Perfect Party Cake

March 30, 2008 at 6:00 am | Posted in Daring Bakers | 38 Comments
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It’s another Daring Bakers Challenge day! You are about to see hundreds of cakes pop up on blogs across the world. This month’s challenge; Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. I was thrilled, just thrilled that we were to make a cake!


Rather than one big cake, I decided to make mini-cakes. Still the same process, but rather than bake in two 9-inch rounds, I baked my cakes in 10 small ramekins. For the ramekins I buttered and floured ramekins and filled them about 3/4 high. The cake rose beautifully (higher than the ramekin). When it was finished and cooled, I sliced the top off to level it out. Then I cut the cake in half, then both sides in half again. Very do-able with a good serrated knife.I made several mini-cakes with the traditional raspberry jam and lemon buttercream.


I also did some with fresh blueberries and the lemon buttercream.


And for my “I only eat white food” son I made some with just the buttercream.


This challenge was a lot of fun. I will be making this cake again. I think the recipe is just perfect as it is and wouldn’t change a thing.

My thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Morven for choosing the Perfect Party Cake. I had a lot of fun with this challenge and am looking forward to making this cake again!

For the Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I used nonfat milk with fresh lemon juice)
  • 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 (I used Cointreau)

For the 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

Center 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 clean. Transfer 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 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 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.


The 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.


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  1. Karen,

    You really have SUCH a talent for baking!! I’m always so impressed by the beauty of your presentation and photographs 🙂


  2. What fun these mini cakes are! This was exactly what I wanted to do but thought to bake it as a large sheet and then cut small circles. Yeah, that didn’t work. So I went for a big square instead! I just liked the thought of little ones with layers that I could see. And then you went and did it! Great job!!!

  3. Ah, these are so cute!

  4. Love the mini cakes and the variations! Great job!

  5. Mini-cakes…What a fabulous idea! I just love the blueberry version! Gorgeous! 🙂

  6. Look at you with your very-cute little tall cakes! And how funny that your son claims to only like *white food!* 🙂

  7. So cute! I’ll take a blueberry! I loved the cake, I still need to work on the buttercream!

  8. Love the mini cakes. Every one gets their perfect party cake!

  9. What lovely stacked cakes! I love your use of fresh fruit.

  10. I am so happy to have found your site. I am also always trying to do better for my family (and myself!) Your cakes turned out really cute. Your blog is a lot of fun and I enjoy reading it.

  11. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cake with the blueberries it’s so elegant and pretty, one of the nicest I’ve seen!

  12. Wow, these are adorable! I love any kind of “mini” dessert. The version with fresh blueberries looks so beautiful! -Amy

  13. Wow!! Those mini cakes are so gorgeous. I love personal servings and your cakes are no exception to this! Amazing work!

  14. I can’t believe how adorable these baby-cakes are!! The layers are so dramatic when the diameter is reduced. They’re really showstoppers, and they look delicious, of course!

  15. I have seen a few people do the mini cakes, and I love it! I especially love that you did each a different flavor.

  16. Those are THE cutest little cakes!! Well done!

  17. Love them all…!! :)WEell done!

  18. I love the mini cakes idea! What a great way to serve varieties of one cake.

  19. i love looking at cakes. I have so enjoyed checking out everyones cakes!

    Yours is so very cute! Nicely done. It is begging to be eaten.

  20. those are so cute looking!!!! what a great idea!

  21. Fun fun fun, yours look like shortcakes! Really cute!

  22. Adorable mini cakes! I bet the blueberries and lemon buttercream were a match made in heaven!

  23. Darling!! Love the size — it’s a perfect cake to celebrate with a good friend who went out of town for the weekend and returns home safely!!

  24. Too cute! 🙂 I love that you made mini cakes with different fillings.

  25. Oh Karen…I love them like this. I adore the idea of single servings & mini cakes; such a great idea. Brilliant..more so, I love the fact that you enjoyed the challenge so much!

  26. Karen, beautiful! Once again you did a marvelous job. 🙂

  27. Oh how nice to make three variations! Very very interesting! 🙂

  28. So cute! I actually think I’ll go with J on this one. His looks great and so simple :), even though it’s white!

  29. Awww, tiny cute cakes! (The fresh blueberry one is my favorite!) 🙂

  30. The mini blueberry cake is especially adorable! Great job!

  31. These are so lovely 🙂 And your pictures OF COURSE add to their class! Girl, you never fail to impress with your mini bundles of yums ! Love it ❤

  32. Karen,

    I would happily dig into that trio of gorgeous cakes!

  33. these are so cute!

  34. Great job – they are beautiful. What a great idea to use ramekins! Now I have another use for mine….mini cakes! 😀

  35. Your cakes are super cute, and look really yummy. We must be baking twins separated at birth – a couple of weeks ago I baked chocolate cupcakes and put mini Cadbury Eggs in the center, much like you Reeses inspired batch! Yum!
    And I’m stealing your mango salsa recipe, it looks really delicious!
    Thanks for your nice comments on my cake!

  36. Awww those are such lovely cakes!!! Congratulations!!!

  37. These are beautiful! And I love the fact that by making these individually you can make them to fit the person eating it!

  38. How adorable! 🙂

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