The perfect party cake for the Daring bakers…

by Sunita on March 30, 2008

It’s that time of the month again..time to post the results of our daring bakers monthly challenge. I was unable to complete last month’s challenge, but was determined not to let this one go by.

The challenge that was put before us this month was Dorie’s (Dorie Greenspan) ‘Perfect party cake’, chosen by Morven. The recipe has been taken from Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking from My Home to Yours’. It is basically a lemon flavoured layered cake. But the best bit about this month’s challenge is that we were allowed lots of room to play around with the basic recipe.

The following is the recipe that was given to us for the perfect party cake…

For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour {substitute for cake flour :- one cup sifted cake flour can be substituted with 3/4 cup (84 grams) sifted bleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch}
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
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.

Allowed modifications-

We were allowed to play around with the flavour of the preserves. In fact we could do what ever we want with this cake as long as we promised to use the basic cake recipe and the basic buttercream recipe(if we used any buttercream) . We were also allowed to bake it in any shape we wanted as long as it was a layered cake.

What I did-

I made my cake with the basic lemon flavoured recipe in an 8 inch cake pan instead of the 9. I then cut out the layers to consist of 5” diameter circles as I did not want a very big cake (the trimmings, were, of course, lapped up as well :-) ). I filled each cake layer with some strawberry jam, followed by plain buttercream, which was then followed by a few slices of fresh strawberry. The cake was then covered with marzipan. I spread a little buttercream, round the sides of the cake , which was then covered with some toasted dessicated coconut. The top was piped with buttercream with a border on the edge (jazzed up with a few silver balls), and wavy lines on the rest of the surface.

I have made butercream and marzipan before, so had no problems with them. The basic cake recipe was quite easy as well. All in all, we liked the cake, though it just a teeny bit sweeter. I also had leftovers in the form of the egg yolks and cake trimmings. The latter was eagerly devoured by Dinesh who loves plain lemon flavoured cakes, and with the former, I made something which I will post later on.

But, anyway, thanks Morven, for choosing this delightful cake…had fun making it :-)

So, now that the cake is

…all you have to do is…

and then…

and lastly…

Let the party begin!!

Previous daring baker challenges-

Strawberry mirror cake

Milk chocolate and caramael tart

Cinnamon/sticky buns

Tender potato bread

Yule log

Lemon meringue pie

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 creampuff April 3, 2008 at 12:48 am

Perfect. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Stunning. I could go on and on!


2 Indian Girl April 3, 2008 at 11:55 pm

OH MY GOD !! Lady, your talent is beyond words!! I have seen all your cakes and I cant believe it was just one pair of hands that created them!!! Kudos to you and lots of love :)


3 madhuram April 5, 2008 at 1:04 am

Didn’t I tell you earlier that you were Ace of Cakes? Proving it again. Good Job Sunita.


4 Pravs April 6, 2008 at 5:16 pm

that looks so professional and beautiful !


5 sunita April 7, 2008 at 10:19 am

Thanks everyone, for your sweet comments…I really enjoyed the challenge :-)


6 Tartelette April 8, 2008 at 12:21 am

Fantastic job! I love the lace pattern on top!


7 Maria October 17, 2008 at 8:11 pm

Hi Sunita

First time here. You have a very nice blog, the pictures are really amazing :)



8 Vidya February 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Hi Sunitha,
The cake looks amazing. Just one doubt. What is the flour that you used here? Is cake flour available in the UK? If yes, could you please let me know the brand? Thank you


9 Sunita February 9, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Hi Vidya, one cup sifted cake flour can be substituted with 3/4 cup (84 grams) sifted bleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (15 grams) cornstarch. Maybe I should update the post with this info. Thanks for asking.

I am not sure if the cake flour can be found in the UK, at least I have not seen it.


10 Vidya February 9, 2011 at 11:54 am

Hi Sunita,

Your cake is really tempting . Please please please tell me what flour you used.



11 Sunita February 9, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Check above, Vidya.


12 Sunita February 9, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Check above, Vidya :-)


13 Vidya February 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Thanks, alot for this Sunitha… cant wait to try it.

Thank you so much,


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