March 26, 2008

Special Occasion Cake

This month's challenge, hosted by the talented Morven, was a great cake from Dorie Greenspan. It was a special occasion because my niece was visiting and we were able to spend loads of time together including Easter dinner. Since she is on the Eve of beginning a patisserie program, she was my guest baker for the month. She did a wonderful job on the cake!!! It was delicious on Easter and for the few days after. She chose to make a lemon curd filling from the lemons on my tree. Here is her review of making the cake:

Having read so many posts and heard so much about The Daring Bakers I'm excited to be "guest baker" for March! This months cake actually worked out quite nicely for me because I have been craving in the most intense way a vanilla and lemon (with fresh from the tree lemons, of course) cake for months now!

I made the actual cake the night before and made and assembled the rest of it the next day. I thought the cake was pretty straight forward to make and a recipe for cake that will definitely be my "go-to" cake in the future. It had a great texture, taste, and consistency. While it was denser then a chiffon cake, it was not as heavy as a pound cake. I used the same recipe for the lemon curd that everybody in The Daring Bakers used in the lemon meringue tarts. I loved everything about the curd; I felt like I could have eaten a bowl of it! When I was making the curd though, it being my first time, I found it a bit of challenge. I mostly was concerned about the consistency when I was making the cornstarch mixture (how thick should this be?) and also scrambling the egg yolks (when I tempered the yolks) because the cornstarch mixture was so hot. I was not too familiar with details of how to make a curd - the only thing I was sure of was how much I love the taste! It came out great - thick and full of fresh lemon flavor.

To be honest, I was not very excited about making a buttercream for this cake; I had visions of a lightly lemon flavored whip cream, but was I oh so pleasantly surprised! This buttercream is has given me a whole new perspective! Although I ended up having to make 3 batches (2 full and one half) it was well worth it. Its smooth, soft, light, and supreme flavor is everything I could ask for in a cake frosting. It also made decorating the cake a breeze.

Before I assembled the whole cake I froze the two individual cakes for a little while to make cutting them in half easier. One of the cakes broke so I used it in the middle of the cake when I assembled it. The broken layer had a tendency to want to push out while I was frosting, so I had to keep my hand on it to keep it in place. Of course, it was not even noticeable once the cake was frosted and we dug into it. The most troublesome aspect of this cake is not eating a slice with each meal! I plan on making this exact cake for Mother's Day and I can't wait to try it again.

This was a great cake! It only got better with age. It was such a joy to bake with my niece!!! I wish her all the best in patisserie school.

Excellent recipe, Morven!!!

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 Swiss 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 cleanTransfer 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 CakeUsing 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.StoringThe 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 AroundSince 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.


Courtney said...

wow i love how your cake turned out it is beautiful

Anonymous said...

Your cake is beautiful! Wonderful job!

Deborah said...


Gabi said...

Gorgeous- Bee-utiful!Perfect!

SweetDesigns said...

Gorgeous cake!! and woohoo to your helper!!

Sheltie Girl said...

Simply Beautiful! Great job on the cake.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Miss Ifi said...

Your cake looks soo pretty!!! Congratulations on your challenge!

Andrea said...

Your cake looks so pretty for an Easter dinner! I love the lemon curd and wish I had tried that.