Sunday, 30 March 2008
March Daring Bakers Challenge - The Perfect Party Cake
Well, well, here we are at my eighth Daring Baker Challenge. Can you believe it? I certainly can’t! When I first signed up, I honestly thought I wouldn’t last, and look at me now. Yes, March’s DB Challenge went well, that’s why I sound so pleased with myself. There have been some disasters over the last 8 months, as well as some mediocre moment and some great results. Although I managed to make the process of making this challenge much more complicated than it needed to be, this month’s challenge goes into the category of great results.
My gorgeous friend Kate bakes and decorates the most exquisite cake for everyone, so when I noticed her birthday coming, I decided all these Daring Bakers Challenges I’d done lately helped my confidence enough to bake Kate a cake for her birthday.
A few days later the March Challenge was set by Morven The Perfect Party Cake – how more perfect could it be! What timing. I was really looking forward tho this challenge. I read the recipe through and felt relaxed, I knew the buttercream from our December Yule Log Challenge
I got myself organised, music was blaring, the doors were open, it was a gorgeous day outside. I scrubbed my house and got into the kitchen. Once the amazing lemon-scented sugar and butter was whizzing away in my fire-engine red Kitchen-Aid I went to preheat the oven.
For those of you who haven’t figured out I am quite the bimbo at times, you’ll know for sure now – the oven door was missing. Oh no! That’s right they took it away to be repaired. I totally forgot! There I was standing in the middle of my kitchen, nearly in tears; I was that cross with my own stupidity. I contemplated asking neighbours I’d never met before or plain old giving up. Eventually I called Kate (yes, the birthday girl) and explained. How ridiculous! Can I bake your birthday cake in your oven!?
I jumped into a taxi, Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl filled with batter and drove 15 minutes to her place. The chubby cabby asked 100 questions and made me feel even more like the Dumb Baker I was.
In the end, the cake came out wonderfully. Kate’s house smelt like freshly bakes cakes and I returned home to finish it all off and everyone loved it! I had visions of the batter collapsing or curdling but it held up wonderfully. I will definitely be making this cake again. Now, I ask you, was all that daring enough for you!?
Here’s what I did:
For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour (I used plain flour and removed 1 tbs of flour from each cup)
1 tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
113 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp lemon extract
For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
340 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling
2/3 cup raspberry jam stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
Preheat the oven 175C and butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans, lining the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered baking paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the sugar and lemon zest in a 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 lemon 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 centre’s 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.
Now for 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, cut the cakes horizontally in half, using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the jam. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with jam 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 it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the fridge. 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.
If you would like to see what my fellow Daring Bakers did with this challenge please check out our Daring Baker’s Blogroll.