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:
PERFECT PARTY CAKE
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
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
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.