Daring Baker #4 Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

>> Sunday, March 30, 2008



Morven from Food Art and Random Thoughts hosted this month's Daring Baker event. She made the lovely choice of Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Here's what happened when I gave up on my fakin' ways and tried bakin' my way back into your good graces this month.

For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups whole milk minus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 egg whites from freakishly small eggs erroneously labeled as LARGE
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
5 egg whites from freakishly small eggs erroneously labeled as LARGE
3 sticks salted butter, at room temperature (UNsalted butter recommended)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup sour cherry preserves stirred until spreadable
smaller than needed quantity of sliced almonds

Getting Ready
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and realize you don't have any parchment paper despite the appearance of having plenty due to the presence of the empty boxes in the cabinet. Prepare to scream at children then realize it's doubtful they used the last, nor any of the parchment paper. Shut mouth. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered aluminum foil. Put the pans on a baking sheet. Discover both pans won't fit on baking sheet, fuss around a bit then put the pans directly on the oven racks.

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. Take a minute to count the number of bowls and briefly wonder if you have enough clean dishes to make a cake. Give a silent shout-out to one bowl recipe writers. Press on. Add the butter and working with the whisk attachment beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes or maybe 10, until the butter and sugar are very light and fluffy. 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. Huff a little about this bit of fussiness. 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. Stop at this point and taste the batter. Decide that it's the best cake batter you've ever tasted and totally worth getting 4 bowls dirty even if the cake turns out like chewy pancakes in the end. 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. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, turn them out of the pans and peel off the foil liners. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up.

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. 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 beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, which I don't, and I don't know why, and add the butter a 1/4 of a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in try not to think about it and beat buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, about 10 minutes.
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 that tastes delicous but doesn't taste at all salty if you don't use salted butter. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly. Remove the plastic and re-taste at frequent intervals while you wait for the cake to cool.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally roughly in half. Remember too late that trick with the toothpicks.
Put one layer cut side up on a plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Or aluminum foil. You know, whatever you have. Spread it with one half of the preserves. Realize that you should have only used about a third and try to scrape some up with a spoon. Math genius. Try to cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Quickly figure out that this is making a huge freakin' pink mess and decide to pipe on the buttercream. Feel inordinately pleased with self. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and pipe on the buttercream and then do the same with a third layer. Place the last layer on and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Wonder why there doesn't seem to be quite enough for full side coverage. Realize that you probably ate more than you realized. Feel gluttinous. Find some sliced almonds in the cabinet, press the almonds into the sides to hide the lack of frosting. Vow to never again buy boxed cake mix. Ignore that you know you lie.

What would I do differently? Well, I think substituting lemon juiced milk for buttermilk really upped the lemon flavor which was fine by me, less fine by the other people that live here. Like I care. But I would most definately pay more attention when shopping and buy unsalted butter. And parchment paper. And maybe more almonds, but if I'd ended up with more buttercream for the cake and less used in pre-frosting testing I probably wouldn't have used them at all.

I LOVED the sour cherry with the lemon, and the cake itself was really nice. I'll certainly be making it again. Soon. With coconut.

46 comments:

Ann March 30, 2008 at 6:26 AM  

Love the idea of sour cherry in this cake! Yours looks fab!

Butta Buns March 30, 2008 at 10:22 AM  

I bet the almond slivers tasted great with the sour cherries. Wonderful!

sher March 30, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

The next time I make this, I'm going to do it like yours. I love almonds and that looks so pretty! And sour cherries??? Hold me back girl!! That's PERFECT.

Anonymous March 30, 2008 at 2:17 PM  

When you make it again will you bring me some? Please.
Julie

RecipeGirl March 30, 2008 at 5:21 PM  

Nice job! And quick thinking using the almonds to camouflage your lack of buttercream :)

Bridget March 30, 2008 at 5:43 PM  

The almonds on the side are so pretty!

Scuttle March 30, 2008 at 7:13 PM  

I love cherry's I bet this was very good! Thanks for stopping by.

BTW I really like your lunch boxes

Kristen March 30, 2008 at 7:26 PM  

I love the almonds on the cake, and sour cherries, yumm!

Katie March 30, 2008 at 7:36 PM  

Haha I love your take on the instructions. "Quickly figure out that this is making a huge freakin' pink mess and decide to pipe on the buttercream." That's exactly what happened to me!

Rachel March 30, 2008 at 7:48 PM  

Love the almond slivers....

Megan March 30, 2008 at 8:07 PM  

Love your post. I used coconut to cover my mistakes but almonds were a great idea!

Sarah March 30, 2008 at 8:52 PM  

Your cake is beautiful! Sour cherry sounds super tasty, I'll have to remember it for next time!

Judy March 30, 2008 at 8:58 PM  

Your cake is beautiful! I love sour cherries, so paired with the almonds, it's certainly a winner.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy March 30, 2008 at 9:12 PM  

Your cake looks beautiful! I really like the almonds in the sides, even if they weren't part of the original plan. Sour cherry preserves sound great too. I doubled the buttercream recipe and I just had enough. I am still in shock over using 6 sticks of butter in one cake! :o

Rosie March 31, 2008 at 4:52 AM  

What a beautiful cake and I just love the way you have decorated your cake with almonds! Well done on a perfect bake :)

Rosie x

Passionate baker...& beyond March 31, 2008 at 5:41 AM  

Pretty cake...love the sour cherry! My kinda flavour!! YUM YUM! I'm so glad DB's shaken a load of you out of boxes & into baking real stuff!! That's a good looking cake!!

SweetDesigns March 31, 2008 at 7:40 AM  

Sour Cherries and Almonds...YUM!! Your cake looks Great!!

Susan March 31, 2008 at 7:48 AM  

Beautiful cake and hilarious recipe annotations!

Half Baked March 31, 2008 at 8:29 AM  

Your cake looks great! I love the sour cherry and almonds. I'll have to try that combo! Your post made me chuckle...no more cake mixes lol;)

Julie March 31, 2008 at 10:16 AM  

Hey Lisa!

Your cake turned out beautifully, and what a flavor combination! Cherry and almond always go so well together. I'll need to add it to my (growing) list of flavors to try the next time I make this cake. So many great ideas with this challenge....

Y March 31, 2008 at 4:30 PM  

Hilarious! I did like you and tried not to think about how much butter was going into the buttercream. And tasting at frequent intervals, yep, guilty of that too.. though I somehow miraculously managed to have enough at the end to completely frost the cake. Love the idea of using sour cherry preserves, by the way.

Proud Italian Cook March 31, 2008 at 5:41 PM  

Sour cherry and almonds! What a great combo and a pretty cake. Nice blog too.

Melinda March 31, 2008 at 6:33 PM  

Well, I am glad to see your cake! I laughed at your last challenge. I can tell you are a tricky customer!
I love your recipe with stream of conscience commentary. What a hoot.
Your cake looks gorgeous.
I take off my plastic shower cap to you! Cheers!

maybahay March 31, 2008 at 7:16 PM  

hmm, almond with the buttercream. i bet that was delish. your cake is quite pretty...

Meryl March 31, 2008 at 8:27 PM  

Yum! The almonds are lovely!

Princess of the kitchen March 31, 2008 at 11:12 PM  

lovely cake. well done and thanks for your comments

Cynthia March 31, 2008 at 11:22 PM  

yeah i agree - the sliced almonds add such a lovely touch on the side!

BTW love your whole bento box theme! it's too cute!!!!

Marie March 31, 2008 at 11:39 PM  

Sour cherry, lemon and almonds...mmmm sounds like a perfect combination! Lovely looking cake and I just love the Bento's!

Cakelaw April 1, 2008 at 2:49 AM  

LOL - I like your version of the recipe better than Dorie's because it is more fun. Cherry preserves sound delicious, and the final cake is a work of art - you'd never know about the buttercream shortage.

Tiffany April 1, 2008 at 4:33 AM  

Yep, I had a swirly pink mess when I layered my buttercream and cherry preserves too. I didn't even think to pipe the buttercream. Good idea!!

Dhanggit April 1, 2008 at 7:19 AM  

your cake is gorgeous!! and i love the flavors you mixed and match in this challenge!!

marias23 April 1, 2008 at 8:14 AM  

Haha, what a great post! :D

But the sour cherry and lemon does sound awesome!

Miss Ifi April 1, 2008 at 8:33 PM  

mmm your cake looks great!!! Congratulations!! mm cherries

Big Boys Oven April 2, 2008 at 1:49 AM  

such a perfectly gorgeous party cake!

the AIRY FAIRY April 2, 2008 at 3:24 AM  

such a lovely cake. i love the almonds around the outside and using sour cherry...great idea!

Michelle April 2, 2008 at 5:42 AM  

Your cake looks very yummy and I love that you used sour cherry!

BC April 2, 2008 at 7:15 AM  

It called for buttermilk? My eyes completely skimmed over that detail and my brain skipped a beat. Never even thought about it.

But who am I kidding? I am not a professional.

AranciOnissimA April 2, 2008 at 7:36 AM  

Thanks a lot for your post!
and your cake seems the king cake!
I visited your site, I love bento!
And I love also noodles...
I've tried to prepare twice and I obtained good results
Bye for now
AranciOnissimA

Snug April 2, 2008 at 7:47 AM  

Sour cherry is a brilliant idea! Lovely cake :)

Amy J. April 2, 2008 at 8:11 AM  

Loooove the flavor combo you used - almost as much as I enjoyed reading your take on the recipe. But not quite so much. ;D

I also feel great comfort in knowing that there's another person in the universe who has hordes of empty boxes in their cabinets!!

Great job!

Jenny April 2, 2008 at 2:29 PM  

Hehe that was a hoot to read! Nice job on the cake, pulling it all through in the end. (And if it makes you feel any better, the second batch of buttercream I made was with salted butter and no one noticed a thing. It was what I had available to me.)

my food affair April 3, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

great cake! the toasted almond is a beautiful touch!

JMom April 4, 2008 at 6:51 AM  

:) I had the same problem in my house with some people hating lemon. I enjoyed that lemon flavored one immensely and alone. hehe!

I am on a bento quest this month, so I was really glad you commented on my blog and I followed it here. Now I have another resource for bento ideas!

Your cake looks beautiful, btw.

myriam April 4, 2008 at 11:38 AM  

nice one!

jasmine April 4, 2008 at 4:51 PM  

Very lovely cake--like the almonds around the side...

j

Sheltie Girl April 5, 2008 at 6:48 AM  

Your cake looks simply delicious. Those freakishly small eggs did a great job!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

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