My Baby Girl turns Three in a few days and this year, like last year, I combined her birthday party and Halloween. This year, being seven months pregnant, I couldn't exactly DIY everything. I had some friends and family pitch in with the party food.
There was one thing I was determined to make this year... and that was her birthday cake. Last year all over "blog world" were photos of a super epic rainbow cake, courtesy of Whisk Kid. I had a few months before the big day to dwell on the recipe that I was going to use. I decided not to use the recipe Whisk Kid used.
For me, it was a toss up between Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake and Melissa Murphy's white cake, which was a component in her Fluffy Coconut Cake, that we made a few weeks ago. So after making Melissa's white cake, I did a test run and made half a recipe of the Perfect Party Cake. I went with Dorie's cake. To me, it was lighter and fluffier.
For my monstrosity birthday cake, I needed 6-layers at 9" each. What did that mean for me using Dorie's recipe??? Three times the recipe!
I alternated the flavors. For two of the layers, I went with the lemon flavor; another two I went with vanilla; the final two I went with almond. For the food coloring, I went with Wilton Gel -- this set has all the colors you will need (plus brown & pink, which I'm sure I'll do something with in the future). For the ending, I omitted the raspberry and coconut and just used straight vanilla buttercream.
Here are the layers waiting to be frosted:
Here is the cake frosted and decorated:
For the decorations, I used edible sugar sheets.
The Birthday Girl (and everyone else) waiting for the big reveal!
Perfect Party Cake From Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”
Makes 12 to 14 servings
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 vanilla cake, omit the lemon zest and sub in vanilla extract; for almond, use almond extract)
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
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (My layers were rather thin. I didn't want the cakes to burn so I baked at 325 degrees). 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.
2. For the Cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
4. 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.
5. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
(* This is where you would color the layers).
8. 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.)
9. For the Buttercream: 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.
10. 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.
11. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 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. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
12. 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 the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). 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.
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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