This months Daring Bakers challenge was Dorie's perfect party cake. I had mixed feelings about this challenge. On the one hand, I had never baked a cake before and I was really looking forward to trying. On the other hand, the last time that I tried making a butter cream it did not work out...
The cake recipe seemed pretty straight forward and easy but for some reason the cake did not rise at all. Luckily I had enough ingredients to try making the cake again. I figured that I would either be able to use the second cake if it came out right or in the worst case I would be able to use both the first cake and the second cake to get the required 4 layers if it did not rise. The second time I paid even closer attention to the directions, but it did not rise either... I am not sure what went wrong but in the end I had enough cake to continue.
2 1/2 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
1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
2. Mix the milk and eggs in a large bowl.
3. Mix the lemon zest and sugar together in a large bowl. Rub them together with your fingers.
4. Beat the butter into the sugar until they are light.
5. Beat in the vanilla extract.
6. Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until incorporated.
7. Beat in 1/2 of the milk mixture until incorporated.
8. Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until incorporated.
9. Beat in the the remaining milk mixture until incorporated.
10. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until incorporated.
11. Pour the batter into 2 greased and lined 9x2 inch round baking pans.
12. Bake in the middle of a preheated 350F oven until a tooth pick comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes.
13. Let the cakes cool.
14. Cut the cakes in half.
I was not looking forward to making the butter cream as I had not been able to get it right the last time. Before starting I made sure that everything was ready and at hand and fully at room temperature. I pulled out my bowl and trusty pair of forks and got to beating. For the final step of beating the eggs and butter the recipe called for 6-10 minutes of beating time using a machine. I figured that doing it by hand would take longer but at the 10 minute mark the eggs and butter were still liquid and did not seem to be getting any thicker. I decided that if by 20 minutes of beating nothing had changed I would throw in the towel. Then at the 15 minute mark all of a sudden the eggs and butter went from a liquid to perfectly thick and smooth cream. The butter cream was really amazing! It tasted great and it had a really nice texture. I had a hard time keeping my finger out of the bowl while I assembled the cake.
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/4 cup lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Whisk the sugar into the egg whites in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until the mixture is hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. (The sugar should be dissolved and the mixture should look like shiny marshmallow cream.)
2. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat until the cream is cool, about 5 minutes.
3. Beat in the butter one stick at a time.
4. Beat the mixture until it thickens and becomes smooth, about 10-20 minutes.
5. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla extract a bit at a time until they are incorporated.
I decided to decorate my cake with fresh strawberries as there were some really nice looking ones at the store. By going with a strawberry theme I also got the chance to use some of the strawberry jam that I made last year. Assembling and frosting the cake was pretty easy and kind of fun.
1 jar strawberry jam
* fresh strawberries
1. Spread a layer of jam onto the top of one slice of cake.
2. Spread a layer of the butter cream onto the bottom of another layer of cake and place it on top the the first layer.
3. Continue in this fashion until all layers of cake have a layer of jam and butter cream between them but do not place jam on the top layer.
4. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream and decorate with strawberries.
In the end the cake turned out pretty good! It looked nice and tasted great. The cake park of the cake was a little denser than I would have liked but it tasted good and that is what matters most. I am still not sure why the cake did not rise properly but things worked out so it was not a big problem. I was really pleased with the buttercream. I came into this recipe not really even liking the concept of a buttercream and I came out really enjoying it. I look forward to using buttercream again in the future.
Chocolate Stout Cake with Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting
Use the leftover egg yolks in:
Guinness Chocolate Pudding
Azuki (Red Bean) Ice Cream
Black Sesame Ice Cream
Take a look at the other Daring Bakers creations.