Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Perfect Party Cake

Please excuse the paper plate.Between a birthday, Back to School Night, the First day of School and 2 house showings today, fancy dishes were just not on the agenda.

I can't believe my cute little baby just turned four today. I know it sounds so cliche but it really does seem like just yesterday that we were bringing her home from the hospital. Plus, today was the first day of school and here I was sending another little one off to Kindergarten. Where does time go?

Of course I had to make a cake to celebrate. I am usually such a fan of chocolate but when it comes to birthday cakes and kids let's face it---vanilla is much easier to clean up and I really like the flavor of vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting. This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. Scanning the ingredients I noticed buttermilk and lemon zest and that was all it took to convince me this was going to be a great cake. I opted to make the cake simple and skip the coconut and jam (at the request of the birthday girl.) I'm not a fan of meringue type frosting so I used my own but have included the original recipe in case you'd like to try it. (I think the coconut and strawberry jam would taste heavenly!)The cake turned out moist and flavorful and the hint of lemon was delicious. The birthday girl was happy and so was everyone else. Make sure and add this  TO DIE FOR frosting (you'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the recipe) and you'll have a one happy birthday boy or girl! (We love it after the cake has been refrigerated for a couple of hours. )
Perfect Party Cake
Baking from My Home to Yours
*Makes 12 to 14 servings*

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
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Butter cream:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
This is what I used.
For Finishing:
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
Getting Ready:
Center a rack in 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 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – 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, unmold 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 2 months.)
To Make the Butter cream:
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan 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 the butter cream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the butter cream 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 butter cream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the butter cream 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 butter cream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and butter cream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have butter cream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining butter cream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
Serving: The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but it’s best to let it set for a couple of hours in a cool room.
Storing: The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to 2 days.
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Frieda said...

Pretty cake! I like butter cream and sans jam, but I have failed in the cake department...probably because I have been using cake flour. Gotta get some and try this cake. Thanks for the recipe!

Melody said...

That does look like a perfect party cake! I'm sure the coconut and jam would have taken it over the top, but birthday girl wishes..... She is a cutie by the way.

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