Sunday, March 30, 2008

Perfect Party Cake - Daring Bakers

Wow...I've been busy with my OB-Gyn rotation. Don't really like Gyn but OB is fun...except for working 6 straight 12 hour days...this is why I missed ARF Tuesday! But what better way to jump back into the Blogsphere than with a Daring Bakers entry? Yes, it's that time again! I've been able to do my last two challenges fairly early in the month. This time, the challenge was Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake. I was really excited about this one because I thought it looked good. I became even more excited when I realized that my Sunday School class was having a lunch and I'd have a reason to make this cake! The only problem (in my opinion!)...the cake had buttercream. After making our December challenge, I determined that I'm not a buttercream fan...just feel like I'm eating butter! Thank goodness, Dorie offered an option to use fruit and whipped cream for a "lighter" cake. This was the option I decided on. The cake was very simple to make and turned out wonderful and fluffy. I did have a bit of trouble getting it out but I also didn't use the parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Hey! That just meant there was some "goodie" in the bottom of the pan for me to eat...that's the best part anyway! Since I was using the whipped cream version, I made the cake the night before and then cut and iced it the next morning. I was pleased with the way it turned out and so were my friends. Before I knew it, all but three slices of the cake were gone! I did not expect that, but was happy everyone enjoyed it. The only comment I had, and I think I agree, was that the coconut was not needed. I think that with the whipped cream, the texture and even taste of the coconut distracted from the lightness and subtle taste of the cake. Overall, a WONDERFUL cake! Thank you, Morven, for choosing a great recipe and hosting this month. Check out the blogroll for more great entries.



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 1/4 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 (I used strawberry) 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.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. 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 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.



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 CakeIf 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.

54 comments:

myriam said...

i totally over-read the info about the whipped cream instead of the buttercream. too heavy for me, too but i just loooove making it. doesnt the marshmallow-y consistency just look wonderful? - nice job!

Deborah said...

Beautiful job! It looks wonderful.

Heather said...

Like Myriam, I missed the different frosting version. Oh well, I wouldn't have had the same experience without it.
Your cake looks great!

Joy said...

Yum - I could dive into that cake face first! It looks so soft and light. Lovely.

Aran said...

Great job you too!

Peabody said...

A fabulous cake. Job well done.

kellypea said...

Six straight 12-hour days. Ugh. But I do get that cooking calms. As far as the buttercream goes, I loved this buttercream. That isn't usually the case with me. It was just so light and that hint of lemon was very nice...Congrats on getting the challenge done so well! I love this cake.

cookworm said...

Your cake looks very tasty! I too was glad we could forgo buttercream and use whipped cream.

Cakespy said...

Oh, Claire, looking at yours makes me wish we'd followed the recipe sans shortcuts...looks just heavenly!

Brilynn said...

Yours looks so nice and fluffy!

culinography said...

Your cake looks lovely! I wanted to go with the whipped cream, but I needed the cake to last longer...

Claire said...

Myriam - I do love the look of the buttercream...too bad it's so heavy and butter-ful.

Deborah - Thanks

Heather - Hey, now you know how to make a buttercream. Thanks!

Joy - Well, I just hope you don't hurt your face...don't want to be doing any stitches over here!

Aran - Thanks!

Peabody - Thank you. It was fun.

Kellypea - yep...and tomorrow I get to be at the hospital by 5:15. :-s Thanks!

Cookworm - Yeah, sometimes having options is really nice.

Cakespy - You know, I'm not totally sure that I didn't do some shortcuts either!

Brilynn - Thanks!

Culinography - Yeah, I had to make my cake the night before and then do the whipped cream the next morning before I left.

Katy said...

yum!!! looks wonderful!

Barbara Bakes said...

Your cake looks delicious. What a great attitude you had about the cake not coming out of the pan just right!

glamah16 said...

My your busy. But you came through with a beautiful cake.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Goodness Claire your cake looks like the fluffiest goodness around! Beautiful cake girl!!

jasmine said...

Very pretty.

Wish I had gone the whipped cream route, but with most fruits imported at this time of year, the fruit paring would have been...lacking...

j

Michelle said...

Great Job!!
I agree with you on the coconut comment and the next time I make this cake I am not going to add that...I also realized this challenge that I am not a big buttercream fan as well...

pixie said...

great cake!

Baking Soda said...

Think yuo made a wise decision opting for whipped cream with this cake. I just forgot that we could do that too...but like myriam here I love making buttercream! (Don't like the taste of it, but the making off... love it!)
Beauty cake!

AranciOnissimA said...

beatiful cake! I love the coconut flakes!!!
AranciOnissimA
http://arancionissima.blogspot.com/

Morven said...

That sure is a pretty cake. Glad you could tweak the recipe to your taste.

Kelly-Jane said...

Well done, you've made a gorgeous cake!

April said...

Yum! Your cake looks great!

Aamena said...

looks wonderful! :) lovely colours.

Cinnamonda said...

Your cake looks delicious! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Greetings,
Tiina

Kevin said...

Nice looking cake!

Alisha said...

Wow .. that looks fabulous! You did a great job!

chou said...

I agree that life without the coconut works just fine. Good luck surviving your rotations!

briannalee said...

Claire, your cake came out beautiful, Great job!

lol, I have to agree, the little crumbs on the bottom of the cake pan is the best :)

coco said...

Your cake looks beautiful!

Jenny said...

I think I can see how the coconut would distract from the lightness if you used cream. With Dorie's buttercream, I did not find it tasted like butter, so the coconut worked well with the hint of lemon.
Lovely cake.

JMom said...

Great job, Claire! I'm going to have to try the whipped cream frosting next as after two cakes, I think we're all having buttercream overload at my house :)

Butta Buns said...

You mean leaving scraps of cake on the pan to be picked at and nibbled on, isn't the norm? I thought we all did that on purpose. :-)

Fran Z said...

Your cake looks so yummy! I love it when our creations get gobbled up so fast!

Elle said...

Great that you used the whipped cream...buttercream does, indeed, have a lot of butter...and buttery taste. I can see why everyone ate your up so fast...it looks delicious!

pacificoutpost said...

Your cake looks lovely! And it's always nice to have a reason to share :-)

bombshellwithin said...

I'm not a big fan of buttercream, but since I hardly eat what I make, it didn't bother me much. Great cake, though.

said...

You're cake looks SO delicious! Thanks for your comments on mine and happy HOOPY3! hahahaha

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I hate buttercream too... HOWEVER this recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream is wonderful. The egg whites make it light and fluffy. You can even decrease the butter to 2 sticks for a less-buttery taste, and the frosting still works!

It's by far my all time favorite frosting!

Katie said...

Your cake looks wonderfully tall. I'm sure everyone enjoyed it.

Jenny said...

I agree that the coconut seemed a little unnecessary, but I guess it depends on what version of the cake you are making. I liked to use it as a transport buffer for mine, pure function over taste.

eatme_delicious said...

Looks great! I loved the coconut and thought it was an essential part of the cake (but then I used the buttercream and am a huge coconut lover!)

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Love the cake! Great job! I might try it with whipped cream next time. The buttercream was delicious, but a bit heavy.

creampuff said...

Nicely done, Claire! It looks like a big puffy cloud!

Kate said...

Your cake looks yummy! I debated on adding the coconut and decided not too. After reading your post I'm glad I didn't, and I won't in the future!
Thanks for stopping by and for your comments!
Looking forward to seeing what you do for Aprils challenge!

Karen said...

Well done! I learned that I'm not a big buttercream fan either and now wish I had tried whipped cream. Still, it was a great cake! Yours looks lovely.

Julia said...

Yum! Your cake looks wonderful and I love that changed the frosting. It's almost like you made a strawberry shortcake-cake. I adore whipped cream but my tummy has another opinion, but I know my husband would like it.

Thanks for leaving me a comment on my blog. DB has been such a great way to get to know other bakers who love to cook as much as I do.

Carla said...

The whipped cream sounds and looks divine! And I agree about the coconut, it wasn't necessary. Now I'm hungry for cake at 7:30 am! Great job!

dailydelicious said...

I really love your cake and I think if I make it again, I will use whipped cream.

Yenping said...

What? I didn't see that bit on using whipped cream at all. I think that would've just perfect actually. Your cake looks cute - like a fairy tale. And don't you just love it when there's an event you can bring your baked DBB thing to??

abby said...

great looking cake claire!

familiabencomo said...

Great job! How blessed you are to have a big group of friends to have shared this great cake with! I'll have to try it with whipped cream.... although I do really like butter.

xoxox Amy

SaraLynn said...

Your cake looks yummy! Next time I am going to try the whipped cream and fresh fruit version. Buttercream was too heavy for us!
Hope you have a great day!