The Wiivers

Daring Bakers IV: Perfect Party Cake
March 30, 2008, 8:13 am
Filed under: Daring Bakers, Decorating, Dessert, Easter, Holidays

When I logged onto the Daring Bakers at the first of the month, I was somewhat dissappointed with the recipe.  A white cake really isn’t “that daring” to me, but maybe is for some people, who knows….  I decided to make this cake to take to my parents house on Easter.  So, Saturday afternoon I starting baking.

First you have to cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.

sugar butter

My cute little cakes getting a tan in the oven. 🙂


Once the cakes were baked and cooled, I wrapped them up tightly in saran wrap until I had time to decorate them Sunday.  So, on Sunday morning I woke up early so I could make the icing and ice the cakes before church.

Meringue buttercream icing is sooooo delicious.  It is worth all the time and effort that goes into making it.  First I had to whisk the egg whites and sugar on the stove to warm them up.

Egg Whites

Then, I whipped the eggwhites in my mixture until it formed a meringue like subtance.


Then add the butter and beat until it is nice and fluffy.

In my hurry while putting the cakes together, I read over the part about putting buttercream in between the layers. (Yes, I know I should know this with all the cakes I’ve made, but it actually worked out for the best by not including that icing.) Instead I spread each cake top with Strawberry preserves.  Then I put strawberry slices on top of one cake, then flipped the other cake on top (jelly side down).

Cake layers

Since neither cake rose very much, I decided not to level the cake tops off (I know, mistake mistake).  I’d rather have a crooked cake though, then not enough cake.  Once I got the layers assembled, I definetly had a test to my icing skills.  Yes, that’s about a 2 inch gap that needs to be filled.

Cake Gap

Success!  Now I just have to wait for the icing to harden a little bit.  So, I let it sit until after church.  Patiently waiting….

Pretty as a cake

Since I’ve been taking cake decorating classes, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to test out my skills. I decided to stay with the fruit them and add more fresh fruit on top.

Cake o' fruit

 This cake was very yummy.  I think it would have turned out better if the correct measurements had been posted on the Daring Bakers website but whatever.  My family and John’s family both loved the cake. We did agree the icing would be better without the lemon juice in it, just as plain vanilla buttercream.  My brother loved the cake.  He asked who brought the cake, I spoke up and said I made it. And he told me to quit lying, lol. 

If my cake wasn’t enough please visit the other Daring Bakers to see what they did with this challenge.

Recipe after the break. 🙂

Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250).

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.

For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

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).

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/24 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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.


17 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Looks amazing – I’ll take a slice with the 2 inches of frosting on top, please 😉

Comment by Nemmie

Your icing job is wonderful! I keep thinking I need to take a class.

Comment by Deborah

I absolutely love how you used the basketweave technique and made your cake a little basket of fruit. Freaking adorable! Awesome job.

Comment by CB

I love the piping on the cake with the fruit! Genius!

Comment by Jerry

You did a great job on the cake and I love the decorations!

Comment by Claire

LOVE the basket of fruit!!!!!
Was is hard to cut the strawberry slices in the middle?

We thought of strawberries but the squishing out the sides upon cutting possibility turned us off. I thought that really really ripe ones macerated in some liquor might do the trick. Will try once strawberries are in season. I’ll try to do the basket weave, too, but it will NOT come out as pretty as yours, I am sure!!

Comment by Janet of Bake Through

Oh, wow! I love the basket full of berries design. You are too clever (& nice manicure!). YES, a white cake is difficult for “some” of us!

xoxox Amy

Comment by familiabencomo

This looks AWESOME, Nina. I love it!!

Comment by amorelli76

Your cake is so damn sexy!

Comment by nikki57

That is one FANNNNCY cake! The piping is perfect and the fruit is so colorful next to it. Great job!

Comment by Lesley

Your decorating skills are amazing! Such a fun cake!

Comment by Karen


Comment by RoRo

Wow!! your decoration it’s amazing!!!

Great job!!!!!

Comment by Madeleine

Wow, no guilt eating a basket of fruit, now is there? 🙂

Comment by megan

Nice job! There’s not much worse than not enough cake – you’re surely right about that!

Comment by Lisa

So sorry about the mistakes in the recipe.

Your cake looks AMAZING! I love what you did with it and glad it worked out for you in the end.

Comment by Morven

Your cake turned out simply fabulous. I love your decorating and the picture. Great job!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Comment by Sheltie Girl

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