wait for the next one now!

    Thanks English Mum! It not only looks stunning, it tasted stunning.... Stewie would be more than happy to tell you! It really is hard to say no to such a cute face!

  8. Great cake! Looks beautiful! Did you use candies on the top? They look adorable!

  9. Beautiful job! It looks wonderful!

  10. Well done Ruth, your cake looks great!

  11. Hey Gretchen Noelle, thanks for stopping by my blog! I didn't use candles, but I decorated it with little jelly lemon and orange slices... it worked well with the lemon in the cake.

    Thanks Deborah!

    Thanks Pixie!

  12. I am drooling over your stunning cake Ruth!! I just adore the little cute orange & lemon decs around the cake!! Well done on a perfect bake :)

    Rosie x

  13. Oh Ruth that cake looks fantastic, well done sweetie :-)

    Dell xo

  14. Thank you Rosie!!! You're so sweet.

  15. Thank you Dell! You should sign up to Daring Bakers you know!!!!

  16. I'll bet the kids loved seeing this cske walk in! It's lovely!
    And I always like making my birthday cake too.

  17. Your cake looks great. I can tell you that Dorie's book is a really good one. The pictures alone are worth it.

    When I was young I was called Ruthie Baby. I guess it comes from the candy bar.

  18. They sure did Megan! the loved it even more when I sliced into it to!!!

    Thanks Molly.... I'm glad of yet another recommendation! I really will get it soon!

  19. such a lovely lovely cake you made here dear!! great job!! it isnt easy making one! cant wait to see your succeeding creations for our next challenges :-)

  20. You made a great job of your cake. Looks like Stewie thinks so too.

  21. Thanks Dhanggit! I'm excited for the next challenge!

    Hi Morven! Stewie loved this.... he even got a slice of his own! Thanks for a great challenge again!

  22. Beautiful job with this month's challenge Ruth. I'm with you... I'm making this one as my birthday cake (I don't mind making my own...spending time in the kitchen and then sharing the goodness with others IS joy to me).

    Happy birthday a bit early.

  23. Thanks Dolores! I'm looking forward to it!

  24. Well done! I like the candy garnishes.

  25. Ruth your cake turned out perfect!


  26. Thanks Tracy! I loved them too.... kept them to the last bite!

    Thank you Maria!!! I'm looking forward to making it again!

  27. That cake looks so delicious. I am glad it worked for you the first time. The only problem I had was that it didn't rise as I was expecting, but it was tall enough to work with it. What a fun challenge this was.


  28. Hey ben! I must have been very lucky. Seems like a lot of ppl had problems with this one.

  29. You did a very lovely job on your cake!

    Natalie @ gluten A Go Go


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