Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Bakers: Perfect Party Cake

My first Daring Bakers challenge is complete! In case you’re wondering, the Daring Bakers are a great bunch of like-minded folks who bake the same item and report on it at the end of the month. You can check their blogroll at

This month, we baked Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook “Baking – from my home to yours”. You can find the recipe at Morven's site --- HERE. Before I get into the baking I want to point out something. Remember how in one of my first posts I said, “Honestly, I'm tired of making cake and would like to move onto other things”? Ironic, huh? The first thing we bake is cake, LOL.

But it turned out OK, because I got to try another scratch white cake recipe. There was a time when I experimented with MANY scratch white cake recipes. I finally gave up when I got RAVE reviews after baking a doctored box mix cake. (Sigh... I’ve resigned myself to the fact that most folks (in my humble opinion, mind you) prefer the moist, fluffy, tenderness of box mix cake. And, I’ve got to admit, there are a lot of dry scratch cake recipes out there.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the other exciting news from this baking adventure is that I finally found a meringue buttercream that I actually LIKE!!! Woo hoooo! I’ve tried a number of Italian and Swiss meringue buttercreams and I’ve always thought I should like them, but I found them to be too rich and not right… somehow. I love meringue and I love butter (I can eat it with a spoon, which is gross to think about, I know), but I just never like them together in a buttercream. Until now. It appears that this recipe has a lower proportion of butter… maybe?

The results? I give the cake a solid “B”.

I made the lemon version and it had a nice hint of lemon but not overwhelmingly so, even though I accidently added twice the amount of lemon zest to the cake batter. It seemed the buttercream had more lemon flavor than the cake.

The cake had a nice, tight crumb, which I like. I thought it was a tiny bit dry, though. But as I mentioned, I think this is common with scratch cake. Also, it didn’t rise as much as I’d like even though I used cake flour (as was suggested might be the problem for some). My layers were only 1-1/4 inch tall rather than the normal 2 inches.

I split the layers and filled with raspberry as directed, but I only used buttercream in the middle layer, since the layers were thin. I thought buttercream on every layer might be a bit much.

Overall, it was a tasty piece of cake. The filling and icing made the dryness not as noticeable. I would consider baking this again. I would try a few modifications, however… perhaps try adding some simply syrup to the baked cake layers to moisten them and also bake another layer or two to make the cake taller.So, here it is. My Van Gogh-inspired version of Perfect Party Cake (after one of the daisies was attacked by my dear child (little stinker)):

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