Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Perfect Cake...March Challenge!

YAY!!! First how excited was I to get to make a cake?? I love to make cakes, and decorate them. True, Decembers challenge was a cake, but it was the holidays, and just impossible to tackle. This one I was most excited, and we had so much we could do with it. Morven chose this fantastic recipe for us, Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours. Seeing some other items in a popular event Tuesday's with Dorie, I may have to go find this book! I will say the only link that I really have for it comes from Quirky Cupcake. If she is not the actual even holder do let me know cause I am unsure where to go to get much info on it, I just go there often as I am addicted to Cupcake Hero! ha-ha. OK, sorry for that little off track switch up back to CAKE!!! I being not a raspberry fan, set out to find a filling I wanted to try. And since I really wanted to make it good, I wanted something different and homemade.
I took a few days, and then I came across a recipe for Gingered Lime Curd. OMG!! how pretty would that be? Bright White cake with a contrast of Bright Green curd. and mm soo tasty to boot. So that is what I am gonna make, and did. And what else?? ohh I can just make it as my St. Patrick's Day treat and use my 4 leaf clover cookie cutter and the fantastic green glitter sent to me in my BBM from Angel's Bento Blog. (ok so apparently I had the urge to link as many people as possible in the challenge blog this month, go see em all, they kick ass lol). The down fall is that I couldn't actually make it until Easter...since it was my only day off to do it. But it was all in the heart of St. Patty's day!! The curd I made the day before, and have posted below for another event, Tasty tools. How perfect was that?? It is super good, tangy and a bit sweet and just yummy. I couldn't wait to taste it in the cake!!
So I started my day making the cake, true, I slept in, first day off in so long, I did sleep until about 11am. So after IM's with a great friend and emails, I got my tush into the kitchen. Prepped the pans and ingredients and had at it. It really was a fairly simple recipe. Nothing too time consuming, and easy to read and follow, the process over all made me quite happy. And the batter hehe....its one tasty batter. Oh come on you all can't tell me you didn't at least lick the spoon. I for one couldn't resist, knowing the lemon was in there I had to have a little taste!!
The cake's baked up nicely and quickly. And while the cooled, I set out to make the Icing. Now, the cake was good, pretty white, fluffy. But the Icing, now I know I made it in school..but I do not remember it being so amazingly fluffy and tasty? It's so not that have buttercreme one is used to. It is fantastic. I love it! Took a little time, with the beating until cool, but let me tell you, it was so worth it, I will most likely use this as my basic Buttercreme recipe from now on, it was just that great. Not too sweet, not heavy ..just wonderful!! The Whiteness was amazing as well, all that butter, and vanilla and lemon, and its white!! Fantastic I tell you.
So with out further Ado...I give you:
The Perfect Cake:
Words from Dorie
Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.

For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
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.
It is definitely a versatile cake. You can do just about anything with it. The lemon in it is light enough that all it does is enhance anything else added to it. I will make sure to add this to my make again and test other flavors out, how could I not?? After the tasting at work, I definitely going to try to make this with a Tequila syrup for the cakes..and one co-worker said " Man I know the idea of Beer and cake is just wrong, but a Corona would go perfectly with this cake, the lime, cake and a Corona Perfect!! " lol Thanks Morven for a great challenge!!


Ann said...

Great-looking cake!
Ann at Redacted Recipes

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely cake! I am sure the lime curd was just delicious and perfect for St. Patricks Day!

CB said...

Those shamrock sprinkles are SO adorable! Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

slush said...

Beautiful! Love the clovers on top!

Kate said...

So cute! The clovers are adorable, what a great decorating idea!

Lunch Buckets said...

Beer and cake? Why not??? It looks just adorable, great job ;)

kimberleyblue said...

Lime curd sounds fantastic in there - and I love the decorating you did!

Jenny said...

Gingered lime curd sounds incredible, although I think I would want the cake to be more intense in flavor too.

Megan said...

Very pretty cake! I bet the lime curd was amazing. I loved the frosting too.

Mother Bliss said...

What a fun cake. Maybe next add some green food coloring and make the cake green! Great job!

Randi said...

i love the clovers! mmmginger. i've been kicking myself for not using a ginger flavoring for this cake. looks beautiful :)

JMom said...

I agree, this buttercream frosting was one of the best I've tasted or made. Your decorating is awesome :)

Erika said...

Great cake, and in my opinion, Corona goes great with most anything!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Perfectly festive! Great job!

Aoife said...

Lime and lemon, what a neat idea. Your cake looks great!

Sheltie Girl said...

Your cake is so cute! Great job on the decorating.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Antonio Tahhan said...

that's definitely a sweet design!! I love the St. Patty's Day theme; beautiful cake!

Snug said...

Mmmmm lime curd!!!! Yumminess!! Lol, i cant believe you're a WoW fanatic too...well, i used to be for the longest time, but i've quit the addiction and have been clean now for about over 2 years ;),

Aamena said...

lovely four four leaf clovers! and i agree, even am looking fwd to tring it out with different flavours.

creampuff said...

Go Irish! Love the way you decorated that cake!

Tracy said...

Looks beautiful!!

Jaime said...

your st patrick's cake looks great!

TWD has it's own website now -

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