Monday, May 5, 2008

belated birthday cake

wow, i didn't realize how long it has been since i last posted on here. i knew i'd been somewhat neglectful of keeping things current but i didn't realize i'd gone a whole two weeks without posting anything. that's pretty bad, this week i pledge to get back on track though.
the week that i last posted also happened to be the week of delana's birthday, it was actually the day after my last post- the 22nd. since it fell right smack at the beginning of the wee
k, we each took the day off from work and just spent the time together. real low key, and relaxed. however, we were going to be celebrating it full on with her family on saturday, which brings me to the recipe i'm about to share with you. if you've ever been to, you've seen this recipe before. it seems immensely popular and i think it was either part of the daring baker's challenge or tuesdays with dorie, quite possibly both. i can't remember now. what am i talking about? i am talking about ms. greenspan's recipe for the perfect party cake and i believe the recipe originated with nick malgieri. pretty sure, not totally sure but it doesn't matter. this cake is gooodd. really good. finish it off in one sitting if your pants can stretch that far good. don't believe me? go find one of the million other bloggers who have made this cake and ask them because you'll find we pretty much all concur. you need to make this cake. it doesn't have to be made just for a party, cut the recipe down and just make it into some type of loaf/ muffin/ cupcake thing if you want and omit the buttercream. whatever excuse you can find to make it, just go with it. you won't be sorry.
will say this though: i have 2 complaints about this cake. nothing major, just minor details that were probably my fault but if you're a crappy baker like me you might have the same issues. first thing is they didn't really rise high enough to make four
layers, i got 3 by the skin of my teeth and a really steady hand with the serrated knife. second- i had a hell of a time trying to get the sides iced. it would just come off whenever i would try to like turn it and make it all pretty and smooth. again, this is probably just me because i don't ever make cakes, and i'm far from a cake decorator but it's just a potential heads up i guess.
i did also make my own tweaks:
  • i substituted the raspberry preserves with blueberry preserves that i made using frozen blueberries and a quarter cup of turbinado sugar cooked together till the mixture reaches a thick, syrupy consistency.
  • i garnished the cake using sliced lemons instead of the berries.

Perfect Party Cake
Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients for the cake:
  • 2.25 c Cake flour
  • 1 tbs Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1.25 c Whole milk or buttermilk
  • 4 Large Egg whites
  • 1 1/2 Cups Castor sugar
  • 2 Tsps Grated lemon zest
  • 1 Stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 Tsp Pure lemon extract

Ingredients for the buttercream:

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 4 Large Egg whites
  • 3 Sticks (12 ounces) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
  • 1 Tsp Pure vanilla extract
Ingredients for the finishing:
  • 2/3 Cup Seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable in consistency
  • About 1 1/2 Cups Sweetened shredded coconut (or roasted, sliced/slivered almonds)

Getting ready:
  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° 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.

Method for the cake:
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
  6. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
  7. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
  8. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
  9. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up.

  1. 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.
  2. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat.
  4. Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
  5. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
  6. 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).
  7. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
  8. 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.


  1. Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
  2. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
  3. Spread it with one third of the preserves.
  4. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
  5. 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).
  6. Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
  7. Press the coconut (or sliced almonds) into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.


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