Monday, March 31, 2008

March 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge #17: Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake

Now I know the best reason for becoming Daring Baker’s member, I have a chance to try something new, and if there is no challenge I didn’t make this kind of cake. Not that I don’t like it but I rarely make buttercream (due to one reason that my nephew don’t like it so if I make a cake with buttercream, he refuses to take even one bite). So, buttercream is not common for me. Anyway I wait for the last day until I decide to give it a try, and if I have to try one recipe Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, is the one. I just finish it yesterday, with a lot of compliment from my family, they love it (ok, my nephew didn’t eat it anyway, but I make other thing for him). The cake is very good with a fine crumb, and good texture. The bettercream is very easy to make and hold its shape very well; it’s so much fun to making this challenge.

Lemon gives this cake a lovely taste, and I think a little tangy is the reason why my mom has a second piece.

Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

Makes 9 inch cake

For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre 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.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together 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.
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.
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
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).

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.
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.
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.
On medium speed, gradually beat in more 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.

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.
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.


  1. Your basket weave design is simply gorgeous. The cake looks amazing! Well done!

  2. Your cake looks so professional! It is amazing!

  3. Your cake really is a prefect cake! Really professional, and flawless :) Well done!

  4. The basket weave is amazing, what a great job!
    Very good choice of decor for the type of cake!

  5. The basket weave on this cake is picture perfect! I so respect anyone who can decorate cakes like that. Well done on your challenge this month!

  6. That's so beautiful! I love how you decorated it.

  7. You are a pro decorator, that looks amazing!!!

  8. Your cake is stunning! The pipings are impressive :) Great job!

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Your cake is lovely! That basketweave design is beautiful.

    Julius from Occasional Baker

  10. Wow! You definetely deserve more than 9 comments. I love your lattice icing. So gorgeous. Well done!

  11. Totally adorable piping job...your cake is just tall and perfect!

  12. Wow, you did the basket weave?? Great going!!! :)Looks pretty.

  13. I love the icing! You've spent some good amount of time doing that. Looks like a cake from a fairy tale! :)

  14. Pook, I adore the basket-weave piping, it looks amazing! Your step-by-step pictures are fun to look at, as well.

    I did enjoy the tangy lemon taste. Having missed the lemon meringue pie challenge, I was glad this included lemon flavoring as an option.

    Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

  15. I love your piping! It's so professional :)

  16. Beautiful decorating job! I'm learning new tips from daring bakers all the time :)

  17. The weave pattern is absolutely beautiful! Actually, I feel a neck ache just by looking at it!! But it's definitely worth the pain haha! Hope I can pipe as well as you one day!

  18. How beautiful the weave on the sides of the cake. Well done!

  19. Your cake looks amazing! I love the pretty decoration! Very well done...



  20. Your cake is simply beautiful!!! Congratulations on your challenge.. and your basket weave is to die for!!! wish I had your skills!

  21. I love your basketweave on the icing. Glad your family liked it...always fun with other people get seconds! Fantastic.

  22. Oh My... this is beautiful.
    The lattace is really perfectly done.

  23. Hi Pook,
    Your cake is lovely. I use this recipe except for the cake part to make my MIL's birthday cake. The buttercream is really stable as I do the basketweave on the cake which I wasn't able to do with other cream. What's this buttercream called? swiss or italian?

  24. Hi, Delia
    This one is a swiss meringue buttercream.

  25. Dear Delia,
    Your cake looks wonderful!! Anyway, I wonder if you used just egg whites for the cake? not the whole eggs?

  26. Hi, Nattha,
    First of all I'm Pook ^^
    This cake use only egg white (or you can call it white buttercake).



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