#3 Daring Bakers Do Dorie [Greenspan]

March 30, 2008 at 12:23 am 42 comments

After that last 10-hour Daring Baker February challenge I was ready for almost anything this month! ;)

So I was pleasantly surprised when our DB host picked Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake for the March Challenge. I currently belong to the Tuesdays w/ Dorie baking group too and if you know me well, you know I love 2fors. LOL. Not sure how “daring” it was esp after that 10 hour french bread last month but like I usually do with recipes, I made it more complicated than it really should have been and therefore more daring so its all good. haha.

I decided to make this self-proclaimed “perfect party cake” for my husband’s family Easter gathering on Sunday. The recipe itself isn’t complicated but it did take me about 4 hours from start to finish. That includes prep time, baking time, cooling time, assembling time and decorating time. Since it was for a family dinner I wanted to use my new found Wilton cake decorating skills and really impress my in-laws. Hey… I gotta preserve my place as the favorite daughter-in-law. haha. And let’s just say… I rocked da house with this one. I should rename it – The No Leftovers Cake.

Hosted by Morven @ Food Art and Random Thoughts
Check out the Daring Baker’s Blogroll to see more cake…


(Recipe from DG’s Baking: from My Home to Yours, page 250-252 | photos from me!)


For cake
2-1/4 cups cake flour (See notes)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk (I used buttermilk per Dorie’s suggestion)
4 large egg whites
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (It was about 1 large lemon for me)
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

[NOTES: I substituted 3/4 cup AP flour+2 tbsp cornstarch for 1 cup cake flour. My cake didn’t rise as much as I preferred so I ended up making 1-1/2 batches to get 3 layers. Not sure if it was my cake flour substitution or not.]

For buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (It was about 2 lemons for me)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves (I used strawberry preserves)
About 1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut


Center 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.

[NOTES: I used this helpful trick that I read in fellow TWDer, Jaime’s, blog to make a perfect size parchment liner for my cake pan.]

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together 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.

Click image to enlarge
I like the little flecks of lemon zest you can see in the batter.

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.

I used my KA mixer bowl so that I didn’t have to transfer anything or wash extra dishes

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. (I used a #12 piping tip and buttercream to make a little barrier before I spread the preserves)

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.

Dorie’s Notes:
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.

How I made my cake: I added fresh strawberries to my cake per Dorie’s Berry Cake recommendations but I put mine on top of the preserve layer (instead of on top of the buttercream layer) and then put the buttercream over it. To decorate I used #21 star tip to make the shell border around the bottom of cake and around the top of the cake. I also made a smaller circular shell border in the middle of the top layer. I used a round cookie cutter to slightly indent for a guide line. Then I nuked 1/2 cup strawberry preserves in microwave for about 10 secs to get a thinner consistency and tossed with strawberry slices. Use the strawberry+preserve mixture and fill in between shell borders. Sprinkle with some shredded coconut. Finish simply with a royal icing Easter lily for the center.

Click image to enlarge


Husband rating: A+
He loved this cake and I lost count on how many slices he had! haha

Wifey rating: A+
I really love the combination of lemon cake and strawberries (preserves and fresh). The meringue buttercream was so light compared to regular buttercream. I can see why Dorie calls it the “perfect party cake”.

Other rating: A+
My hubs’ family all could not believe I made this cake from scratch. They loved the flavors and there were no leftovers. :)

Entry filed under: cake, Daring Bakers.

Foodie Question of the Day NFR: To the future and beyond…

42 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ann  |  March 30, 2008 at 2:54 am

    Beautiful! And your layers looks so nice and tall (as opposed to mine, which just just didn’t rise very well)! Love the way you finished the cake, too. Really pretty!

  • 2. Gretchen Noelle  |  March 30, 2008 at 3:28 am

    Gorgeous cake Clara! Wonderful process shots to see your piping skills. Love the ideas! Strawberry sounds like a wonderful treat in this cake. Great job!

  • 3. slush  |  March 30, 2008 at 5:38 am

    Beautiful cake Clara! I would be so proud if I were you. You really churched it up. ;)

  • 4. Ben  |  March 30, 2008 at 6:04 am

    That is one beautiful cake. I am glad I was not the only one to go with strawberries instead. I just think cakes and strawberries are the perfect combination.

    Congratulations on another completed challenge :D

  • 5. NinaBeth  |  March 30, 2008 at 6:11 am

    So pretty Clara! I love that you used the word “nuked” in your post. :) You have come such a long ways since last August when you tried to make oatmeal-less Oatmeal cookies. :)

  • 6. Lucy V  |  March 30, 2008 at 6:50 am

    I think that your idea to put the ring around the layer to hold in the preserves was an excellent one! The cake turned out beautifully!

  • 7. Deeba  |  March 30, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Hey Clara…great challenge & am glad it came out so GOOD!! It does look beutiful…thanks for the Wilton deco class. I lapped up a load of techniques from your post. Beautiful cake!!

  • 8. Jerry  |  March 30, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Love the rating by your husband and others! Great job!

  • 9. bombshellwithin  |  March 30, 2008 at 10:42 am

    zomg, girl, your cake is tall and fierce! Well done! It’s just beautiful. Automated cake decorater thingies step aside, you’ve got some mad skillz!

  • 10. Jenny  |  March 30, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Very beautiful! What fun it is to look at all the DB’ers cakes. Yours looks great!

  • 11. April  |  March 30, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Beautiful! I bet it tasted even better with the sliced strawberries!

  • 12. kay  |  March 30, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    oh i love the flower! that is one gorgeous cake!

  • 13. Isa  |  March 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Great idea the fresh berries. Great job! Your cakes looks amazing.

  • 14. Erin  |  March 30, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Your cake looks so beautiful with the strawberries! It is so beautifully decorated!

  • 15. Michelle  |  March 30, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Looks so great! And piping a border was a genius idea – would have saved me from oozing jams!

  • 16. Namratha  |  March 30, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Very neatly layered, pretty cake! And the Easter Lily on top is pretty too :)

  • 17. Kristen  |  March 30, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    OMG your cake is beautiful!

    I love the lily in the middle. I thought it was a real one!!

  • 18. Tina  |  March 30, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    hehe.. I thought of strawberry, LOVE strawberry..your cake looks wonderful!! and that flower is gorgeous!! Thanks for stoppin by!

  • 19. katy  |  March 30, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    gorgeous!!! i give it an A+ too!

  • 20. heather  |  March 30, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I love the flower! I need to get practicing my Wilton skills too. I haven’t made any Royal Icing flowers since class!

  • 21. Julius  |  March 30, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    Your cake is absolutely stunning! I love the step by step photos.

    Julius from Occasional Baker

  • 22. Lesley  |  March 30, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Your decoration is very elegant, very pretty! Nice job!

  • 23. kate  |  March 30, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    yours looks yum! i love the flower!

  • 24. Gigi  |  March 30, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Out of this world cake decorating skills! Nicely done. :)

  • 25. Suzana  |  March 31, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Awesome! What a beautiful and delicious looking cake. Great job on the challenge.

  • 26. Candace  |  March 31, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Oh yum… Looks so fluffy! Love the addition of strawberries!

  • 27. KN  |  March 31, 2008 at 6:44 am

    Oh, wow! I LOVE the strawberries!! It looks awesome!!

  • 28. Amber  |  March 31, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Beautiful cake!! I used strawberry filling too, yum tum. To the next challenge we go.

  • 29. Jenny  |  March 31, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Beautiful work! Your cake looks wonderful.

  • 30. Tartelette  |  March 31, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Amazing cake! I love the use of strawberries inside and out! Simply gorgeous!

  • 31. Kristina  |  March 31, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Your cake looks AMAZING! I’m so jealous!

  • 32. Anne  |  March 31, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Wow, that looks SO beautiful it makes me want to go bake it right now! Great job!

  • 33. HowToEatACupcake  |  April 1, 2008 at 9:48 am

    That’s so gorgeous! I bet it was delicious!

  • 34. Natalie  |  April 1, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    That is a gorgeous cake – great job decorating!

  • 35. Beth G  |  April 1, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    That is truly gorgeous!! What a beautiful job you did :O)

  • 36. Ashley  |  April 2, 2008 at 5:16 am

    Beautiful cake! I need to try that trick of doing a “barrier” of icing to hold in the filling/preserves on each layer.

  • 37. Andrea  |  April 2, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Now that’s a beautiful no-leftovers cake! Congrats! Your cake layers look so nice and fluffy!

  • 38. the airy fairy  |  April 4, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    your cake looks fabulous! i LOVE that flower and also the inclusion of fresh fruit! yummy-licious!

  • 39. Lisa  |  April 5, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Well I can see how it was the no left-overs cake! Beautiful job, Clara :)


  • 40. Sheltie Girl  |  April 6, 2008 at 5:50 am

    Your cake is simply gorgeous. I love your royal icing Easter lily, it’s a beautiful touch.

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  • 41. Claire  |  April 6, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I love the way you decorated with the flower…so pretty! Great job.

  • 42. havis  |  July 15, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    nice blog


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