March 30, 2008
My first Daring Bakers‘ challenge! I just bought Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, so I thought this challenge was exceptionally appropriate: Perfect Party Cake. Lemony cake with a rich lemon buttercream frosting, a filling of frosting and blueberry preserves and coconut sprinkled all over the top. A perfect spring time cake!
Unfortunately, the cake didn’t turn out so perfectly. The first problem was that my cakes didn’t rise. One was definitely higher than the other, but there was no way I would be able to cut each in half. So I decided to just make it into a 2-layer cake, instead of 4 layers. This was actually okay, but the cake did lose something, missing those extra two layers in terms of its texture.
Seeing as I didn’t have as many layers to fill with the frosting, I only made half of the frosting. Considering the full recipe called for 3 sticks of butter, this was fine with me.
I chose blueberry preserves for the centre, and while the taste was fantastic, a stunning combo with the lemon, there were dried blueberries that disrupted the light texture of the cakes and the frosting.
All around? This cake tastes perfect, there’s a wonderful lemony note to it that I love. The coconut on top is a good combo, and the frosting is magical, light and yet still rich. I likely won’t make this cake again, but I am enjoying it right now.
Perfect Party Cake
From Baking: from my home to yours
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 t grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 t pure lemon extract
2/3 c seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut
LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 t pure vanilla extract
1. 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 and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, and the remaining 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.
6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper lines. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
LEMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
1. Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan 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.
2. 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 (I don’t, so I continued to use my hand mixer.) Add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 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.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
1. 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.
2. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
3. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer. Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
4. Press the coconut into the frosting patting gently all over the sides and top.
Dorie offers lots of “Playing Around” suggestions, but I pretty much stayed with what the main recipe called for, except for substituting the raspberry preserves with blueberry.
I’m looking forward to future Daring Bakers’ challenges! This was a lot of fun, and it’s not a cake I would’ve made on my own. Thanks!