Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

mmm, cake.

I’m a big believer in baking cakes just because you want to. I made this one because it’s Thursday, and Thursdays definitely need some joy injected into them. What is it with Tuesdays and Thursdays? They are always so dull.

I understand the other side though - the people who only bake cakes for special occasions. I suppose they seem more special that way, if you don’t have them all of the time. Heck, this cake is called the perfect party cake. But cake baking is fun! And delicious! And life can always use a little extra sweetness.

So what about you? Are you a celebration cake kind of person? An any ol’ time you feel like it cake baker? Or do you hate cake and wish to never see one again? (if that’s the case, bake this one asap. Your mind will be blown.) I want to know!

decorating

This cake is perfection, Dorie Greenspan never lets me down. I only made a few of changes, I left the vanilla extract out of the frosting, added some cherry juice to dye it pink, I used my homemade cherry jam as filling, and didn’t cover it with coconut.

It’s delightful, not too sweet (I say that alot, I know! I just really like not-so-sweet baked goods.) and both the cake and the buttercream (which is the best buttercream I have ever had in my life) are slightly lemony. And I love lemon. If you happen to not care for lemon, I’m sure you could just leave it out, use vanilla extract instead. Or almond! I bet almond extract would be delicious. Then cover it in almonds! I may have to try that one out...

cake!

Perfect Party Cake
from Baking: From My Home To Yours

For the Cake:

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon 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 teaspoon 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

Getting Ready: Center a rack in 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 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – 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, unmold 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 2 months.)

To Make the Buttercream: 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.

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 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. 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 the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). 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 it’s best to let it set for a couple of hours in a cool room.
Storing: The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to 2 days.

72 comments:

  1. I love this recipe from Dorie! I have made it on several occasions and it always comes out perfect! Great post Hannah! And very smart to use cherry juice to dye it pink! :)

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  2. I also believe in making cakes for no reason. :) This looks beautiful and delicious!

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  3. Sounds delicious and looks beautiful! I love baking but I don't make cakes very often. I will try this sometime!

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  4. I loooove making cakes for no reason, except that means I usually eat more than my fair share and then feel super-duper guilty. I love the idea of using cherry juice as dye rather than the traditional red food coloring. Super pretty cake!

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  5. I'm a firm believer in baking cakes whenever you feel like it! My Thursday needed a little joy as well, so I made cookies today. I'm excited to try this buttercream since I love lemon!

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  6. Oh My, this cake is almost too much for me to bare! The cake and fruit combination makes me dizzy. Because of this uncontrollable love of such concoctions, I'm, by choice, a cake non-baker. The bread baking instead, makes up for the cake deprivation, and staring at your gorgeous cake images also helps - a little.

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  7. I make cakes when I have a craving for them-- and I think I now have a craving for this cake. Yum!

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  8. i'm in love.
    jam + cakes is completely my thing these days. i see it everywhere and i want it desperately.

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  9. (and by 'everywhere' i mean like two places, including right here. but it feels like i can't escape it.)

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  10. I LOVE CAKE! I know, too much enthusiasm. But I do love cake. I am making a "dirt cake" for a friend's Birthday tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe, and for your great blogs!1

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  11. I love baking cakes to make ordinary days more special! Although I've never been much of a cake with buttercream eater, so I pretty much just bake any dessert! This cake however is absolutely lovely, love the changes you made!

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  12. I love this book, but I have a love-hate relationship with this recipe. Hated it, because when I tried to make it several years ago, the cake came out TERRIBLE. It was all dense and didn't rise and just looked awful. Now LOVE it, because after much research into why it failed so miserably (and much misplaced frustration with Ms. Greenspan), I learned that unlike all-purpose flour, cake flour must ALWAYS be sifted. It taught me an important lesson!

    Anyway, it looks like your swiss meringue buttercream has a beautiful texture!

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  13. My beloved mother was from Germany and she baked a "not too sweet" buttercream cake for every special occasion, with three layers-buttercrean between one and marmalade between the other! This looks very similar! I will have to try it!

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  14. I agree - that is the PERFECT party cake! Your photos are stunning! This is a must make!!!

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  15. Wow now this looks incredible and perfect for a Summer Birthday! xo

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  16. This cake looks delicious - definitely the perfect party (or just because) cake. I've looked at the recipe often but haven't made it. Think that will have to change now...

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  17. I love cake too! This one looks and sounds delicious. There are never enough special occasions to make cake so it's great to just do it for fun. In fact, I'm off to bake right now...

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  18. I am a huge fan of this cake! You're right ~ it never lets me down!
    Great job with your adaptations too, sounds yummy :)

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  19. this looks so good. i wish i had a slice right now

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  20. This looks amazing. I've wanted to try out some of Dorie Greenspan's recipes lately. Maybe I'll start with this one. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. what a lovely, beautiful and delicious thursday cake!. I would love to have a slice of your cake right now.

    I think I fall in between, love to bake (and eat) cakes but sometimes I'm very lazy. I should try harder to bake cakes more often.

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  22. How pretty! I do like cakes, but it I think I like how they look better than the taste. I'm more of a pie person. I love to bake and look at cakes, but I can clean a pie plate QUICK.

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  23. I'm not a huge cake person, but this looks amazing! I'll definitely have to bake one.

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  24. I'm a pie baker so cake isn't really my thing, but this one is so gorgeous that I might have to try it!

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  25. I tried leaving you a comment but I don't think it took. I apologize it shows up twice.

    I like to bake cakes just because but too often life only allows time for special occasions.

    Your "Just Because Thursday" Cake looks wonderful. :)
    ~ingrid

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  26. This cake is just too gorgeous. So simple and elegant looking. I like to bake for no reason - or maybe because it's a Sunday. Is that a reason? Have a great weekend! xxSAS

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  27. Any tips for baking this at high altitude? I'm at 7,200 feet. :)

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  28. I love making cupcakes any time! Hope that counts as making cakes. haha. Your cake looks great!! :)
    Would you mind checking out my blog? :D
    http://ajscookingsecrets.blogspot.com/

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  29. What a beautiful cake. Agreed, Thursdays are great for baking cakes. ;-) [K]

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  30. I bake cakes, but I prefer cakes with mousse cream and all!

    I've already seen this recipe, but never tried! But the amount of butter used for the buttercream scares me... It won't be good without the buttercream right? :(

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  31. Te ha quedado fantástica, para mí no hay días a la hora de comer un trocito de pastel, cualquier ocasión es buena y además te alegra el día, como nada... Un besito y feliz sábado

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  32. That looks delicious. I love homemade buttercream frosting.

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  33. I love making cakes. I'm making one today in fact.

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  34. This cake looks amazingly delicious! I just found your blog on TasteSpotting and I'm in love! I am about to spend the rest of the day going over your previous posts. Thanks!

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  35. I love this cake! Yours looks beautiful and so delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  36. I love Thursdays! It's my third favourite day of the week :)

    I've been meaning to try this recipe since I first got the book. And now I want to try it even more, given how lovely yours looks.

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  37. Such an elegant looking cake...great photos! I love my cakes 'not too sweet' too! (I usually half the amt of sugar in my cakes..hehe)

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  38. That really is the perfect party cake. And you did such a lovely job with it, Hannah.

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  39. I love how you can do different styles with your food photography. These are lovely, Hannah!

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  40. I have to admit that I'm a special occasion cake baker, but the fiance is an every day cake eater, so that might change :) I love your twist on this recipe - the final cake looks gorgeous!

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  41. I totally agree - baking a cake just for the sake of baking a cake is the most fun! And your cake looks beautiful. Love that filling!

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  42. White. Perfect.
    I love it, and thanks a lot for this recipe.

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  43. im a both baker. i special occasion AND thursday baker.
    that cake is stunn-ing.

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  44. I always stayed away from cake baking. I just thought it would be hard. But I made cupcakes from scratch so I think I am ready to try cake. Lemons. I love lemons.

    LisaDay

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  45. I bake cakes for the hell of it all the time :P

    Special occasions usually call for pies or cookies or something other than cake in my house, anyway ;P

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  46. I agree with you 100%, Monday through Thursday needs cake; or else they just simply don't measure up!

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  47. Pretty, pretty cake. Perfect for a June afternoon.

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  48. I completely agree: Baking a cake without an occasion in mind is one of the most delightful things to do! In fact, I baked one today (in addition to a key lime pie).

    To be honest, the cake recipe isn't quite right; it was my first try adapting a recipe I found in one of Grandma's old recipe boxes, and it needs some tweaking. But it was soon fun to try it out, and hopefully with a few more tweaks, it'll be just right!

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  49. Hannah, this cake looks gorgeous - I love the simplicity of the photos. I'll have to give this one a go and let you know how it goes on my site.

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  50. hannah- I'm so mad I haven't seen your blog until now! your photos are beyond gorgeous. loving your work.

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  51. I have just discovered your blog thanks to Elissa's post on 'The Kitchen Generation', and I will now spend my entire weekend fawning over your pictures and posts!!

    I couldn't resist commenting on this post because I just adore the idea of using cherry juice to dye the frosting - I don't like using food colouring so this is just perfect!

    Also - as a side note, I wanted to agree with your comment about how you prefer not-so-sweet sweet treats; I think I have a new favourite blog!

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  53. my sister made this (i suggested and helped) for my birthday today. it was awesome. we went by your tweeks. i think we may have needed to let the cake bake a little longer. And we were able to make cake flour. it was an excellent cake. thank you!

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  54. Hi there! I was thinking of making the cake layers from this recipe for a strawberry cream cake I'm making this weekend. I know you baked this a year ago, but I was wondering if you remember if it was pretty moist, or more towards the drier end of the spectrum? I'm looking for something that can stand up to some strawberry syrup soakage.

    Sorry, I know it's probably annoying to get questions like this, but I just happened to see this recipe at the bottom of your latest post and thought I would ask! Love your blog by the way :)

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  55. I think I forgot to comment here when I tried this cake a few weeks ago. Thank you for posting this. It is one of the best cakes in the world. I came here from Four Flights of Fancy.
    I brought this to a dinner party & one of the guys had 3 or 4 pieces. I was starting to get nervous I wouldn't have leftovers to eat once I got home.

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  56. In a large bowl, whisk together the ateş ve su buz devri brown sugar, melted butter, flour and salt. Add in the eggs, maple syrup This dish is really amazing to eat.As there has been mixed many awesome ingredients kafa topu so it should be delicious for everyone.I would like to make this dish and will eat with my family.

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  57. I made this cake for a family gathering type occasion and everyone complimented it, saying it was delicious, best lemon cake they'd ever had, wanted the recipe, etc. I will definitely make the again!

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