Sunday, 30 March 2008

Perfect Party Cake - Daring Bakers

I'm starting to feel pretty left out now. Last month I had no idea who Julia Child was... This month, it was Dorie Greenspan that gave me the 'owls' - ya know, Who? Who? Who?

Sorry, you guys are gonna have to get a really large hammer and knock me on the head. I know most of you will be rolling your eyes and calling me all sorts of names... but hey, I'm serious, I had never heard of Dorie before. The only Dory I know of is the Fish.

So anyway, as usual, I did a search and it appears that Dorie isn't half as famous as Julia Child. Neither is she half as famous as Jamie Oliver nor Nigella Lawson (I do like her!! and I mean Her!) How do I get to this conclusion? Well simply because Dorie doesn't have a writeup on Wikipedia, while the rest do. Doesn't matter really. It appears that Dorie is rather famous - and good too by the looks and sound of things. Her books that is...

This months challenge was hosted by Morven and she selected Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake. The recipe is basically a layered sponge cake filled with rasberry jam and lemon flavoured buttercreama. However, Morven gave us a LOT of freedom. This is what she said:

Yes you can do what ever you want with this cake as long as you promise to use the basic cake recipe and the basic buttercream recipe. The filling/frosting flavours are completely up to you.

With these liberties accorded, I decided to layer the cake with Apricot Jam and to add cocoa to the buttercream for a lovely Chocolate Buttercream. White Sponge, Apricot Jam and Chocolate Buttercream. Sounded like a plan. The Lovely Wife was enthusiastic about this Challenge when I told her about it, as were my kids.

As usual, I woke up early on a Saturday morning to do the challenge. The timing was great as I baked this on Easter Saturday. The plan was to take it for lunch on Easter Sunday. We alternate celebrating Easter between both sets of parents and this year it was at my In-Laws.

The cake batter came together rather easily and the batter was a brilliant white. Since I didnt have 9" round pans, I used my 8" pans. No worries there. The cake was a little smaller but higher.

I let the cake cool while I pottered about the house doing some fixits. Then it was time to start on the buttercream. I followed the recipe as provided except I added
4 tbsp of cocoa mixed with a little warm water to form a paste. The buttercream turned out very nicely although in retrospect, I should have added a little more cocoa - or maybe some melted chocolate.

With the buttercream nice and thick, it was time to assemble the cake. I have a cake leveller - you know, one of those things that looks like a clothes hanger with a thin wire at the base. This is perfect for cutting a cake into layers. My only regret is that in my haste, I didnt cut the layers into equal heights - some layers were higher than others. Small problem though.

I spread Apricot Jam on the layers and covered each layer with Choc Buttercream. Then after all the layers were assembled, I slathered the whole cake with the Chocolate Buttercream.

By this time, the Lovely Wife and the Kids were waiting impatiently to try a piece - but I said we had to have lunch first.

So after lunch, I brought the cake out and my two kids wanted me to take a picture of them with the cake - they are very supportive of my food blogging!

My daughter specifically wanted a picture of her pointing to the "Yummy cake you made. This is your Caring Bakers cake right Daddy??!!" [Note: NO Spelling error there - she really thought its the Caring bakers. I did explain to her though that we are the Daring Bakers although we are Caring as well!!)

I was a little reluctant to take an untested cake anywhere so it was a good idea to cut it and eat it first. Anyway, I needed my Official Testers to tell me what they thought of it.

How did the Official Testers like it?
The Lovely Wife LOVED the cake! My son thought the cake was rather yummy while my daughter rubbed her tummy and said "mmmm'. So a thumbs up all round!

The Lovely Wife also commented that the sponge was really very, very good. She also reckoned that the cake would taste really good with Kaya (a kind of Coconut Jam). Now thats a thought!
I was planning on using the extra buttercream to pipe shells and decorate the cake a little more - but I'm sorry. I was just plain lazy...

We had another slice of cake that night too before taking to for Easter lunch the next day. The cake was a big hit at the In-Laws too! I will defintitely try this cake again but probably cover it in chocolate ganache rather than buttercream. Or maybe, layer it with some fruits and cream, or maybe some creamed cheese. The possibilities are really endless with this cake. I guess that's why its called the Perfect Party Cake!

You can find the rest of the Daring Bakers at the Official Daring Bakers Blogroll to see how they fared with this challenge.

This is the recipe as given:

Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250).
For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour (updated 25 March)
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
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 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
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 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, about 3 minutes.
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 or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
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.
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. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

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 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.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

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.


KJ said...

i love the flavour combination - chocolate and apricot. It sound delicious. Your cake looks perfect - so light and fluffy.

Courtney said...

your cake looks wonderful, love the 'caring bakers' that is too cute

slush said...

Yum, love chocolate! Your cake came out beautifully Dharm. Your kids are adorable, too!

Anonymous said...

Looks beautiful! Apricot and chocolate sounds like it would go so well together!

Ben said...

Hi Dharm,

Congratulations on another challenged conquered! Don't worry about not knowing who these celebrities are, you are not alone. I didn't know Julia either until last month. I guess they are not that big outside their native countries :-p

Beautiful cake. I changed mine too a little, well a lot, you might visit my site tomorrow morning (for me) to take a look :D

Have a great day!

Anne said...

Loved the way you started your really made me smile :)
The cake is simply lovely!

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

That makes 2 of us Dharm...from Julia Child to Dorie Greenspan it was ??? all the way!! Now the Domestic Goddess is something else altogether! Loved the way your cake looks; the sponge & layers of the 'caring bakers' cake do look perfect! Your kids are ever so cute too...lovely post!

glamah16 said...

Pure glee on the little ones faces. I love the combo of chocolate buttercream and white cake. So good. I didnt know who Dorie was until I started blogging.

Pixie said...

well done on the cake- your kids are adorable- and I love the new name- 'caring bakers", I think your daughter should start a new baking group when she's of course, a bit older. :)

The Irreverent Cook said...

Hi! Haha, you cake looks like it could have been bought from Secret Recipes! Really great =)

Meeta said...

Dharm what a lovely looking chocolate cake - simply perfect!

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Great looking cake Dharm!

PheMom said...

I'm with you. Until about a month ago the only Dory in our lives was the fish too. I love your cake!

Bellini Valli said...

I hadn't heard of Dorie until I started blogging either Dharm. There is a group of ladies that blog about her every Tuesday and make something from her collection. By the way I love the chocolate twist for your cake. Great job and your cake testers approved!!!!

L Vanel said...

That cake looks amazingly delicious. Congratulations!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

It does seem a cake that can be played with endlessly.
Dharm I love the chocolate. Somehow this just didn't need much decorating did it.
Your cake leveller sounds interesting and that coconut jam also.

Kelly-Jane said...

A chocolate party cake - wonderful. You'll have to get Dorie's Baking book, I only found Dorie last year, and I couldn't believe a great baking book like that was out there - and I didn't know! Great job :)

breadchick said...

Well you sure are getting an education on the West's biggest bakers aren't you??!!

That chocolate frosting looks like fudge and I love fudge. Great job this month Dharm!

linda said...

The chocolate buttercream looks so beautiful and luscious, nearly metalic somehow.
Love the combo of chocolate and apricot.

Mary said...

OMG, 'caring bakers' - how cute is that? The combination of apricot and chocolate is very nice. Your cake looks really moist and tender.

PS: I can't believe that Dorie doesn't have a Wiki entry!

Rosie said...

a wonderful looking cake Dharm and what great flavours going on with chocolate and apricot!

jasmine said...

Hi Dharm

Don't get too hung up on the "name" associated with a recipe. In a sense it's better because there's less pressure placed on yourself...

That said, Dorie is an absolutely wonderful human being (her blog, her writing, and her emails).

Love your take on the recipe.

kellypea said...

Mmmmmm....chocolate. I was tempted, but no. And apricots? YUM. I love apricots. Cool combo. The cake looks great -- the uneven layers give it character. But your children are completely darling!

Chris said...

Yum! I like the picture of the slice and how it looks like steps! And, I love being a caring baker - we're daring caring bakers! :)

Claire said...

Wonderful! Your chocolate looks great and those kids are quite cute.

Jennywenny said...

Mmmm, that looks just delicious, you have a very lucky family, someone who bakes wonderful treats and does 'fixits' around the house while its cooling! I love reading your blog and hearing about your delightful children, they are super cute!

Namratha said...

Oh wow, Chocolate....mmm...looks gr8!

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Oooh ye, that looks great! Well done.Apricot and choc, yum! You're kids are gorgeous BTW.

Lesley said...

Your chocolate icing looks incredible. Nice job!

Rachel said...

Perfect-lloking cake there...apricot filling sounds yumm!

marye said...

Apricot and chocolate? mmm... that is almost good enough to be a title for a sixties rock song...

Congrats...great job, as always!

Glossy said...

Looks absolutely delicious. If you love baking Dorie's book is a must. I'd never heard of her until I started looking at Blogs either!

PAT A BAKE said...

Hey Dharm . your cake looks beautiful... has a sort of 'male' touch to it too...but really awesome. I showed it to my husband but he just started running...I wonder why ;)????. I luved the pic of the slice with the layers showing...really lovely. Your kids are cute too.

~nm said...

I just can't stop drooling over it!

I;m sure if I continue reading your blog, I might just revive my baking hobby soon enough!

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) said...

Lovely cake, not that is going to help much with the little weight-loss ticker on the side.

Good luck with the weight though, I understand the never ending struggle.

Princess of the kitchen said...

I like the look of your choc buttercream. Well done!

Colette said...

Good job!! I did a chocolate buttercream as well. Added cocoa and melted chocolate. Yours looks darker than mine, a much more pleasing color, haha. I really wish I could try your yummy cake!!

Nan said...

Haha, so right about Wikipedia...but someone probably just wrote an entry after reading this!

~Amber~ said...

YUM, what a wonderful looking cake! Excellent job. Congratulations on another successful "caring bakers" challenge. :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Hooray -- a chocolate version of this cake! For me, chocolate makes it perfect. And it looks like your kids approve, too.

Helen said...

That cake looks so impressive! Don't worry I'd never heard of Dorie either until I started food blogging and saw others writing about her. I think she must be American? I don't know where you live but I am in London, UK and I'd never heard a whisper before.

That icing on the cake looks so unctuous and shiny too! I am drooling!

sunita said...

Dharm,lovely cake... the layers are wonder it got a thumbs up from at your li'l princess'words...she's such a sweetie...and you're right...the DBers are a caring bunch alright :-)

Jenny said...

Hehe yes, my kids too love to see me take pictures of my baking for the blog. Great how they don't think it is odd or weird, whereas most adults just look at you funny.
Great work on the cake Dharm, and your layers give it a homemade charm. :-)

Deborah said...

I love your chocolate version! I didn't know who Dorie was before I started blogging, but I've become a convert, and have made many of her recipes now!

Lis said...

Dharm! I will totally forgive you for not knowing who Dorie is only because of this masterpiece you put together! It looks AWESOME!!

Chocolate and apricot.. good good. :D


Christina said...

This cake was a brilliant white. The traditional versions, beating the egg whites separately, sometimes gives the cake a rubbery texture which this didn't have and which I greatly appreciated.

Aww, your kids are adorable! It's great to hear that your family is as enthusiastic as you are about your food blogging.

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

Half Baked said...

Chocolate and apricot! Very creative and sounds divine! Nice job on this challenge.

marias23 said...

Ohhh, your wife is right! It would be so delicious with kaya. *droolz*

As usual, your children are so adorable! I'm very envious :)

Tartelette said...

Great cake! I love the chocolate on top. I did not kow about Dorie until this cake came about, I did not even know she knwe my sugar daddy Pierre is small I tell you! Great job on the challenge!

Elle said...

Wonderful...chocolate, apricot, and white cake. Beautifully done, too. Your kids are both super cute. I like that your daughter thinks of the DBs as caring Bakers...because we are! Great cake!

Peabody said...

Oh yum, apricot jam with chocolate buttercream. That sounds just wonderful Dharm!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Dharm that looks totally fab! Don't feel bad, I don't know who Dorie is - I liked your "The only Dory I know is a fish"! Me too!!!

Chocolate and Apricot go really well together, in fact I made something with that combination not too long ago! Great minds! :)

Katie said...

I love how you kept the cake white but turned the buttercream chocolate. its makes it look really striking. Love the sound of the coconut jam - what a fantastic idea!

Anonymous said...

caring bakers we are! Your cake looks so white and lovely, well done!

KayKat said...

Congratulations Dharm!

I love that you went around searching for info about Dorie Greenspan :)

And I'm all for using chocolate, the more chocolate freaks, the merrier!

Miss Ifi said...

Your cake looks awesome!!! apricot and chocolate buttercream sounds like a delicious combo!!! Congratulations on your challenge well done!!

creampuff said...


You have the cutest kids in food blog world! Hands down! Your cake is just so lovely. You've made me want to try it with chocolate buttercream. It was delicious even though a little more rise in the sponge would have made me a happier Daring Baker. Nice job, Dharm!


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