Sunday, March 30, 2008

Perfect Party Cake for a homecoming

This month's challenge was from one of my favorite cookbooks, Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dori Greenspan. Although I've made many of the recipes from the cookbook I had not made the Perfect Party Cake yet. I was excited to make this cake and wanted to make it for a special occasion. I almost made it for our family Easter, but decided to save it for an even more special occasion. Hubs came home for 2 weeks from Iraq today and I couldn't think of a better time for a celebration cake! So I made the cake last night and waited until today to fill it because I was using fresh berries. The cake looked great when it came out of the oven and smelled even better. The layers were a little thinner than I had hoped but slicing the layers was no problem. In fact I had no problems with the cake except for the getting greedy with the filling. I decided at the last minute that I'd add a layer of lemon curd over a layer of strawberry preserves (that I made a couple days ago) and a layer of fresh berries.

I put whipped cream in the middle layer and on the outside of the cake and the rest of the lemon curd on the top of the cake. It was fantastic, but less than beautiful. The cake held up really well to all the fillings. However the lemon curd being a last minute decision, didn't really have the opportunity to really set up. So it kind of ran down the sides a bit. If I make it again, I'd make the lemon curd the night before, so it could be very cold.

See not beautiful, but very tasty! That's what happens when you get greedy with your fillings! My mom said it was like a trifle without the bowl. Welcome home Hubs, I've missed you!
Thanks Morven for a fun challenge! Check out all the other DB'rs cakes!

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.

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.


Cynthia said...

I'd love to have a piece of that cake and hubs coming home for 2 weeks is more than deserves a celebration.

Susan said...

The cake is lovely and I can't think of a better celebration-cake-worthy occasion. Enjoy your time together.

breadchick said...

Well I'd say this calls for CAKE! And the perfect party cake at that.. heck, I'll be even if it wasn't the perfect cake (which it was) you hubs would have loved it just the same.

Enjoy your two weeks with each other!

Bellini Valli said...

A big hug and kisses to your husband who is home now. This cake was perfect for the celebration:D

Deborah said...

What a wonderful occasion to celebrate! Your cake is lovely - enjoy the time you have with your hubby!

glamah16 said...

What a celebration. The husbands home and tasty cake .What a more lovely way than to show your love.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That is reason for a party and I think you did beautifully with all the fillings, not greedy just over the top happiness!! Very well done!!

Gretchen Noelle said...

How great that you could celebrate something really special! Enjoy your two weeks with him!

Gigi said...

Great cake and fantastic reason to celebrate!

marye said...

yummy! it looks gooey and great. :)..and yeah, a bit trifle-y

Baking Soda said...

I can't think of a better occasion than this to party! Beautiful cake and the addition of the lemon curd on top makes it so luscious!
Enjoy your time together!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your cake looks delicious! Very well done! Have a great time...



Ann said...

It looks so moist and delicious and I bet the combination of whipped cream and lemon curd was fabulous!

ChichaJo said...

Aw! What a wonderful cake to come home to...and never mind all the fillings! The more the merrier :) Enjoy you time with hubs!!!

Rosie said...

This cake is lovely and what a great way to celebrate hubby coming home! Enjoy the cake and your time together :D

Rosie x

Proud Italian Cook said...

I would say that's cause for celebration for sure! Welcome home Hubs!

HoneyB said...

Looks good enough for me to eat! I love lemon curd!

Kate / Kajal said...

gimme a slice of that cake now :p

Anne said...

With all those yummy fillings I'm sure it came out super delicious :) Well done!

Elle said...

Super yummy! Lemon curd is always a great filling...never too much even if it makes it a more comfy looking creation. Wish I had a fork to dig into that.

Dhanggit said...

oh this is definitely stunning cake dear!! great entry for this month's challenge :-)

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Hi...there's beauty in the run downs, they have a charm of there own. What better way to so thrilled for you! Have a wonderful 2 weeks...your cake looks absolutely luscious & bursting with love.

Gabi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabi said...

The lemon curd over the strawberry jam sound wonderful! Congrats on the leave with the hubs. My son is in Iraq and he won't be home on leave until Oct so I can empathize with how great it is to have a homecoming!
Take care and tell your DH thanks for his service and best wishes!

Katie said...

Your cake looks wonderful. I love the addition of the lemon curd. Looks delicious.

JMom said...

I was just going to say that I love that yellow curd that looked like it was ready to go over the edge....

Then read your comment about about it being that the curd didn't set long enough and it was a last minute decision to put it on top.

I think it was a happy accident. I love the looks of it.

SaraLynn said...

Your cake is lovely!

and i saw the post below...yum strawberry preserves!

Julia said...

Oh! I did lemon curd too - it just went so well with the cake, huh? I hope your hubby enjoyed it. If you don't post again for the next two weeks we'll know why ;-)

Ben said...

I think it looks beautiful. Anything that smells and tastes good can't be ugly, right? Congrats on a great challenge completed.

Angel said...

Woot Welcome home for your hubby! He must be very happy to come home to a loving woman and a love baked cake. I'd take extra filling over looks any day on a cake. Fantastic!!!

Claire said...

I love your mom's description...a trifle without a bowl! Wonderful

Sheltie Girl said...

Your cake is a perfect welcome home treat. You did a fabulous job and I know he'll love it. I hope you have a wonderful time together.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Molly Loves Paris said...

In my opinion taste takes precedence over looks every time. And what's not to love about a cake that tastes like a trifle. What a great treat for a welcome home.