Dorie's Perfect Party cake- Lemonized for a bright sunny Thank you!
The trees in my grandmother's little village in Kerala must be bursting with golden mangoes and purple mangosteen, with me too far away to gorge myself sick on them :( Here in California though, I see sunny lemons and oranges everywhere, and its almost like everyone has a lemon or orange tree in their back yard, except me. So of course I am compensating by buying loads of themevery time I go grocery shopping leading me to squeeze lemons over super easy baked chicken and potatoes, lentils, or bake with them. I'm hoping all these citrusy desserts I've been having is boosting my stock of Vitamin C and not just going straight to my hips.
A few days ago I had posted some creamy, mouth puckeringly tangy lemon curd. Some of it went into this lemony cake which then went into my tummy, but it was meant for all the wonderful Kerala Kitchen members who contributed 54 brilliant entries to our roundup for last month! I wish I could send you all a slice, but hope you'll get to enjoy it atleast virtually for now :)
The cake is an extra lemonized version of Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party cake which I have been longing to make ever since I saw it on the Daring Baker's challenge archives. The original cake is filled with raspberry preserve and has a buttercream frosting and is covered in a cloud of sweetened shredded coconut, but I decided to instead use lemon curd as a filling, as well as to flavour the easy-peasy lemon squeeze-y whipped cream frosting. The cake can be made ahead and frozen for upto 2 months. Infact if you are cutting it into layers it is easier to do so once the cake is frozen. Lemon curd can also be frozen for upto 2 months, and then thawed overnight in the fridge before using it the next day. So why not make one well in advance and freeze it, so you are ready for a party anytime!
Dorie herself describes the cake as "..a just-right cake for any celebration.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"
Perfect for any party, you can make the frosting and filling of your choice or even have it plain as a wonderful light tea cake. What better cake to celebrate 54 delicious entries to our Kerala Kitchen last month!
This goes to: Ria of Ria's collection my partner in crime and host of this month's Kerala Kitchen, as well as the wonderful members who took part this month:
Recipe Source: For the cake from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my home to yours from the Daring Baker's archives here as well as here
If you are making layer cakes for the first time, these tips from Deb of Smitten Kitchen are quite useful For the filling and frosting: Inspired by Deeba of passionate about baking from here
2 1/4 cups cake flour
( or substitute as follows: 2 1/4 cup all purpose bleached flour minus 4 tbsp + 4 tbsp cornstarch and sifted well)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites (reserve the egg yolks to make lemon curd)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans ( I used two loaf pans instead) and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
2. For the Cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
4. 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- don't skip this step! It releases the lemon oils and takes the lemon flavour from good to fabulous. Infact I now employ this trick whenever I use citrus zest.
5. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment of a stand mixer or with a hand held 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife/toothpick 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, unmold 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 2 months So when you make this, double it, wrap well in cling film and freeze the cake and half of the lemon curd, so that you have another party waiting to happen, safely stored in your freezer!
To make the lemon curd filling, I used about half of the amount I made using the recipe here and froze the rest for another use. Lemon curd stays good in the fridge for about 2 weeks and in the freezer for about 2 months. You can also try it with other fruits to make mango curd, berry curd etc. though the sugar may have to be adjusted accordingly.
Super easy Lemony Whipped cream frosting: Whipped cream frosting is the easiest ever. You can use reddi-whip (the stuff that comes in those fun spray type cans) but then you can't really add flavorings to it. Its pretty easy to use a hand held or stand mixer to whip the liquid cream that comes in tetra packs to soft peaks. You can add your own flavourings like extracts, a dash of food colouring, liquers like Grand mariner, Bailey's etc or just a few drops of vanilla extract and some sugar. But be very careful not to over-whip, otherwise the cream will turn into butter- and that is NOT what you want for a light frothy frosting. I may have over whipped mine a little :( For the lemony whipped cream frosting, I simply whipped about 2 cups of low fat whipping cream with a few table spoons of sugar and then folded in the lemon curd by 1/4 cupfuls, mixing gently until the cream tasted "lemony" and amazing! For actual measurements, check out Deeba's recipe for a whipped cream lemon curd frosting here
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 the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). 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.
Storing: The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to 2 days.
Verdict: The cake itself is dense with a tight crumb as Dorie mentions- almost like a pound cake, not airy and light, but buttery and fresh and does not leave you feeling heavy, so you have far too many pieces without even realizing it. It made a beautiful sturdy, lemony loaf and I think I will enjoy it as a simple tea cake as well. The lemon flavours in the cake, filling and whipped cream was wonderful, especially for lemon loving me. Yes I also did eat many spoonfuls of the lemony whipped cream, how did you guess?
I would really like to try this cake with other fillings and flavourings as well, and I must try a lavender-lemon combo sometime with so many people raving about it. Though I somehow am wary of using lavender because it reminds me of soap or my grandmother's favourite Yardley talcum powder! Orange-cardamom of course is what next occurred to cardamom crazy me and would be lovely I'm sure.