Daring Bakers – My not so Perfect Party Cake

Gladly I accepted this month’s Daring Bakers challenge – hosted by Morven – and tried to bake the Perfect Party Cake. Unfortunately I failed and I have to acknowledge it was my fault.

The original recipe makes a huge cake, so I decided to half the recipe. I have only one baking ring so I decided to bake the cake in this 16 cm ring instead of two. Bad idea, I let it bake longer but it was not baked through. Unfortunately I noticed this only the next day.

Daring Bakers - Aesthetically challenged Party Cake

I hate to waste food, so I did go one and made the buttercream, of course it separated but this time I was warned (see below in the recipe) and it came together again. Hooray!

We were allowed to play around with the recipe (big thankyou to Morven!), so I added some Kirsch to the buttercream, soaked the „under baked“ cake as well with Kirsch, filled it with canned cherries and topped it with icing sugar and almond flakes.

The result – tadaa:

Perfect Not so Perfect Party Cake – still edible even if doesn’t look so

Daring Bakers - Aesthetically challenged Party Cake
The masterpiece in his glory *hahaha*

Daring Bakers - Aesthetically challenged Party Cake
and cut.

Perfect Party Cake Recipe – the original

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) – I used Kirsch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable – I used canned cherries
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut – I used almond flakes

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.

Daring Bakers - Aesthetically challenged Party Cake

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.

Daring Bakers - Aesthetically challenged Party Cake

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.

More entries and recipes in English.

Daring Bakers
To see real Perfect Party Cakes visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll

November 2007 Challenge – Tender Potatoe Bread
December 2007 Challenge – Yule Log
January 2008 Challenge – Lemon Meringue Pie
February 2008 Challenge – French Bread

52 Gedanken zu „Daring Bakers – My not so Perfect Party Cake

  1. The last challenge for me sounds a bit like yours this time. I kept at it just like you did and the results were good! I like the idea of the cherries and hadn’t thought of using them. I need to have another go and be more creative!

  2. Who cares about all that? I think being ‚daring‘ is to try. Which you did. And did so every month without ducking out.

  3. I think you are being too hard on yourself. The cake looks great. I love the almonds on the outside and I’m sure they made a nice partner with the cherries. YUM! Thanks for particpating.

  4. No-so-perfect? I disagree. But, if you’d like, bring it over here so I can try it in person. I will have to eat it to be sure. :)

  5. I think that after all the cake turned out rather nice even if it didn’t seem so along the way! Your photo of the whole cake is really beautiful and I love what you did with the decoration. You should be proud of your effort. Kudos to you.

  6. Hey Zorra you win some…& enjoy some. I like your spirit girl. The cake looks great & I LOVE the slice. It’s luscious & so inviting. Great post…I laughed through a lot of it!! Take care

  7. I think it looks fantastic! I am sure that the fruit fillings made up for the cake layer baking issue. You did great given the circumstances!

  8. REPLY:
    your cake looks perfect to me!! i would definitely accept with open arms a slice of this cake :-) well done for this month’s challenge

  9. You know Zorra I was thinking of you when I read the bit about the buttercream curdling . I had to smirk. But that’s Dorie who will warn you about this things. I love your cake and do not know why you are complaining. The cherries is an elegant treat.

  10. I’m not sure that isn’t perfect?! I like the rustic look to the cake and the cherries were a stroke of brilliance!

  11. Zorra,

    I love the cherries! Sorry if the cake didn’t turn out exactly like you wanted … I’d still have a piece though!

  12. Hey, not wasting food is totally admirable. Congratulations on finishing it even though it started badly. It still looks tasty!

  13. my cake turned out like yours.
    your one still looked lovely anyway. we’ll just have to wait for next month and hope to have better success :-)

  14. Oooh, I can almost taste those sour cherries. I bet they were the perfect complement to the sweetness of the buttercream. And Kirsch? Sheer genius!

  15. I am so sorry it was undercooked.. however the end result looks fantastic!!! yumm Kirsch!!! I would love to have some of that cake right now.. the cherries look so amazing !! Congratulations on your challenge

  16. Fantastic job saving the cake! I love the idea of cherry filling …mmm! I think the end result makes up for any errors. What delicious looking cake.

  17. Hallo! Schade, dass Dein Kuchen nicht so geworden ist, wie Du ihn Dir vorgestellt hast! Vielleicht klappt es ja naechstes Mal? Du koenntest Die Teile nacheinander backen…
    Meiner ist leider auch nicht so toll. Der Teig ist nicht wirklich hochgegangen und war nicht so luftig. Was ich da wohl falsch gemacht hatte?

  18. I would love a bite of your cake right now! Thank you for sharing your experience, even if you did feel it was less than successful. The mistakes others make are great to learn from, especially when they are so well compensated for by your creativity.

    And your experience with buttercream, on this post and on your yule log post, are tremendously encouraging for me. I made my first buttercream for my attempts at macarons, and twice it separated slightly. The first time I saved it by whisking it over a hot water bath, but the second time this didn’t really seem to work. I’ll try whipping longer next time (the exact opposite of what you should do for a separated ganache I guess).

  19. ich finde, dass dein kuchen gut ausschaut. aber wie kannst du auch einen tag abwarten, bis du ihn machst??? ich würd vor neugierde sterben! hehehe.. rezept ist jedenfalls notiert.

  20. I think it still looks perfect, because it looks like it tasted really good. In the end, I think that’s all that matters.

  21. Bah, perfection is overrated- Your cake sounds delicious all the same! Besides, it looks pretty damn good if you ask me..!

  22. You still made the cake look absolutely delicious! Your brilliant! The cherries are so cheerful and the cake sliced beautifully. =D

  23. Zorra I find your cake looks great.I love the addition of cherries. Who would know about the small imperfections once all assembled?

  24. I am sorry that this cake did not work out for you. I too only have one pan so I had to bake in two batches. I the true spirit I think you made that best out of it and in the end I am sure that it was ok.

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