Sunday, March 30, 2008

Creamsicle Cake

I was pretty happy to see the challenge this month was cake, and that it was so open to interpretation. I love baking cake, and I thought of a bunch of different things I could (and still may!) try, but in the end I went with a vanilla cake with orange curd filling, and vanilla buttercream. The last time I tried a true buttercream frosting (Yule Log) was a disaster, so I decided to keep that part simple, and hopefully successful. I was going for a creamsicle flavor, and in the end I think I nailed it.


Starting with the orange curd … I’d had a recipe for white cake with orange curd filling from Simply Recipes bookmarked for a while, this seemed like a great opportunity to try the orange curd. And best of all, the recipe called for 9 egg yolks, while the cake/frosting would use 8 egg whites. A match made in heaven? After much juicing of oranges, stirring, and some scary moments concerning gelatin, I ended up with a thick, delicious, very orange flavored and colored filling. Many spoonfuls were eaten along the way.


On to the cake. I actually bought cake flour, and even sifted it! I left out the lemon zest and extract, added in a teaspoon of vanilla, and let my mixer do the work. I am horrible when it comes to splitting cakes into layers, so instead of two pans I baked mine in three, leaving me with three layers in the end instead of four. It was hard to tell when my cakes were done; although they rose nicely, the tops never got browned at all. When I took them out of the oven they were pure white, with a tiny bit of gold around the edge, but I think at that point they were even a little bit overdone (the end result was a bit dry, in my opinion).

Brook4 Brook2

And then, the buttercream. Somehow it just all came together perfectly, although I had doubts as I added all that butter. After six minutes of beating I had the fluffiest, smoothest frosting ever. It tasted really good too! I put the whole thing together, and then into the refrigerator it went, to await a St. Patrick’s Day party the next day. The verdict: two big thumbs up! I received the highest praise from the partygoer who couldn’t even wait to swallow before declaring it “Unbelievable!” (Try to imagine that coming from a person with a big mouthful of cake!) The flavor was great, loved the frosting, although it could have probably sat out at room temperature longer before we started cutting it. The cake itself was a little dry, but I think it could have baked for a few minutes less.


Unfortunately, due to a camera malfunction, the pictures of the cut cake didn’t come out very well, but it really made a beautiful slice of cake! So, to Morven, thanks for a great recipe! I am looking forward to trying some other variations, including the original recipe. And I’m sure I will get a ton of inspiration from all of the other Daring Bakers!


- Brooke

Egg Whites Hate Me

I'm glad that this month's challenge was cake. I love cake and I have lots of fun making it...usually. I get a little apprehensive when it comes to layer cakes because I'm a crooked cake-cutter (I'm sure I'm not alone:-) But that was the least of my worries with this challenge.

First, let me say that I love this cake recipe and I will definitely make it again and again and again. I don't usually have cake flour on hand so I used regular flour and took out 2 tbsp per cup used. They looked great!

I decided to use lemon curd as my filling along with the buttercream. The cake turned out very lemony because I didn't do any actual measurements for the juice. That wasn't a bad thing because I love lemons.

I should have just spread enough of the lemon curd to cover each layer and left it at that. But...I hate wasting stuff so I just HAD to pour it all on there:

HELP! I'm drowning!!!

(Yeah...the cake probably shouldn't be floating)

I did make the buttercream (at least I thought I did). While I was pouring the buttercream out I noticed that it was very watery near the bottom. I let the cake sit a while and noticed that it looked grainy - like I sprinkled something on the top (I didn't). So, ladies and gentleman, this is why I have a hate/hate relationship with egg whites (remember the lemon meringue pie?).

As far as the taste is concerned, both my mother and I agree that it is wonderful. The cake is the perfect consistency (even with the extra moistness) and easy to make. Next time I'm going for strawberry shortcake.

P.S. I took a peek at the other entries and I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO jealous! Everyone's cake looks spectacular. Gold stars for everyone! You too, Lis and Ivonne:-)

The Perfect Party Cake (truly!)

A wonderful occasion deserves a special cake and Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake delivers and delivers consistently. I've used this recipe many times in the past with great results every time. The cake is moist which I've found is not the case with most other white cake recipes that I've tried. The layers don't bake up very high in a 9" cake pan so I've taken to using my 8" by 3" high pan (the standard cake size in Canada) which results in 3 perfect layers. There's not much more that I need to say about this great recipe so I've simply attached my pictures.

I keep forgetting to take pictures though after we've cut into the cakes - too busy enjoying (hoovering it back!) to remember to pick up the camera! You'll have to trust me that the buttercream and raspberry curd layers are the perfect complement to the sponge layers and pop against the snowy white background of the cake. The chocolate decorations are also fun to make and I think make for a whimsical cake. Thanks Morven for another fun-filled challenge.

A Lighter Version of The Perfect Party Cake


This cake was not very hard to make, the directions were very easy to follow. I actually own the cookbook and have enjoyed the recipes from this cookbook very much.

MonicaG-prepared pans MonicaG-bowlseggsbatter

My variations to the cake were the following: I used my home-made strawberry jam and I kept the lemon-flavored cake. I decided against buttercream because here in Italy desserts are not very sweet and buttercream can be overwhelmingly sweet. I chose instead to use very lightly sweetened whipped cream which gave just enough moisture to the cake layers. I did sprinkle a tiny bit of coconut on the top of the cake but not much as hubby's not a fan.

MonicaG-batterinpans MonicaG-bakedcakesinpans

I found the cutting of the layers to be the main reason the layers aren't as pretty as they could be. I was lazy, did not go looking for the dental floss (which of course indicates the fact I am not obsessed with flossing!). Had I used the floss it might have been a more even cut.


My one "complaint" and it really is not a complaint is that the crumb of the cake is quite dense - maybe it should have been more light and airy? I did whip the cake a LOT, so I can't imagine it wasn't whipped enough. It was very tasty and the lemon flavor was perfect.

MonicaG-sliced cake

All in all this cake received a lot of compliments from guests and I was glad to have made a successful challenge after my bowling ball experience with the bread last month! Thanks for the great challenge!!!


Daring Baker Challenge Report – March 2008 - ‘Perfect Party Cake’

I have had this recipe squirreled away for a while now because the recipes’ name and accompanying photo were too good to resist. Hence I was very pleased that my first Daring Baker challenge was ‘Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake’.

I read the recipe through a few times before starting; I felt reasonably confident of the actual cake making part, but the butttercream frosting made me nervous. I’ve only ever tried making a fancy frosting once before (for a Lady Baltimore cake) and the results were less than inspiring. :(

The making of the cakes went well; my hand held electric beaters made a very stressed high pitched whining noise during the final beating of the batter, it being so gorgeously thick and heavy. (Campaigning for a stand mixer for my Christmas present has already begun)

Both cakes rose well, but both domed and then cracked. I checked in my trusty Women’s Weekly cookbook/bible ‘Kitchen’ and doming & cracking is a sign that the oven is too hot or the pan is too small. In this case it must have been the former as my (new) oven is fan forced and I am still learning how to adjust recipe temperatures with this in mind.

CaitGoodall-Domed & cracked

Making the buttercream seemed to go off without a hitch, although it is strange to be making something without really knowing what result you’re aiming for.

Two parts of the recipe were unclear to me:
1. in the cake making part it says ‘beat in half of the milk-egg mixture’ but there had been no mention previous to that of combining the milk and eggs. I wasn’t sure if I should beat the eggs first, or what to do, so I decided to gently whisk the eggs & milk together.
2. the ingredients for the buttercream say ‘ ¼ fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)’ I assumed this would be ¼ cup juice but in the end I went with the second alternative, the juice from 2 large lemons, which was more liquid than ¼ cup.

I was happy with how the finished cake looked although if I could change anything I would have used less buttercream between the layers leaving more for the top & sides. I chose not to use the coconut on top as I’m not a huge fan of coconut, and also don’t know what ‘sweetened coconut’ is.

CaitGoodall-looking inside

I liked how the unfrosted cake tastes, but the taste of the buttercream does not appeal to me. I found the preserves I used a bit too sweet (I could not find any seedless preserves so I pressed mine through a sieve to remove the seeds) and combined with the buttercream, it was all too rich for my taste. Mind you, I ate a serious amount of the cake to determine that yes, it really was a bit too rich. :)

CaitGoodall-cake & 2 plates

It was good to work through a recipe that I had set aside as a ‘must try’. Definitely the most enjoyable part for me was thinking of how many other people, all over the world, were pottering about in their kitchens whisking, whipping, beating and baking at the same time.

It’s great to be a part of this!



The Daring Bakers Strike Again!!!! And of course, after 3 challenges, this daring baker still doesn't have pictures. My (inset profanity) mac just doesn't want to let me have pictures on anything!! 

Anyway back to cake..YUM! I have a love-love relationship with cake. As long as it's not to much chocolate, I can eat the whole thing! This months challenge was The Perfect Party Cake by Dorie Greenspan and oh let me tell you, it was perfect. It's a yummy velvety lemony cake with a light and fluffy lemon meringue frosting with raspberry jam in between. I followed the recipe as is but I made a few changes to the look. First, I made a square cake. Hubbs came home one day this month with a big bag of new cookware for me just because. Isn't he the best?? So I decided to play with the square ones. The cake was velvety and fluffy and lemony, everything it was supposed to be. It almost made me worry how easy this was becoming. I let it cool, and covered it to be frosted and decorated the next day. 

In the midst of all the cooking for Easter, the cake was frosted. My 2 year old niece and I made the frosting together, if I was able to put pictures in (*profanity* mac) here would be the amazingly adorable picture of my niece sitting on my kitchen floor with a small bowl of frosting and a whisk..more frosting on her than in the bowl. I decided to make 1 and a half servings of the frosting because i still wasn't sure what I was going to be doing with my decoration. 

So then I started. First I cut the 2 cakes in half. Then some jam, some frosting, next layer, little jam, some frosting and then, OOH! Stupid, forgot the fresh raspberries, and so on. Frosted around the cake smoothed it out and thought..and thought..and thought..I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to do on top. So because time was ticking I played it safe. I piped a shell border around, warmed a bit of jam so it was pour-able and poured that on top, then topped with some fresh raspberries and some shaved white chocolate.

It was a great cake, I will make it again and again. Thanks Morven for this months challenge and the rest of the daring bakers just because.

Go check out the rest of theirs now!!

My First Challenge as a Daring Baker!

This is my first challenge as a Daring Baker! I am very excited to join this group and happy to be able to participate even without having a blog of my own. You must know that when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, now 27, my Gran insisted I learn to cook. She, nor I, had any idea of the cooking queen it would release!

My husband is out of town so this was the perfect time to be creative and cook all day with no interruptions! From the moment I read we could change the flavor (not a lemon lover) my mind began to whirl! At first I thought pineapple and coconut, but it sounded boring. Then, the fruit market had Mango 2 for $1.00 and oranges that were sweet as sugar on sale, so it was decided for me.

JaneAnn-1 Cake-from-the-Oven JaneAnn-2 Cooling-cake

I had copied the recipe then made my changes,(my creation listed below)printed and was off to the kitchen. I like to get everything out measure everything out then start. That way if I get distracted, (the dog, the cat, the phone) I won’t put not enough or too much in. Did that with cookies once, but that is another story.

I made the cake which was a little confusing; it never mentioned the consistency of the batter, which look like curled milk. It to spread it , but my consistency was soft enough that a little pan shaking did the trick. I used loaf pans because, I loan my pans out and never seem to get them returned. But it turned out cute. It smelled wonderful and came out of the pans perfect! I sampled a little and it was moist and very yummy!

JaneAnn-3 Creating-the-glaze JaneAnn-4 Candied-orange-peel-

While the cake was baking I peeled and mashed the mango, with my potato masher, added the ginger and let it sit. I was not sure how zesty the ginger would make it so I add only ¼ teaspoon after an hour tasted it and added another ¼ teaspoon. Then I made the orange syrup to “baste” the cake with before I layered the mango filling and orange butter cream. I candied some orange peel for decorating but forgot to set the timer was side tracked and some of it became hard candy! Once the cakes where cool enough put everything in the fridge, planning to make frosting and assemble the next day.

JaneAnn-5 Glaze JaneAnn-6 Frosting

The frosting, I had 4 egg whites left over from my Easter bread I made in the morning, using them I followed the directions and what a beautiful frosting! It looked like satin while I was beating the whites (before the butter). Once it was done (substituting fresh orange for the lemon juice) tasted it. It was not as “orangey” as I expected and concerned if I add more juice it might change the consistency, I added 3-4 drops of orange oil. It was good not too over whelming.

JaneAnn-7 Filling JaneAnn-8 Cake-with-filling

Assembly After slicing the cakes I anchored it down with some frosting and place the top down on the board, brushed it with a table spoon or so of Orange syrup then 1/4 cup of mango filling,( I would use 1/3 c or more if made again) then a layer of frosting. I did not measure the amount of frosting, as I am not big on frosting so I used just enough to cover the filling. Continued with remaining layers, brushing top layer with Orange syrup only, then frosted. I saw a video on mock basket weaving for applying frosting. I am VERY rusting a cake decorating but figured it’s like “riding a bike”(laughing) GUESS NOT! All things considered it did not turn out too bad.

JaneAnn-9 Decorated Cake

Our family was celebrating two birthdays and Easter on Palm Sunday, so the cake will be judged by my harshest critics, my children and mother! Well every one except my son in law enjoyed it. Even my Mother said the cake was light and the filling was delicious! We all agreed the frosting was a bit much, it was very “buttery” and heavy, almost bordering on greasy. Not sure if I add more orange flavor or juice would have made a difference. I think I would make orange whip cream for frosting next time.

JaneAnn-10 Cut-Cake JaneAnn-11 Slice-of-Cake

This was a fun and very enjoyable challenge and I look forward to participating in future challenges. If anyone would like my version of the recipe please email me for a copy here.

-Jane aka Artstuff2

March 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge- Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake

Well, here I am in the midst of the finishing stages of building our house and getting ready to move. Despite the level of chaos and disarray in my life at the moment I was determined to complete this month’s challenge. This recipe is a great example of why I was excited to join this group. I have always loved baking cakes, but this one will got me out of my comfort zone and using new techniques and ingredients. I knew I wanted to make the cake for Easter dinner with my family, but I also knew that the week leading up to Easter would be very hectic. So, I decided to make this cake a 2 day event and dual location event.

Day 1: Baking the Cakes (At the apartment)

Well, first off, I had never lined the bottom of a pan with buttered parchment paper before, but it seems like a simple task. However, I think this is the part that gave me the most difficulty! The batter came together nicely and was beautiful- very light and creamy.


As the cakes were baking they smelled delicious! At this point I was regretting my “bake now, eat later” plan! After baking for about 35 minutes the cakes were well risen, springy to the touch and golden along the edges.


I waited for the cakes to cool (okay, I went to bed and set my alarm for when I thought they would be cool- I really should have started this earlier in the evening!) and then wrapped them tightly with plastic wrap a sealed them in gallon freezer bags. Into the freezer until the weekend!

Day 2: Buttercream & Decorating (At the new house!)

This was my first experience making buttercream frosting and I was a little nervous. I was trying out some new kitchen equipment and was in the middle of unpacking chaos, but everything went fine. The meringue came together well and looked beautiful.


I was worried that my butter wasn’t truly room temperature because I didn’t leave it out for very long. It worked into the frosting easily and I didn’t have any trouble with curdling. For me the lemon flavoring was a little overpowering (I am not the biggest lemon fan in general), so next time I might use different flavoring. It is great to know how to make the decedent frosting for special occasions!


I tried to decorate the cake in an Easter basket style. I had a little trouble cutting the layers evenly. I didn’t have much time so my attempt at “basket weaving” on the sides didn’t come out that well. You get the idea though!


Overall this was a fun cake that was perfect for Easter dinner. My family thought it was delicious, but a little richer than what we are used to! Certainly a perfect party cake! Thanks for the fun!



Too Much of a Good Thing; Or, The Baker's Dilemma

It is the human condition to rail against imposed strictures of behavior. Revolution is almost as inevitable as the eventual disenchantment with reality television programming. The precision of baking is part of its allure, and yet there comes a time when every baker feels the desire to grow past the boundaries of the recipe. Some are more bold than others, actually experimenting with such volatile components as types of flour, leavening, amounts of fat, sugars, &c. Personally, I tremble with terror at the thought of playing with levels of baking soda versus baking powder. When it comes to pushing my creative envelope in the kitchen, I resemble a mosaic artist, assembling the tesserae of different recipes in order to create innovation. I may use three different cookbooks to make some cupcakes, but, by thunder, I won't stray from the recipes themselves.


This month's challenge was the Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan's much-beloved cookbook. (I count myself amongst its devotees.) Per our gracious hostess, the Daring Bakers were allowed to add their own creative touches to the cake, flavoring it as we so desired, but we had to adhere to the recipe for the batter and buttercream--at least, as the basis for the cake. We could flavor the cake itself, change the flavor of the buttercream, switch out the raspberry jam in the filling for another variety, or even substitute something else entirely (preferably something edible). Given such carte blanche, I felt a tremor of panic. There were so many options! How could I decide? Besides, this cake would be posted on the internet, before the critical eyes of perhaps six or maybe even seven people! Could I possibly formulate and bake something that would fill these half-dozen readers with wonderment?

Yes, I thought to myself. Yes, I could.

Gentle Reader, I will spare you the countless permutations that ran through my head and the dozens of options I presented to Z. The only thing I knew for certain was that the suggested coconut topping from Dorie's recipe would have to go, unless I didn't want to eat a bite of the cake I'd made. (A good strategy for dieters, but I was not so masochistic.) Before despair set in, I recalled that I had a container of caramel, recipe taken from the Tartine cookbook, quietly sitting in my fridge and without use. In the Tartine book, it suggested spreading the caramel between the layers of a Devil's Food Cake. I always liked the sound of that idea, and so, ruthlessly co-opted it for my own nefarious purposes. No raspberry jam for me, thank you, sir. Out went the citrus flavoring in the cake layers, substituting vanilla extract for the lemon. But the lemony buttercream wouldn't quite work with this new flavor profile. Again, the incalculable variations for how to flavor the buttercream, until I glanced in Nick Malgieri's Perfect Cakes and saw a very similar cooked buttercream, with directions on how to create a chocolate variation. We have a winner!

All of the components came together beautifully, and when it came time to make the buttercream, I got to use my sexy new 600-watt Kitchenaid stand mixer (a gift from Z.--thanks, honey!). The caramel was a bit independently-minded when I spread it on the cut cake layers, and I didn't wind up using it all. (This was fortunate, as I wound up eating gobs of caramel from the container throughout the week. Sigh. Back on the elliptical trainer.) So, instead of cake, jam, buttercream, my variation was cake, caramel, chocolate buttercream. Once it was frosted, then I played around with some fondant decorations I'd made the day before using premade white fondant that I'd dyed and cut.

AmyS-Googie Cake

So, after all of this hand-wringing and existential crisis, how did it taste? Delicious. The caramel gave the cake layers a good, chewy body, and the chocolate buttercream had a silky texture and mild chocolate flavor. The cake itself was a winning vanilla cake that would, indeed, be perfect for a party. I may, one day, attempt it as Dorie intended, lightly citrusy with the jam filling and pure white lemon buttercream. Leftovers were given to my father-in-law for his homeowners association meeting the following night, and he reported it was very well received. Although, I imagine that even a hydrochloric acid eyewash station would be a welcome relief from the tedium of a homeowners association meeting.

In this mad world in which we live, much like Janet Jackson, we all strive for control. For a few hours, I commanded the whys and wherefores of the cake, and emerged, I believe, the victor, both over the recipe itself, and my own indecision. Thank you, again, Daring Bakers, for showing that the path to true self-awareness is paved with buttercream.

Nota Bene: Please forgive the fact that there is no photo of the sliced cake. I always hate it when there's no money shot! But time was short and the camera was not at hand, so please use your imaginations to envision the interior of the cake. Anyway, isn't using your imagination that much more provocative?)

I remain,
Your servant, &c.

Lemony Easter Cake

If Daring Bakers teaches me one thing about baking it will be how to follow directions! Ever since I began baking, I have not been able to follow a recipe exactly to the T. Sometimes I just don’t read it properly, and sometimes I just feel the need to improvise in some other way. The results of my recipe wandering have been mixed. Usually things turn out quite all right, and sometimes I’d say even better than the original recipe, but other times disaster ensues.


My version of Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake was dangerously close to not living up to its name, but I have to spoil the ending and say that it did actually turn out absolutely perfectly. I almost encountered the first disaster when I measured 2 ½ cups of sugar instead of 1 ½. I had already mixed my lemon zest in when I noticed my error - luckily I did notice it before I mixed the cake together. Never fear, I used my own recipe wandering technique to remedy the problem. I used the extra cup of lemon infused sugar for the buttercream! I was worried that my plan could stir up a whole new problem as I know buttercream can be tricky and I wasn’t sure what the intrusion of the lemon zest would do. What it did was make the buttercream extra lemony and delicious.

Oh, but I had to improvise more because I just couldn’t bring myself to use THREE sticks of butter for the buttercream. I actually wrote down the conversion of the recipe to scale it to two sticks since I usually do that in my head which doesn’t always lead to success. Don’t ask me how I scaled 4 egg whites by 2/3, but I did.

Like I said, the cake was delicious. I did follow the rest of the recipe and used raspberry preserves (but no coconut). My cakes were soft and moist and I loved the combination of lemon and raspberry. I will definitely keep this recipe handy for my next party.

-Bobbie Sue

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake for TWD

I really enjoyed this challenge - the crust making went very well; I had it in the fridge for a day and it was not too sticky to roll out; used foil and some sprinkled flour to get it to go smoothly and it flipped quite easily into the dish. I used Golden Delicious apples and baked it for 65 mins. I just loved the puffy rising of the crust due to the baking powder. What would I do differently next time? Use foil strips to cover the edges of the pie dish as the edges got too brown and use a mix of different types of apples for more flavor; otherwise it was a winner. I took it to the Office on Monday and it got excellent reviews so I felt much encouraged. I have never baked an apple pie before now. Am looking forward to the Brioche Raisin Snails for next week. Lovelycats.

Monday, March 10, 2008


That’s what I did when I found out the challenge for February. Bake bread? Like Julia Child??? I panicked. Once I regained my senses (and consciousness) I decided that I would follow through with the challenge. Say it with me now, “I’m a Daring Baker… I’m a Daring Baker…”

So the King and I got to work:

I do have a dough hook but I decided that I would take a shot at working the dough using the hand method.

Everything seems to be going as planned. Time to let the dough rise at around 70 degrees. We use a wood stove for heat so that shouldn’t be a problem.

If you can’t read that thermometer, it is 70 degrees EXACTLY. Perfect temperature! This is what I’d like to call The Sweetness – it just doesn’t get any better than that. The dough didn’t seem to complain – it rose to the occasion (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) and looked pretty good after the first 2 risings.
Prior to this challenge I was not familiar with fancy-schmancy French terms such as “Batards”, “Ficelles”, “Boules” and “Petit Pains.” I’m just a regular gal from Jersey who uses words like loaf, slice, biscuit…you catch my drift. So I had to consult an expert for the fancy words.

I decided to go with Petits Pains - round or oval loaves (whatever shape they decided to be).

I think they look great, but they taste pretty darn good too!

I’m glad I followed through with this challenge. Maybe I was afraid of the time frame, but the bread did most of the work on its own while I did other things. I think it was worth it because I got a lot of compliments on my creations and now I can say that I got mad bread-baking skills! HOLLA!!!