Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Daring Bakers Challenge ...and what my BAD dog did!

Dorie's Perfect Party Cake!

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Morven. The recipe she choose was PERFECT PARTY CAKE
Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250).

I loved this challenge. For me I generally don't need an excuse to bake a cake but I have been a little busy the last couple of months and haven't baked nearly as much as I would like to. This gave me the perfect reason to make the time.

The cake turned out delicious and I was really surprised. It felt heavy when I was working with it but the tast of was so light and airy. T. compared it to a slightly more dense Angel Food Cake!

Freshly cut strawberries ready for layering

I opted to fill my layers with fresh strawberries. We are getting great strawberries right now from our local U-Pick so it was really a no-brainer for me. I didn't use any preserves and just layered the icing with the strawberries. Next time I make this though I think I would add some sugar to the strawberries just to give it a bit more sweet.

First layer done

I stuck with the original Buttercream recipe and am so glad I did! This was delicious. Not nearly as sweet as I had thought it would be just the perfect compliment to the cake!

Now here is where it gets really ugly. My oldest daughter has been home with me for the week and was getting a little antsy towards the end of the week so I had told her that when I was finished with the cake I would take her for a short bike ride around the neighborhood. I finished the cake and boy was I proud of it. It looked really good! So I ran it outside and took a bunch of pictures and off we went for out bike ride. It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed the time together.

We parked our bikes and got back inside and I was folding some laundry when my oldest daughter discovered this....

My freaking dog had gotten into my cake. Did I cry...No. Did I kill my dog...No. Did I give my dog away...Not yet! Anyone want him?

I actually laughed. It was just so devastating at this point that there was really nothing else else you could do.We were still able to eat a small portion of the back that he couldn't get to and this was the best slice that we could get out of it.

Would I make this again: Oh yes and I can't wait to! The only thing that I would do differentlyis to make the strawberries a bit sweeter. This could so easily be done with any type of fruit and I can't wait to try the different variations. I will also not allow the dog to get anywhere near it next time!

The recipe follows:

For the Cake

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)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

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.
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.
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.


Anonymous said...

Bad doggy! :-)

The cake is lovely... just too bad you didn't get to eat more of it!

Deeba PAB said...

Hey Judy...had to get here soon. Saw your post on DB & almost wept copius tears on your behalf! Am glad you managed a couple of snaps before going out...& bonanza, salvaged a slice too. Strawberries sound ever so GREAT! It's beautiful!!

L Vanel said...

I can only imagine how your dog must have gotten the idea to attack this cake. You must have given it lots of attention! In any case at least you got a pic of it before the total devastation. Sorry it happened but thanks for giving me the vicarious thrill of being at the scene of the crime!

glamah16 said...

I dont know what to say abut the dog.Just consider it it his odd destructive compliment to you , the chef! He just wanted those lucious strawberries and smelled those buttery sweet scents. Glad you managed to save a good slice and phototgraph. I like your combos!

Rosie said...

Oh naughty dog but he knew a good thing when he sniffed and took bites out of it! I am pleased you managed to take a few pics and your cake does look wonderful with strawberries & cream :)

kellypea said...

Outside of the dog getting into your cake (um, how high can it jump?) so much of what you said ran through my mind, too. Not too sweet (YUM) and similar to angelfood without that whole bouncy thing that I don't love. And the frosting...oh, certainly to die for. Yah, this gets an "I'll make it again fo sho" from me which never happens.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Thanks for all the comments. The dog is a golden retriever who is about 15 months old. That is the only reason that he is still with us!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

See even the dog loved your cake Judy:D The addition of the strawberries is just perfect:D

Ms. Munchie said...

Bummer. Do make it again because it is too good not to enjoy the whole thing!

Annemarie said...

Oh no. Oh no he didn't. I would have been in hysterical (crying) laughter, I think. The cake *did* look great, though, so could you blame your poor pooch (really - when was the last time you offered him a slice of your cake)?

Jerry said...

Too bad the dog got to it! It was a lovely cake!

Anonymous said...

Oh nooooo!
And it was a beautiful cake!
Glad you were able to salvage at least a little bit of it!

Heather said...

That is one long recipe! Maybe that's why baking frightens me.

Stupid dog!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely cake. Too funny about the dog. Hope you enjoy making it again soon!

Anonymous said...

Bad Doggie!! However, my dog Champ is now telling me that your dog is his hero! ;)

Your cake (or what's left of it) looks great!

Unknown said...

My dog has a thing for strawberries, and I can imagine him doing whatever he needed to get to them - he's a bit of a Houdini!

Love this cake idea - perfect for this time of year, nice job.

Sarah said...

Your cake looks beautiful, and I love the fresh berries! We are just now starting to get really good strawberries around here and I may have to remake the cake again just to do so!



Dharm said...

Oh Bad, Bad Dog!! I'm sure he enjoyed it though!! The cake looks just great Judy! Great Job.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your cake looked beautiful before your bad dog gobbled half of it ;-P! That's not funny... Anyway, you've done a great job here!



Lunch Buckets said...

Dog - 1
Judy - 0

Too funny! Think of all the calories you saved :)

Proud Italian Cook said...

I would have been laughing and crying at the same time! I love that you took a picture of it eaten by your dog, hay, that's life! things happen!! I'm glad you got your photo's and it looks delicious in spite of your pup.

Susan @ SGCC said...

Oh nooooo!!! And it was such a pretty cake! All I can say is, your dog has excellent taste, hehehe!

Shannon said...

You cake looks so tall and beautiful. That's so sad your dog ate most of it but I'm sure the piece you did get was absolutely delicious.

Jennifer said...

AWWW!!! Your salvaged piece looks super splendid though!!!! I used fresh strawberries too!

Deborah said...

I'm laughing - my dog would have loved to get a big piece of this!! It looks gorgeous, though, and at least you were able to salvage some of it!

Thistlemoon said...

I am so sorry I missed this challenge! All of these cakes look amazing! I am going to make it next time a cake is needed for something.

Your dog has great taste! :)

creampuff said...

That's one smart doggy! Cute post ...

Sheltie Girl said...

Your cake just looked and smelled too good to leave alone. It looks scrumptious.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Angel said...

Your cake looked amazing dog or no dog. Personally I think the dog had good taste, it would take a lot of will power for me not to dive into that tasty creation. Magnificent!!!

Michele said...

I can only imagine the tummy ache that your dog is going to have in the morning...not to mention the sugar crash. The piece that you saved is beautiful. I can't blame him for trying to eat the whole thing. :)

Geri aka Cooking with the Schnarrs said...

Hi Judy! This is a fantastic page! I love to entertain and am always looking for new recipes...I can already tell I'll be trying a lot of yours!

Check me out at
If you'd like :) I'm going to school for a degree in culinary arts but am obsessed with pastries. I'm just getting started on the blog so I've only got a few recipes so far. Can't wait to see what recipes you post next!