Monday, April 7, 2008

Perfect Party Cake... 'Class Finale' Style.

So I'm not a member of Daring Bakers, but I love reading about their monthly exploits.

This month's undertaking was of particular interest to me because of my cake decorating class. For our final we have to bake, split, fill and frost a cake on our own, then bring it into the class all ready to have items piped onto it.

Well the final class day is tomorrow evening. Which meant I made my cake tonite. It had to be 3 layers and could be of any combination we wanted.

Now, the gal who is teaching this class has been doing this for 20+ years and she knows what she likes, doesn't like, recommends, doesn't recommend etc. She also sells cake mixes, fillings, frosting, etc. She feels like her stuff is the best, of course, she's been doing it for 20 years right!! But I am a home baker so I want to do my own thing rather than rely on someone else's mix and frosting and all that. Even if 'my own thing' results in rather strangely misshapen baked items sometimes, that's part of the fun right??

But for this final I wanted my cake to be perfect. So what better cake to attempt than the Dorie's Perfect Party Cake from the March Daring Baker Challenge??

I researched all week long, checking out many DB pages and seeing what each person did for their variation and how it came out, what their notes and adaptations were. Fascinating.

One that particularly spoke to me in the way of loud tummy grumbles was A Whisk and a Spoon's lemon blueberry variation. That cut-open inside piece made my mouth water. I love lemon blueberry ANYTHING so this was obviously the cake I had to attempt.

And attempt it I did, this evening. It worked out quite well. I carefully measured each ingredient (one thing I am a bit sloppy on sometimes when cupcaking...I get so excited I just want to see the finished product immediately, who needs to really measure baking powder? HA!)...sifted everything, took no shortcuts. Well I did shake the salt in rather than measure. Old habits die hard.

The batter was really light and fluffy, almost like a thick whipped cream.

The scent of lemon was strong...I had picked up amazingly beautiful Meyer Lemons earlier at Whole Foods and they were at their best in this beautiful recipe.

Loved the idea of rubbing the lemon zest and sugar together til fragrant. I could almost eat the lemon sugar alone.

The cakes didn't rise that much, which after reading most of the DB pages, seems typical. I also read that Dorie mentioned that people must be using self-rising cake flour to NOT have them rise enough but I checked and I don't think mine is self-rising and I still didn't get that much lift out of them.

I was a little worried as my cake teacher wanted a 3 layer cake, and my layers were not all that flufftastic, could I get 2 layers out of one of these?? Yep!! Slowly, carefully and gently with a serrated bread knife, I cut the larger of the two. Perfect! Well kinda close.

I tried my hand again at the Swiss Merengue Buttercream from How to Eat a Cupcake's fab blog...with wonderful results! YAY. More on that to come.
But for's the building of my finale layer cake. I put in Wild Blueberry Preserves and a border of buttercream to hold it in. Did this a few times.

Then I slopped the rest of the frosting on the top (it looked like a ton!) and frosted the cake. Amazingly enough the huge mound of buttercream on the top barely frosted the cake. I had a tiny bit of leftover scraped off but not much. I guess I put a lot in the layers, perfect!!

Not quite super smooth but hey, that's what the decorating part is for right? I'd like to point out that while I cupcake quite often, this is my absolute FIRST CAKE EVER that did not come from a box with a Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines stamped on the front. So I am really proud.
(more on the buttercream creation, decorating, and EATING of the cake in the next post because seriously this one is getting WAY too long!!!)


Janna said...

Ooooh! I can't wait to see it finished! I too thought A Whisk and Spoon's cake was gorgeous! Tartelette's was so pretty too.

Gigi said...

Good luck with your cake and I can't wait to see the finished cake!