Daring Bakers: Perfect Party Cake

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And perfect it was. This was no surprise, given that this is a Dorie Greenspan recipe. Thanks to Tuesdays With Dorie I have become a huge Dorie fan, and have found that all of her recipes are nothing short of foolproof.

This month was hosted by Morven at Food Art and Random Thoughts and we were given quite a bit of leeway for this challenge. It was certainly a nice change of pace, so thank you! The original cake recipe calls for lemon zest and extract, but not being the biggest fan of lemon (as was evidenced by giving away my Lemon Meringue Pie in January), I took the advice of my friend Laurie (otherwise known as quirky cupcake), who thought that orange would be a nice complement to the raspberry used in the recipe. Well, isn’t she a smarty pants, because orange tasted fantastic in this recipe!

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Aside from that change, the only other modification I made was the icing, as the original recipe calls for a meringue buttercream, but I thought that a cream cheese frosting would be just wonderful with the citrus and fruit flavors in the cake. It turned out to be perfect, although I would like to give the meringue buttercream a shot one of these days as well.

A number of people reported having problems with the cake not rising, but mine seemed to puff up just as Dorie said it would. The recipe gives the option of using the paddle or whisk attachment of the stand mixer, and I opted for the whisk as I figured it would infuse even more air and fluff into the cake, and whether it was the whisk or not, the resulting cake was perfectly moist and fluffy.

The only problem I really had came during assembly. I found it near impossible to spread the frosting on TOP of the raspberry layer. The frosting just kind of slid around, and raspberry jam slid everywhere. In hindsight, I would put the layers prepared with the raspberry jam in the freezer to set somewhat before trying to frost on top of it. Another friend of mine, Amber, also had a great idea – she reversed the layer and put the frosting on first and then the jam on top. She said this worked very well, so that’s another approach to consider next time.

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We both loved this cake and couldn’t get enough of it.  The flavors complemented each other perfectly and the result was an extremely moist and fluffy cake with both a light taste and texture. I couldn’t think of a better cake for a spring or summer special occasion!

This will certainly be a cake recipe that I keep to use as a base for multiple flavor combinations. I am planning on experimenting with mango next month for our anniversary, as our wedding cake was a white cake with a mango filling and buttercream frosting. Wish me luck! 🙂

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Perfect Party Cake
(Source: Dorie Greenspan “Baking: From My Home to Yours” p. 250)

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 [I substituted orange zest]
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract [I substituted orange extract]

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable [I used raspberry jam]
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut [I omitted this]

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 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 frosting.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and frosting and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have frosting leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining frosting to frost 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.


Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

(Adapted from quirky cupcake)

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
8 cups powdered sugar

In a medium mixing bowl combine cream cheese, butter and orange juice. Beat on low to medium until light and fluffy. Gradually add 4 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency.

62 Responses

  1. I like how you decorated your cake- It looks great!

  2. your cake looks beautiful glad you liked it so much!

  3. It looks picture perfect (and perfectly orangey)! Congrats. 🙂

  4. I like how you used a cream cheese frosting with this, This cake is so adaptable!

  5. Well at least it doesn’t look like you had problems with the raspberry filling. Looks great!

  6. Perfect party cake fo sho! I love the raspberry and orange. Looks fabulous. I lurve cream cheese frosting… Mmmm..

  7. Great job!

  8. Smooth icing! Great job.

  9. Your cake looks gorgeous – I want a piece.

    Glad you enjoyed the challenge.

  10. Lovely cake! I like how the layers turned out almost pink in between the cake. And mango sounds like a fun experiment, I am sure it will be perfect! Great job!

  11. Orange sounds wonderful! Mine was slippery too, so I put the frosting in the fridge for a bit. Great job!

  12. You frosting came out beautifully. I never have good luck with butterceam for some reason. I should probably stay away from it. I love your decorations, so refreshing!

  13. A very pretty cake. Beautiful use of fresh fruit on top.

  14. Gorgeous Dah-ling! Its stunning! Cant wait to see the mango variation too.

  15. Your cake looks awesome! I went with a whipped cream/cream cheese frosting instead of the buttercream and was happy with it. Great job!

  16. It is absolutely beautiful Chelle, the decorations are simple yet elegant. The orange sounds like a great sub for the lemon. To the next challenge we go!

  17. Good call on the cream cheese frosting! I can tell it was just delicious!

  18. Thanks for that tip on the frosting first then the jam! Great tip. Good luck with the mango flavored cake, sounds delicious. Let us know how it turns out!!!

  19. Pretty cake Michelle. I love the idea of the cream cheese & fresh fruit. This is delicious…YUMMM!! Anne at Simply Annes did a mango version (she did 3 of these cakes); maybe you’ll get an idea for your anniv cake. Looking forward to seeing another one soon…cheers

  20. that’s a perfect wedge of cake if ever i’ve seen one. lovely!

  21. the fruit looks so pretty.

  22. This looks fantastic, LOVE the oranges on top, it looks really light and fluffy inside aswell.

  23. I had your exact frustrations of trying to spread the buttercream on top of the raspberry. It just wouldn’t spread! And if I hadn’t been making this Easter morning, I too would have frozen each layer with the raspberry first. Reversing the process would have been an easier idea. Good job on your cake!

  24. Looks gorgeous! Can’t wait to try that frosting! Hx

  25. Your cake is beautiful! I love the raspberry “border” on the bottom…so delicious-looking!

  26. Love the fruit on top and the textured sides!

  27. mmm. I bet the cream cheese was awesome on this cake! It looks great!

  28. Yeah, I did buttercream then jam when I did my one layer. It made no sense to me to put the jam down first. I can see how people would have had issues with that.
    I do love me some cream cheese frosting. It would be hard to chose which one to use with this cake.

  29. Beautiful job Chelle! I love how you decorated it 🙂

  30. Your cake looks so delicious and beautifully decorated! I was thinking before I made this that orange would be great with this cake too, so I’ll have to try that next time!

  31. Your cake looks soooo good with all that fresh fruit on it! Great work!

  32. looks delicious as always! 🙂 p.s. the thought of mango in cake is lovely!!

  33. vraiment beau !! 🙂

  34. Your cake is simply lovely! Cream cheese sounds really yummy 🙂

  35. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    I love what you’ve done with the cake. It looks scrumptious.

    Julius from Occasional Baker

  36. I ended up piping on the buttercream – that seemed to work MUCH better. Lovely job 🙂

  37. I’ve never thought of orange and raspberry, but it sounds delicious! Yum!

  38. Cream cheese sounds nice, and I love the raspberry and orange!

  39. great combination! it looks fabulous!

  40. Beautiful cake! Cream cheese frosting is my favorite, I’m sure it was fabulous on this cake.

  41. oooh. cream cheese! Yes, that was a great idea! The cake must have tasted fantastic!

  42. oh my!! your cake is soo perfect!! i love all the flavors you played around on this one..i could already imagine the taste!! great job for this month’s challenge

  43. hey that pink inbetween looks so pretty! cool that you made changes that turned out fantastic, i will have to rty this version!

  44. LOVING the oranges and raspberries!

  45. Another fabulous cake. Help, I can’t take it anymore……
    Your cake looks lovely and moist.

  46. This cake works so well with fresh fruit… yours looks beautiful and elegant!

  47. beautiful job Chelley! i love how you stippled the frosting on the sides!

  48. Your cake looks beautiful! Your layers are perfect and the orange sounds like a divine addition!

  49. i love the orange slices on top! your cake looks so perfect (i love the fluffy sides!)

  50. […] Popular Posts Daring Bakers: Perfect Party CakeThin n’ Crispy Pizza CrustTuesdays With Dorie: A Quarterly ReviewTWD: Perfection Pound CakePot Roast […]

  51. Turned out perfect indeed! I froze the layers wit the jam o top so the buttercream would not mix. Try the meringue buttercream, it is like eating sweet perfect air, if that makes sense!

  52. This will most definitely be a recipe to use time and time again- GREAT JOB!!

  53. So pretty! I love the smoothness on top and slightly spikeyness around the edges!

  54. You did a wonderful job on your cake the decorating.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  55. Your cake looks beautiful! I had the same problems with the frosting sliding around on top of the jam. Next time I make this cake–and there will be a next time–I’m going to just use jam in between the layers and use the extra frosting for decorating the outside.

  56. I agere, this is a great cake base to use to come up with other delicious flavour creations! Cream cheese icing sounds like it would be delicious with this cake too.

  57. Chelle….this cake looks DELICIOUS!….and I am sure it tasted just as good.

    Love, Mom

  58. […] original plan for today was to use Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake (which we made for the March Daring Baker challenge), but to alter it to mimic our wedding cake, which had a mango filling. I made the mango jam, but […]

  59. your cake totally looks perfect! the raspberry filling looks delicious

  60. […] color flow circles on the bottom tier. I made a vanilla-flavored cake using Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake recipe and omitted the lemon zest and substituted vanilla extract for the lemon extract (the bride […]

  61. […] color flow circles on the bottom tier. I made a vanilla-flavored cake using Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake recipe and omitted the lemon zest and substituted vanilla extract for the lemon extract (the bride […]

  62. […] Dorie recipe (not that I am the least bit surprised). I was treated to two in one week, with the Daring Baker’s Perfect Party Cake earlier in the week, and these Gooey Chocolate Cakes for dessert on Sunday. Thanks to Leigh of […]

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