28 March 2008

March Daring Bakers' Challenge - Perfect Party Cake

Now cakes are my forte! I love making them and I also like experimenting with new techniques and ingredients. That is why I loved it when this challenge was chosen. I was disappointed though that some mistakes were found by other daring bakers as by then I already tried the cake and failed miserably.

It did not matter. I had my niece over and decided to make it with her. We followed the recipe exactly for the cake batter. I did feel that the amounts were not in proportion but carried on. Once the mixing was complete, I could not believe that the mix had to be divided over two 9" sandwich tins. Surely there was not enough. Still following the recipe, we put the mix in the oven and once cooked, it hardly rose but just enough to feel the texture. We did not make the frosting as we were quite eager to taste the cake and see whether it was worth carrying with a new batch. The cake was delicious and off course it was demolished by my family on the same day.

Well I tried the recipe again this time taking into consideration the alterations in the recipe. After I finished making the batter, I still consider that there is not enough for 2 sandwich tins. I wondered whether I should have double the recipe but that could be detrimental to the rising of the cake. The cake did rise but very little. I still torted the cake and filled it with home-made strawberry jam (jelly). I did think about doubling the recipe but wondered whether it would be too heavy and would not rise.

I can see flaws in the recipe. The proportion of butter to the sugar does not feel right. I thought it was most unusual to add and whisk the milk with the egg whites. Normally, I whisk the eggwhites to full peak and add this to the batter last minute. This gives the batter some air but adding the milk (or buttermilk in my case) to the eggwhites in the beginning would spoil any chance of putting air into the batter.

The frosting though was out of this world. A bit of a chore, but still very much worth making. It spread beautifully and also piped really really well. It is one recipe that I shall keep and use again despite using 12 oz of butter is a bit too expensive in my country.

I did like the finished product with the strawberries decoration and scrolls. All said, I did enjoy making the cake just because I love making cakes.

I tested it on my relatives who came round to dinner and their verdict was that it is too heavy for a sponge. They enjoyed the taste though.
March db challenge

March db challenge

March db challenge
March db challenge

March db challenge


March db challenge
click to add titlea slice of cake

Recipe for Perfect Party Cake:
For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour (updated 25 March)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
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.

This month's challenge was hosted by Marven