Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Bakers' March Challenge - Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake


When Lis reminded me that it was my turn to host and therefore choose the recipe for March's Daring Bakers Challenge I didn't have to think at all about what source the recipe would come from; the only question was what to choose. If course I am talking about Dorie Greenspan and her wonderful book Baking from my home to yours. My first choice would have been Dorie's Most Extra Ordinary French Lemon Cream Tart but we had recently had lemon meringue pie as a challenge. Instead I chose a recipe that had some room for personalisation; Dorie's Perfect Party Cake on page 250. Dorie's original has seedless raspberry preserves and lemon buttercream between the layers and the cake is finished off with more buttercream and coconut. For my version I stuck with the lemon flavourings and used lemon curd as the filling. Ideally it would have been a great use for all those leftover egg yolks but that was in the too hard basket for me this time around so I opted for store bought stuff which in this recipe actually worked really well.

A few Daring Bakers had some problems with the recipe on account of my poor proof-reading skills - it really does help when you have all the ingredients listed and the correct amounts of the aforementioned ingredients don't you?

Often with our Daring Baker's challenges the biggest part of the challenge is to follow the recipe EXACTLY as written; exceptions to this being unavailability of products or allergies. This month though I decided to let the Daring Bakers loose and allowed them freedom with shape, size, colour and filling/flavouring. The results I've seen so far have been very imaginative and some of the bakers really had fun with decorations and alternative ingredients. Two outstanding efforts were the baker who made a cake in the shape of a lamb and one very daring baker who thought bacon might be an exciting addition. Bacon? In cake? You be the judge. You can read about it on Leah's blog I Came to Eat. Check out the other Daring Bakers on the Daring Bakers'Blogroll.


So how did I get on making my cake?

Mis en place - who doesn't!


Getting ready - note my shiny new Kenwood mixer and my colour co-ordinated utensils. I'd like to say it's on purpose but apart from my measuring spoons the lime green (my favourite colour) accent on my Tupperware is a happy coincidence


Getting ready to bake


Ready for the oven


The baked cakes - do you like my lime green froggy mitt? It's silly but surprisingly useful


Making the Swiss meringue buttercream


Health and Safety lesson - do not bake without shoes. The boiling water on the bottom of my simmering meringue dripped on top of my foot as I was transferring the meringue to my Kenwood bowl and left me with a small but minor burn


The cooked meringue goes into the Kenwood bowl ready for the buttah.


The buttercream starts to come together. I really do love my new Kenwood mixer - I don't know how I got on without it


The first cake layer


Layering the lemon curd


A side view of the cake layers


Ta dah!


I suppose you want the recipe? Well you really should do yourself a big favour and go and buy Dorie's book. If you don't already own it, you NEED it.

OK so this is already a mile long but it seems that lots of Daring Bakers are linking back to my post for the recipe so I'd better put it on here. Hope you don't mind Dorie; did we tell you we love you??

PERFECT PARTY CAKE
From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (pages 250-252)

Words from Dorie
Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.

For the Cake
2 ¼ 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 cup 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 milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
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.

Serving
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.

Storing
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 Party 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.

99 comments:

Deborah said...

How funny that you wanted to choose the lemon cream tart - it is my favorite, so I ended up making the cream from that recipe and using it to fill my cake!!

Thanks for hosting this month - I think you chose the perfect recipe!

Chris said...

This was a great cake! Thanks for a wonderful choice. Sorry about the minor burn! But, I love your new utensils. I have seen the collapsible measures. Do you like them?

kitten said...

thanks for hosting this month's challenge and giving me new inspiration through Dorie !

kitten - thekitchenkitten

Laura said...

I loved it. Wonderful choice of challenge. Thank you! I wouldn't have baked anything like this and found how much I like Dorie's recipes if it weren't for you. ;)

Maryann said...

Thanks for hosting , Morven. And yes, I do love that froggy mitt :)

PAT A BAKE said...

Hi... thanks for hosting and your cake looks cute and the pics detailed. I would never attempt a layered cake and thanks to you I dit it. :)

glamah16 said...

After this challenge I will buy the book. Thanks for introducing me to Dorie and hosting a great challenge. Well done!

Nemmie said...

Beautiful finished cake. Thanks for hosting a great challenge Morven!

Oh, yeah: and nice socks! Hope that footsie is fully healed :)

Katie said...

Thanks for choosing such a wonderful cake for the challange. I will be making it again. Your cake looks delicious.

kellypea said...

I used lemon curd, too! But I added the blackberry jam as well. Thanks so much for choosing this recipe, Morven. It's been my favorite challenge since joining DB a year ago. I'm still licking my fingers over that cake!

Baking Soda said...

It was orange curd for me, this cake needed some tang to it, with all that butter! Thanks for hosting Morven.

zorra said...

Looks wonderful, mine was a more or less a disaster. ;-)

Cakelaw said...

Great cake Morven - thanks for hosting this month's DBs.

Peabody said...

This was such a great pick Morven! I really loved it and can't wait to play around with differnt flavors for the layers. Thanks again for the choice.
And I agree, if you don't own this book...you should!

Julia said...

Great minds think a like! I did lemon curd too (and black cherry preserves). This was my first DB challenge. Are you part of a group that gets together and takes turns making the challenge? That's a great idea!

Kelly-Jane said...

Thanks for choosing such a fun and delicious cake :) Yours looks terrific!

Barbara said...

It looks great Morven.

linda said...

Thanks for the challenge, I really liked the freedom of flavours and looks.
Your cake looks perfect!

Dharm said...

What a lovely cake Morven! Thanks for the challenge this month - it was a lot of fun. Like you, I don't know how I managed without my new Kenwood all this time. Thanks for the step by step pictures. I didnt get my meringue as fluffy as yours - but the icing turned out pretty good anyway!

familiabencomo said...

Thank you, honey, for choosing such a fun challenge. Since this was my 1st DB challenge, I'm sure you will always have a special place in my heart. Your cake is beautiful!

xoxox Amy

Barbara said...

Sorry, but I can't find the recipe! Am I missing a link? It looks so yummy I want to make it NOW!

Anne said...

It's simply lovely! A big thanks to you for the wonderful challenge...I liked it a LOT!

Ann said...

Great-looking cake and challenge-- thanks so much for hosting!

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Thanks for a brilliant challenge Morven & for stopping by too. I came by this morning but didnt find your post...instead drooled over your new kitchen aid post!! Love your fluffy looking party cake...thanks once again. Ciao Deeba

Sheltie Girl said...

Morven - You did a wonderful job on your cake. Yeah! Your new Kenwood mixer did a beautiful job for you. Thank you for a great challenge and the opportunity to be so creative with flavors.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

culinography said...

Thanks for hosting a great challenge! I loved this cake!

Yours looks lovely... I wish I liked coconut - it really makes for a pretty cake.

*fanny* said...

thank you for choosing this recipe
i loved it xxx

Ben said...

Morven, I just want to thank you for a great challenge. I had tons of fun making this cake and adapting it to my liking.

Great cake and great challenge!

Cheers!

Bake your cake and eat it too said...

Thanks for the challenge. I have been trying to find an excuse to use the new offset spatula my husband brought me! I need more practice, but this is a start!

Sarah said...

Thanks for the great recipe choice this month! Your cake turned out great and I hope your foot burn didn't hurt too bad!

Madeleine said...

Thanks for the challenge... Your cake was so perfect... Lemon Curd great idea!!!!

www.madeleinecocina.com

RecipeGirl said...

Nice choice- It was manageable for my very first challenge!

Mcwhisky said...

Taste yummy I reckon! =)

Gabi said...

Looks perfect- thanks for hosting this challenge!
xoxo

Amy J. said...

Awesome!! Thanks so much for hosting this month - I'll always remember my first DB challenge with a smile!

Jerry said...

Thanks for hosting! The cake looks lovely!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Thanks for having chosen this great recipe! Your cake looks gorgeous and extremely scrumptious! Wow!

Cheers,

Rosa

Mindy said...

Thank you for hosting!

mmmmmm....now I want a spoonful of lemon curd....

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Thanks for hosting. I'm so glad you chose this recipe and allowed such room for creativity. It was fun! Your cake looks wonderful.

breadchick said...

Thanks for hosting this month! I was HOPING you'd pick one of Dorie's recipes and this was a good one to for everyone to have fun with. Your cake reminds me of those cookies called "snow balls".

Meeta said...

Morven you picked a winner here. I loved making it and the fact you left us so much room for creativity was another reason I totally enjoyed this. THANK YOU!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You are so right everybody needs this book!
Great cake Morven, Thank You so much for this one! I enjoyed it twice!

Rosie said...

What a great looking cake Morven - thanks for hosting this month's DB challenge :D

Rosie x

chriesi said...

Thanks for the great recepie. It is funny we have the same plates. :)

Andrea said...

Thanks for choosing such a delicious challenge. We loved the cake!

Bridget said...

Great challenge Morven! Even a little extra flour couldn't screw up a cake this good. I bought the book a few days after finishing off the cake.

Claire said...

Great recipe...thanks for hosting! The lemon in the filling sounds great to me.

sher said...

Your cake looks beautiful. Thank you so much for choosing this recipe. I fell in love with it and will prepare it again and again!

April said...

The lemon looks delish!! Thanks for a great challenge!

Tartelette said...

Thanks for a great challenge. That cake is a favorite of mine so any excuse to make it again is a "perfect" one!

Tammy said...

Morven

Your cake looks divine! What a great challenge!!

cookworm said...

Thank you for hosting the challenge, Morven! Your cake looks delish - I just want to dive into that feathery coconut heaven!

Madam Chow said...

Great photos, Morven!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Great job, Morven! Your cake looks great! Thanks for hosting us this month. You picked the perfect recipe. I loved it!

Bellini Valli said...

Thanks for hosting and choosing this month's challenge Morven. All is well in the DB's?D

Katie B. said...

This was a perfect selection, Morven! Thanks a bunch!

Carla said...

Thanks for the most wonderful cake challenge. I loved it. The cake and the challenge. Yours looks super yummy!

Astra Libris said...

Thank you for an amazing challenge! I loved all the creative opportunities!! Thank you, thank you!

Your cake is gorgeous! You've set quite the standard!

~Amber~ said...

Thank you hosting a wonderful challenge!

Your cake looks beautiful. It was probably well worth the little burn you got while making it. :)

To the next challenge we go...

ChichaJo said...

Thanks for hosting and giving us lots of room to be creative! :)

Miss Ifi said...

You really ought to be more careful with that boiling water *giggles*
Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe for this month!!! ^_^

mimi said...

morven, thanks for picking out such a great challenge! the cake was great and yours looks so light and delish!

kimberleyblue said...

I loved doing this challenge, thanks for picking it!

Your cake looks great, too!

Mary said...

Thanks for choosing a fun recipe. I had a good time making the cake.

Elle said...

Morven, Thanks for choosing the perfect recipe. Had not made a layer cake for far too long and this one is excellent...as one expects from Dorie G. Your cake looks so pretty and the lemon curd idea is great!

Amy said...

Thank you so much Morven for choosing this recipe! It was an excellent challenge, one of my favorites! I've always wanted to make a white layer cake like this one. And what do you know, I filled it with Dorie's Lemon Cream! :)

coco said...

Beautiful cake Morven! Thank you for hosting this! It was a pleasure making this :)

Carrie said...

Great challenge Morven!! Thanks for such a great pick! I love your cake because I'm a big fan of lemon curd!! That really would have been easier to use than the strawberry preserves I used!! Great job!!

jerzeetomato said...

This is actually a Nick Malgieri recipe (from Perfect Cakes) and I have made it for years. I have made it with lemon and raspberry together. It is by and large a great cake.

ruthEbabes said...

Thanks for a great DB recipe Morven!!!

Sorry to hear about your foot burn!

enza said...

and this is only one of the several thanks you've received for this challenge.
I'm fron Italy and this is my first DB so my thanks are doubled!
I had some doubt for buttercream and I thought it's too sweet and fatty for our taste but it looks like gorgeous and marvellous.
Maybe I won't repeat this experience but I remind you gratefully for my first challenge and for your choice to free partecipants and expresse their creativity.

ad majora

Julie said...

Hi Morven!

Thanks for a great recipe selection for this challenge! My husband's office is definitely thanking you--they got the cake this morning (except for the piece that I used for taking pictures and sampling, of course!) Great job on your cake.

Jennifer said...

Morven,

GREAT CAKE! I loved this challenge! Thank you!

Randi said...

Thanks SO much for choosing this recipe... It's an amazing cake and one I'll keep making as part of my repertoire. I made the same adjustment - adding lemon curd in between the layers.. everyone raved that it made the cake. Your cake looks beautiful! Thanks again!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for choosing this great recipe. This was my first Dorie recipe and I am now a big fan. I am also going to keep this cake as a staple in my repertoire (I can't spell). Great job.

Morven said...

jerzeetomato - you are absolutely right that this is a Nick Malgieri recipe. Dorie gives credit at the beginning of the recipe when she describes the cake.

Jenny said...

Great choice for this month Morven! And the lemon curd looks like it belongs there, a perfect addition!

Canadian Baker said...

Thanks for great fun challenge Morven. I'm always up for making layer cake!

Dana McCauley said...

Thanks for a great initiation into the Daring Bakers! I enjoyed the challenge very much and look forward to getting to know your blog (and everyone else in the group's) much better.

barbie2be said...

yummy!!

JMom said...

This was my first time participating in DB and what a great way to start! I loved this cake :) we are definitely going to be using this more than this once at our house.

Thanks for hosting daring Bakers this month!

Suzana said...

Morven, thanks for hosting - I think you chose the perfect recipe! It was great fun and, as always, quite a challenge. :)

Megan said...

Thanks for picking an excellent recipe. This month was a blast!!!

Shandy said...

Your cake is beautiful and your recipe is a perfect choice. So many bakers just LOVE Dorie Greenspan's recipes! =D

Tracy said...

Good job on picking a recipe! I had never made Swiss buttercream so it was a learning experience. I appreciated all the room for creativity -- it's been fun reading everyone's adaptations.

Annarasa said...

Lovely cake, Morven! Thanks for introducing me to this super recipe. My very first DB Challenge was a joy to create.

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

Thanks for hosting this month. You did a great job! I am very sorry to hear you burnt your foot, though!

Renee said...

Thanks for hosting and picking such a great recipe. This was my first DB Challenge. I was so happy that it was a Dorie recipe!!

Half Baked said...

Thanks for hosting! I loved the challenge. I filled mine with lemon curd as well! It seemed like a perfect match. Great pick for the db challenge!

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Morven, I just had to come back & say how much I have enjoyed this challenge. The whole experience was GREAT. from the time it was posted, to all the comments, to the actual 'baking' & finally the fantastic posts of so many DBs. It has been an exhilirating experience...there is so much creativity out there; looks like we were really waiting for something like this! THANKS A TON!!! Take care Deeba

Marq said...

Thanks for hosting this month, Morven! I am soo glad that I have this recipe now, it's the best. I am definitely going to pick up her book!

Aunt Jo said...

This looks like my new favorite cake! I love lemon and coconut. I wonder if my hubby would make it for me??

Mrs Erg├╝l from said...

Hi Morven, do you mind telling me which cake pans you used for this cake? Because it looks like the tart pan I have at home and I was just wondering if I can use the tart pan for cakes too, thanks!

I(dot)J said...

Love the challenge...thanks so much. Oh... and LOVE LOVE LOVE the pic of your sock. It happens to me all the time! :)

Aoife said...

I'm glad you survived the burn -- I guess that's what makes it daring! Great recipe pick, and thanks for letting us play around with the flavors!

Sandicita said...

Thanks so much for hosting the challenge (and for visiting my post). It was wonderful inspiration for finding our own creativity!

BC said...

I loved the cake. Thank you for a great choice!

Clevermonkey said...

I was just admiring Sugar Plums version of this cake in blackberry. But lemon cream! I love lemons... decisions, decisions... perhaps I can make it half and half. And now I'm dreaming of lemons and blueberries too.

creampuff said...

It was a great challenge Morven! Thanks for hosting!