Dec 20, 2010

Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

Have you seen this cake floating around the blogosphere? I know that I have - for awhile, too. It's clearly very popular, and with good reason.

There was a retirement that needed a cake and after much deliberation, I finally decided on this cake (after testing other cakes that were too dry or too boring). I bake the cake and what do you, the cake didn't rise! So of course, I did the only logical thing, I turned to Google. Well lo and behold, many people had the same issue! Knowing that I was going to have to bake more layers, I tried one of the semi flat cakes and what do you know - it was delicious! Perfectly moist and not dense at all. Hmm...interesting. So onward I went. I ended up baking 8 cakes so that I would have to four layer cakes in the end. That was a lot of cake flour and lemon zesting, but it was worth it! The cakes turned out great and everyone loved it!! James brought a piece (or two) home for me to try and it was very good!

I will say that I thought the lemon buttercream filling was too lemony to frost the cake with, so I took what was leftover after filling the cakes and added room temperature butter and powdered sugar to make a less lemony buttercream. There was no method to my madness at that point, I just added two sticks of butter and started with 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, tasted and went from there. I'm glad that I did that, I think it might have been lemon overload, otherwise.

I can honestly see this cake in our future for a long time to come, even with all of the changes that had to be made!! It really is a delicious and impressive cake.

Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake
from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

For the Cake
2¼ cups (9 ounces) cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1½ cups (10½ ounces) 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 stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

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 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:
1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
3. 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.
4. 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:
1. 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.
2. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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. 6. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To 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. 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.
3. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top, as desired.

Serve cake at room temperature.


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