Monday, March 31, 2008
Daring Bakers - perfect party cake
A sweet treat was on the agenda for this month's Daring Bakers challenge. Hostess Morven chose a recipe for "Perfect Party Cake" from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours. Dorie's introductory notes to the recipe were glowing: "Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you'll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration ... The cake is snow-white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen - no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and it tastes just as you'd want a party cake to taste - special."
I must admit that I was a little sceptical when I read these notes, as it seems extravagantly high praise for a cake. However, having made the cake, I now agree with Dorie's sentiments. This is an easy cake to make but the end result belies the simplicity - it looks impressive and tastes even better than it looks. My panel of eager cake-tasters did not believe me when I told them how easy this cake was to make. The cake is a basic butter cake, flavoured with lemon, and split into layers that are sandwiched together with raspberry jam and a rich buttercream or whipped cream. I chose to use the option to substitute whipped cream for the buttercream, as I couldn't stomach the thought of an icing made with 375g butter! Although the buttercream sounded delicious, I thought the raspberry jam and whipped cream made a delicate combination that suited the cake's subtle flavour.
The cake's ingredients were simple: flour (I used plain flour instead of cake flour and it didn't seem to affect the final result), baking powder, salt, milk or buttermilk, egg whites, sugar, lemon zest, butter and lemon extract. A slightly unusual twist was to whisk the egg whites and milk together. I had expected that I would have to beat the egg whites until they were stiff but this was not the case - the tablespoon of baking powder gave the cake enough rising power to not need the extra from fluffy egg whites. The cake was baked in two tins, split in half when cool and then sandwiched together to make an impressive-looking layer cake.
Thanks to Morven for choosing such a wonderful recipe. I've not come across Dorie's books before but am now inspired to search them out. This cake is going into the "definitely make again" file. It is very versatile and would be suitable for a birthday, elegant afternoon tea or a glamorous dessert.