Saturday, March 29, 2008

Daring Bakers.


When it was first announced that Morven had chosen Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake as the March Daring Bakers challenge I thought "Eeeeeeasy!"

I'm sure it was easy, and probably enjoyable for most of the DBs, but me... yeah, not me. I just suck at following directions. So when Dorie told me to layer raspberry jam and buttercream in between the cake layers, I listened. But then I couldn't stop. I was on a roll and put raspberry jam ON TOP of my cake. I did. Sigh.

Oh, and besides that, my buttercream wouldn't spread. Well it would spread but it took the jam with it which just turned the buttercream pink and made me cry a little. So I called in the husband because he puts floors in for a living so surely he could level out my pink buttercream.


At this point I has given up all hope. I was ready to start another cake but Spencer kept at it and eventually got it looking semi-normal. Even if it was pink.


(Shortly after he had fixed my screw ups Spencer said to me "Why didn't you just put the jam on one layer and the buttercream on another and smush them together?" Where was he with that advice when I really needed it?!)

We ended up taking the cake to Spencer's mom's for Easter and pretended it was supposed to be pink in honor of the holiday. Unfortunately, I married into a family of buttercream haters so this cake was not their favorite. And I understand, because I won't eat buttercream either. The cake part was really tasty though so I may try the recipe with a cream cheese frosting or something.

So thank you Morven for choosing this recipe and for indirectly teaching me that I need to follow instructions better from now on.

Go check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see what the cake is really supposed to look like. There are some gorgeous ones out there that made me want to try this cake one more time.


For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
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.

The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.


CB said...

Loved reading your story! At least your hubs tried to help. I have a feeling T would just laugh at me if I asked him to help! I have to admit that I am not a good froster. It seems like it would be easy but its totally not! I still think your final cake looks fabulous. Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Ben said...

It might be pink, but it is still pretty :D

A little advice when spreading icing on a cake, before spreading submerge the knife, or whatever utensil you are working with, in water and that will make it a lot easier because the icing will stick to the cake and not the knife. That's something my mom taught me some years ago :-p


L Vanel said...

Well great idea, jam on one side and butter cream on the other. Also the water idea coming from Ben. I also had it slipping and sliding all over the place, smearing, gooing out, etc. However doesn't the coconut just make everything all better? Beautiful cake in the end. Thanks for taking me on your journey.

Deborah said...

Even with the problems, I think it looks great!!

kitten said...

you should definitely try this cake again because it will go with any type of frosting you decide to put on it. at least it looks adorable !

eggsonsunday said...

I had the same problem with the jam and buttercream slipping around and mixing together...not good for those of us who are perfectionists! Your cake turned out lovely! :)

Dhanggit said...

this is definitely beautiful entry for this month's challenge!! great job!!

Lunch Buckets said...

I would have totally acted like it was supposed to be pink! I think it turned out nice anyway :)

Miss Ifi said...

Well I don't know what you are talking about.. I prefer my cakes to be pink *giggles* I love the advise that your husband gave you after the fact though.. I still think that your cake looks mighty fine. Congratulations!!!

Randi said...

don't be silly, i love that your cake is pink! it seems a lot of people have this problem. looks beautiful to me.. and if husbands aren't for fixing problem, what are they for? :)