daring bakers: perfect party cake


it’s time for this month’s daring bakers challenge - dorie greenspan’s perfect party cake, as chosen by morven from food art and random thoughts.

this is a recipe for a white cake and a hot meringue buttercream which dorie (nope, i’ve no idea who she is either) claims is the perfect party cake, given it’s versatile and easy-going nature. we were given the option to customise our cake (check out the full list of daring bakers to see what people chose) but i decided to stick with a lemon flavoured cake and icing with a jam filling.

so, how did i get on?

cake - making the cake was easy enough and it’s a nice cake, light but with a reasonably dense crumb which makes it easy to handle. however, it is a bit temperamental if you are concerned about getting your cake to rise – you’ll see i chose to do a three layer cake rather than four (made by splitting each in half) for this reason.

buttercream – this was a complete disaster. if you visit meeta’s blog you can see the full recipe (as well as her cute little cakes) – my buttercream wouldn’t thicken so i used a simpler recipe from my childhood which worked brilliantly well and would be a good choice if you’re not sure about the egg whites in dorie’s icing

the final verdict:

would i have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of the daring bakers challenge? not unless i was looking for a way to use up eight egg whites!

would i try this recipe again in the future? no. the cake was nice enough and kept well (four days later it was still moist) but there was nothing interesting about it to make me want to go back to it. part of me is tempted to try the meringue buttercream again(i don’t like being beaten!) but it’s not very appealing and again, unless i’m looking for a way to use up egg whites i don’t think i’ll bother.

dorie greenspan’s perfect party cake

for the cake

2 ¼ cups plain flour minus, 2 ½ tablespoons of the flour*

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups of milk

4 egg whites

1 ½ cups sugar

grated zest of 2 lemons

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ teaspoon lemon oil

for the buttercream **

300g unsalted butter, at room temperature

500g icing sugar

zest of 1 lemon

splash of milk, if needed

for filling

100g jam (i used strawberry), warmed gently until spreadable

preheat the oven to 180c. grease two 9x2 inch round cake tins and line the bottom of each with greaseproof paper.

sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl and set aside.

put the sugar and lemon zest in your food processor and mix until the sugar is moist and fragrant. add the butter and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale in colour and light and fluffy. beat in the lemon oil, 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 2 minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.

divide the batter between the two cake tins and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula, creating a slight dip in the middle. bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a skewer inserted into the centre 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, beat the butter in your food processor until it is pale in colour. gradually add the icing sugar and lemon zest, beating well each time. if the mixture gets too stiff add a little milk to create a softer texture.

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 serving plate. spread with one third of the jam (or half if you only have three layers). top with another layer, spread with jam and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam). place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the buttercream to frost the sides and top (make sure the cake is at room temperature so it doesn’t melt the buttercream!). top with a sprinkling of lemon zest.

* the original recipe calls for cake flour and this adjustment is made when plain flour is used instead

** this is the buttercream i made, for the original dorie greenspan version visit…