Not so perfect

To keep the birthday theme going for yet another post, this month Daring Baker challenge chosen by Morven was Dorie Greenspan´s Perfect Party Cake, which made the perfect choice for one of my birthday cakes.

with caramel sauce

Yet even though it turned out delicious, it was one of those near disaster stories. As wise people know, it´s not… well, wise, to bake when you are tired, in a hurry, and have a massive headache from the previous night´s festivities.

But the clock was ticking and it was my one opportunity to make the challenge, so I forged ahead. And I had a few problems: first of all, the cakes were quite flat (it might be the lack of cake flour in Argentina, so I had to use all purpose minus 2 tablespoons per cup), which had me rushing to make a third cake to create more height, but said cake broke into pieces when trying to unmold it, so I had to make do with a 2 layer cake instead of a 4 layer cake because I didn´t dare splitting my thin cakes into 2.

my cousin Martin

I had earlier on decided to skip the buttercream and use flavored whipped cream instead because I´m not a big fan of buttercream and I think I mentioned I was a BIT stressed out, so the simpler, the better. So my flavor combo was coconut whipped cream + dulce de leche, just because dulce de leche and coconut are those flavor combos destined to live happily ever after.


Another problem I had was not having two cake pans of the exact same size and not having enough time to make two batches, hence the irregular shape of my so-not-perfect cake.

Once assembled, the cake looked a bit blah, so I drizzled some of the leftover caramel sauce I had from this other cake, and it improved quite a bit.

all-white version

And, stress and all, everyone raved about the flavor of the cake. The lemon zest in the cake (I didn´t use the lemon extract because I´m not too fond of extracts) was the perfect complement to the sweetness of the dulce de leche and the coconut. And the texture of the cake was delightfully spongy even though it hadn´t risen much. So this one might call for a repeat performance.

If you want to see much more polished versions of this cake, check out the creations of the rest of the Daring Bakers. And if you don´t have time to see them all, at least check out Helene´s version, it´s so chic it hurts.

Dorie Greenspan´s Perfect Party Cake (original version)

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.


Filed under Daring bakers, food, sweet

20 responses to “Not so perfect

  1. The cake looks lovely! I didn’t even notice the two different sizes!

  2. Marce,
    I love the flavour combination so yummy!
    Your cake looks delicious and I didn’t even notice two different sizes on the pans.
    Perfect job!

  3. Love the DDL idea with this. I am sure it tasted fabulous. Coconut and DDL are delicious together!

  4. Now Marce… that cake looks perfectly wonderful with all the coconut, nuts and caramel DDL. I think you and Helen should do a cake out next month, that is what I think.


  5. I’ve never tried coconut and dulce de leche together – it sounds fantastic, though! Your cake looks like it was delish!

  6. oh please! I think yours looks great. The dulce de leche idea is spectacular!

  7. OMG it looks so good!

  8. Oh I love the dulce de leche drizzled over that. I would be so sick to my stomach tearing that apart. It looks so good.

  9. I see caramel sauce, I see dulce, I see no problem!
    Lovely cake! (I had a 2-layer as well..guess why…)

  10. Anne

    The cake looks so yummy with the drizzle of dulce de leche 🙂

  11. I love love love dulce de leche. What a great combination!

  12. There are few things in life that couldn’t be improved with a bit of caramel sauce.

  13. ajjaja, que bueno la gallinita con la torta…

  14. Your cake is fabulous! I love all the almonds and caramel.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  15. Despite the unusual shape of your cake, it looks really tasty. I’d love to know how to make the dulce de leche because it really looks yummy.

  16. I am so behind on making the rounds…Why? Because we are tidying up some house work in expectation of your arrival…22 days baby!!! The coconut whipped cream must have been outstanding! Who is the cutie pie in the picture?
    I love your cake…the flavors sound wonderful!!

  17. Molly W: I really don´t make the dulce de leche because we have easily 10 different brands in every supermarket here, so it doesn´t make sense. But I hear many people are happy with the condensed milk version, David Lebovitz has a recipe to make it in the oven, or you can just google it and get tons of hits. I´m sorry I can´t be of more help though.

  18. You followed my rule of when all else fails throw caramel(or in this case DDL) on top of something and it makes everything alright. 🙂
    I still think it turned out great.

  19. travelingwilbury

    Hi Molly
    I recently published the recipe for dulce de leche in my blog because although I am from Argentina I am currently living in London and quite fancied making my own… Making your own makes sense if you don’t live in Argentina, plus the quality is much, much higher. Try it and let me know how it turned out!

  20. I think it looks lovely!

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