Yes, this is a cake. And on this blog, a cake can only mean one thing: it’s Daring Bakers challenge time again.
Morven (Food Art and Random Thoughts) selected Dorie’s (as in baker/author extraordinaire D. Greenspan) Perfect Party Cake for this month.
I made the cake for my own birthday party. This got me slightly in trouble with my family, who have a notion that one should never make one’s own birthday cake. But this is Birthday Rule #2. Rule #1, which always trumps Rule #2, is that the birthday girl gets to do what she wants. They knew I had them there, and they were just going to have to get over it. As you can see if you count the candles carefully, this was my 20th birthday. Sure it was.
I wish I had an amusing tale to tell about something going horribly wrong but salvaged in the end by my brilliant ingenuity and intrepid Daring Baker spirit. But no. This was, in fact, a piece of cake from beginning to end. This is a testament not to my mad cake-baking skills (ha! not!) but to the true perfection of Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, from her book Baking From My Home to Yours.
Although we had quite a bit of leeway this month to adapt the cake to our own tastes, I made mine exactly according to the original recipe: lemon-scented cake (it’s Meyer lemon season, yes!), lemon buttercream frosting, raspberry jam filling, and a shredded coconut veil.
Although I must admit that desserts on the rustic side are usually more my style (think bread pudding, berry crisp, etc.), I loved this. Rich, elegant, beautiful, a perfect flavor combination. Everyone at my birthday dinner loved it too, though my husband said he thought it could have done without the raspberry because there might be a bit too much going on flavor-wise. (Sorry my love, but it’s hard to take this seriously from a man who cannot eat Thanksgiving dinner without putting the turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes all on his fork at the same time.)
Anyway, as of now this is my go-to recipe for all birthday cakes. I had such success that next time I’ll feel confident playing around with different variations. My fellow Daring Bakers have made some jaw-dropping cakes this month, so go help yourself to some virtual slices. I suggest not doing this on an empty stomach.
A few of my observations from this month’s challenge:
- Most recipes say not to overmix cake or it will toughen. Dorie’s recipe specifically instructs beating the batter for a full two minutes to aerate it. The cake was indeed light and tender, not tough at all. Even though the recipe called for cake flour (which is low-protein), I was surprised.
- Toothpicks stuck around the sides of the two baked layers were very helpful as guides for slicing the layers in half. A really long serrated knife is also good to have.
- I had the tiniest bit of trouble spreading the buttercream over the raspberry jam between layers, maybe because the buttercream was a little thicker than it should have been. In the future I will try beating the buttercream a little less, and if it’s still too thick, put the buttercream down first, then the jam.
- The jam squished out at the sides when I put the layers together. Even though I tried to wipe it away, it was challenging to apply the light-colored frosting to the outside of the cake without getting red jam streaks through it. I found that a very thin “base coat” of frosting helped to “fix” the jam in place and I could then apply a thicker final coat of frosting without mucking it up.
- The coconut was great at masking imperfections in my frosting technique!
A beautiful birthday cake, indeed!
That looks beautiful! It’s so high! Very impressive – and a belated happy birthday to you!
Happy Birthday Susan!
Your cake is lovely. It is a surprisingly good cake! I can always seem to count on lemon.
Yes, I’m with you on your husband’s comment.
I’ve been known to make my own birthday cake from time to time too. I like to have cheesecake and most people think that’s weird, so I just make my own! 🙂 Your cake looks fabulously!
I was afraid it would be hard to spread the buttercream over the jam so I did it the opposite way…Buttercream and then jam. It worked perfectly!
Lovely cake. I spread the buttercream first, then the jam, although I did that after I scraped off the pastry cream. I loved the cake part with its lemony essence.
I’m glad you didn’t have any trouble with the cake! Sometimes it is just a nice thing to have a recipe just come together so easily and then turn out so perfect looking. Well Done and Happy Birthday!!
baking soda says
Belated Happy Birthday Susan! Nice cake, I’m happy it turned out to be so good and festive looking!
Caramella Mou says
Belated Birthday wishes, Susan!
Your cake is stunning! I had the same trouble too with the jam before the butter cream on some of the layers. Some I did backwards anyway, since I had to make my cake in tiers.
All the best,
Picture perfect! Happy Birthday!
wow this looks wonderful, i am with you on rustic but it was pretty darn good
Happy Birthday to You!
Your cake is just so beautiful, and your candles are so classy, too. That coconut looks heavenly – you could coconut sprinkling classes!
Happy Birthday! Your cake turned out beautifully 🙂
What a beautiful cake! Happy Birthday, however, belated now I am sure.
Yay! Happy Birthday to You! And that is one gorgeous cake. So much of what you’ve said is true. Excellent directions from Dorie’s recipe, the rich flavor to die for when I’m more of an apple crisp kinda person. Yep! And to make the frosting spread more easily over the jam, I dolloped it around the cake, pushing the dollops toward one another. It went very well…
for a bread baker, your cake looks so delish!! i too had problems with frosting the sides mixing in with the raspberry. i’ve seen the suggestion where you pipe a ring of buttercream on the edge of each layer, and then fill in with the layer flavor (in this case, raspberry). that way, frosting the side only comes in contact with the same buttercream. if that makes sense?? 🙂
Gretchen Noelle says
Lovely cake! Great birthday cake for yourself. I am already dreaming about what I will make for my birthday. Lessons learned are always good! Wonderful job!
Happy Birthday!! Great job on your cake. It looks wonderful!
Happy birthday! Your cake is beautiful!
lovely!!! i’m totally making my own birthday cake this year too — birthday girls can absolutely do whatever they want!
Happy Birthday! Yeah for being 20!! Glad to hear everything went down so beautifully! Love the cake! One trick is to spread your jam on the cake, freeze them and then apply the buttercream on the frozen layer, it won’t move the jam around and keep your layering nice and clean.
Hi Susan, your cake looks great. Happy belated birthday! I also liked your tips at the end, especially if I make this again using jam.
Happy Birthday to You!
Your cake looks absolutely delicious!
what a great cake! mine isn’t as beautiful, sadly
That is one pretty cake Susan…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Rules are meant to be broken…I always enjoy baking my birthday cake!! Love the way you sailed through the whole thing…way to go!!
A lovely birthday cake! I think I’m the only one who found the cake to be dry. I also found the jam business to be tricky.
That is one truly stunning cake. The coconut on the outside looks so pretty. And happy birthday to you too.
Congrats Susan, love the cake, could you email me a piece?
Your cake looks scrumptious! I love coconut, but sometimes I’m disappointed with the sweetened, flaked coconut packages I find at my grocery store. It tastes overly sweet with not enough coconut flavor. Can anyone recommend a good brand of coconut to use in baking? Thanks.
Thanks so much everyone!
Kelly, Mimi, & Tartelette, I really appreciate your suggestions and they will not go to waste since I will be making the cake again soon.
I like your birthday rules. I’m already plotting my next birthday cake! Happy birthday, and beautiful job on the cake!
Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! It looks to die for! Love the pretty candles too.
What a pretty cake!
Happy 20th Birthday Susan! 😉
I’m not adverse to making my own birthday cake either. At least I get to have my cake and eat it too!
Your cake looks totally awesome. And I would have loved to make this cake for my own birthday, but I had to settle for making it for someone else 😉
well, it also went perfectly cause, well it was your birthday, it should have gone NO other way!! It looks like a fantastic birthday cake at that! Happy Belated Birthday!!!
The cake is beautiful! Belated happy b’day!
Sheltie Girl says
Fabulous job on your cake and Happy Birthday!
Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go
Happy birthday from one of your faithful lurkers! I baked some bread using your norwich sourdough recipe and it’s the most successful sourdough bread I have ever made! Thanks for all the baking tutorials 🙂 CG
Happy Birthday! What a lovely looking cake and when it looks that tasty, it’s worth making your own!
Great job with the challenge. I like the way you decorated yours….very classic and classy! Happy birthday!
I hope you had a fab 20th birthday! ;o)
The cake is beautiful!!
I’ve discovered your blog through another blogger (Un cuore una frattaglia) met yesterday evening at an Aperitivo organized by another blogger (Il Cavoletto di Bruxelles).
Your blog is wonderful and you’re definitly a greater Daring Baker than me. I’ll follow you to learn more about the art of cooking
Susan – you made such a beautiful cake – and even better that it was for your own birthday! Its stunning! Happy happy birthday! I love the talk, skinny candles, too!
I can only count 18 candles – did you make yourself older ;-)? The cake is wonderful. Happy birthday to you!