Everyday Cooking

Sunday, March 30, 2008

DB March Challenge- Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

It's that time of the month again when the Daring Bakers unleash their creative audacity to interpret a single recipe in a thousand and one ways. Our March host is Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts, who has chosen Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake recipe. Dorie Greenspan is supposed to be somewhat of a baking legend in the US and the fact that we were challenged with one of her well-known recipes excited my fellow Daring Bakers who were already familiar with her books (I'm not one of them). The recipe for this challenge comes from this book.
The recipe was straighforward enough- the batter calling for cake flour,butter, buttermilk/milk, egg whites and sugar. The original version had the sponge and Swiss meringue butter cream icing flavoured with lemon. The cake was to be assembled in four layers with raspberry jam and buttercream sandwiched in between and then finished off with a coating of sweet dessicated coconut. Morven gave us a lot of leeway for presenting our own version, with the only proviso that it remains a layer cake.
When I first saw the recipe, I got quite excited as I imagined ending up with a giant white lamington (me heart lamingtons) . Now THAT would be a party cake. Unfortunately, my version turned out to be a deflated kill-joy, definitely in no mood to party :-(

Because of the coconut, I decided to go with an all-tropical flavour. I substitued lime for lemon and I used the last of the mango and lime jam I made around Christmas time.

Apart from going with the different flavours, I followed the recipe to a T and kept in mind all the other DB'er tips, using low-protein flour (for biscuits and cakes), whipped the egg whites prior to mixing with the buttermilk, etc. As soon as the batter was ready, I already had my doubts. There was just not going to be enough to fill two 9-inch pans. I plowed along nevertheless, pouring the batter into one pan and hoping that it would rise enough for me to get two layers out of one cake.

Alas, 35 minutes into the cooking time and it was still looking stodgy. I gave it another 10 minutes and a knife came out clean when I insterted in the middle of the cake so I took the cake out. The cake just fealt heavy and dense when I turned it out onto a rack to cool. Oh dear.

I tried to not think about the cake and got on with making the buttercream. Ahhh, that's more like it. Just as the recipe promised- fluffy, smooth and shiny. It was delicious with lime juice swirled through it. Woohoo!

When it came time to assemble the cake, it became more apparent that this was a disaster. Slicing thru the cake to get two layers, I realised that it was undercooked, it had the texture of fudge in the middle. I knew that the crumb was supposed to be tight but not like this. This was on the eve of Easter and I had a million other things to make for my son's Christening the following day and there really was no time to sulk . So, I dress the little party cake up by filling up the two slices with jam and buttercream (again, yum!) , slathering on some more buttercream on the outside and lightly showering the cake with dessicated coconut. I topped it with a chick and a couple of Easter eggs, put it in the fridge and out of my mind.

The following day, I let the cake sit out at room temperature for a couple of hours before cutting into it. Despite that, it still felt heavy as I cut thru it. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't even taste it. The texture was so unappealing to me that I wanted to bin it straight away. A couple of aunts ate a few bites and said that it was 'ok, the subtle lime flavour was nice'. I wasn't convinced. No photos of the slices either. I am not sure where it all went wrong but I will attempt this again when I have a bit more time. I am determined to bake my party cake and eat it, too.

Despite my failure in this challenge, I am happy to say that most of my fellow Daring Bakers had much fun and success in making their party cakes. You will be drooling over some of the combinations-I promise! So go out there and ogle out everyone's party cake. ' Til next month!


Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Aww thats a bummer. I have cake issues also.

Deborah said...

I'm sorry you had so many problems! It looks good, though, and at least you tried!

Manggy said...

Aww, shucks. Sorry about that Desie. Although a giant Lamington is nothing to scoff at, isn't it? :) I wish you could've tasted it-- it might have turned your opinion around :)

ChichaJo said...

I feel for you girl! Mine were really flat...I couldn't even split them! Ack. But like you, I am determined to try again :)

glamah16 said...

Sorry it didnt work out.I think it was the flour type and the availabilty of that brand.Next time!

mimi said...

sorry it didn't come out as well as you would've liked, but it still looks so cute with the chick on top!

Julius said...

Thanks for the message you left on my blog. :)

Let me help troubleshoot:

- use bleached flour; the recipe will not work with unbleached flour.
- bleached flour is hard to find outside North America, but you can make unbleached flour act like bleached. See Kate's posts.
- the most important: do not pre-whip the whites. This method is wrong for this recipe. Just lightly whisk it with the milk as the directions stated.
- if you pre-whip the whites, it will deflate when added to the batter and no amount of beating will bring it back. Pre-whipping is only appropriate if the last step in the recipe is the folding of whites into a batter.

Hope these help.

Happy Christening :)

Julius from Occasional Baker

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great job here! You cake looks very pretty!



Dhanggit said...

oh sorry to hear about that dessie, but nonetheless this cake look sooo cute to me!! :-) i bet this is delicious too

Bellini Valli said...

I'm sorry that your cake didn't meet your expectations. I had icing issues myself, but coconut can hide a lot of sins:D

Kevin said...

I had problems with the cake not rising as well. The butter cream was really good though.

Anne said...

sorry you didn't like it...but at least you tried and I salute you for that :)

Lesley said...

Well, it LOOKS adorable! Good try, try it again sometime!

Miss Ifi said...

Awww it's sad that you had lots of problems.. still I think it looks cute with the eggs and the chick on top.
You tried and that is a very important part of being a daring baker.. so CONGRATULATIONS!!

Kate / Kajal said...

aiya ... :( these things happen all the time. i sell cakes and still i manage to fuck up tried and tested recipes. u wont beleive me i did it just today ... had to re do the whole thing as it was an order. Made no money on it , and wasted the whole day !! so dont let it bother u ... just go for it again :)
It looks nice though , if u hadn't mentioned i would've never known.gr8 job covering up :)

Lunch Buckets said...

That's too bad! If you didn't tell we'd never have known :) Mango-lime jam sounds fabulous by the way.

Jennifer said...

Aw! That stinks! Hopefully next time the cake will taste better! It IS yummy! :)

Laurie Constantino said...

That is a very very sad story.

JMom said...

Oh wow I love the idea of the mango and lime jam filling. It's just too bad that the cakes didn't turn out well for you. Well, you know what they say, try try again :)

I sure am going to keep tweaking this cake. I think it's going to be a keeper once you get it just the way you want it.

Sheltie Girl said...

I'm sorry you weren't so thrilled with the way your cake turned out. I look forward to seeing your version of the April challenge.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

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