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.


mimi said...

your cake looks beautiful! i wish i had tried the whipped cream between the layers ... 375grams *is* a lot of butter! :)

my food affair said...

your layers looks so nice and thick. i wasn't able to get much rise out of my layers!! congrats on a beautiful cake! -kk

Melinda said...

Hello Melinda, I saw your name on the DB blogroll and thought I should pay you a visit. I am a Melinda too, but in the UK. This was my second DB challenge.
It was rather a lot of butter in the buttercream! It was very easy to work with but I personally would like something not so...buttery. The cream would be better between the layers, so good choice. I did think the cake was excellent. Very moist, tender and good crumb. I will make this cake recipe again.
Your cake layers are very well risen. Some people had pancakes!
Well, I will visit again. Cheers

Miss Ifi said...

I am glad that you were pleasantly surprised by the cake.. that is what Daring Bakers are all about.. trying new things and being surprised by them. Congratulations on your challenge!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a lovely job on your cake!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go go