Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Perfect Party Cake

You know, I'm not the most obedient Tuesdays with Dorie baker. Sometimes I take liberties with an ingredient (or two, or three...) and I don't always stay true to the recipes. But I like to think I have my priorities in order, and I follow the instructions when they're absolutely necessary.

So when Dorie ordered us to have a party to go with this Perfect Party Cake, by golly, I had a party.

Okay, so she may not have demanded the party, so much as suggested that this is a good party cake. And I may not have had a party so much as a mini partylet. But still. An excuse to hang out with friends and eat lemon-strawberry cake? A fine recipe indeed!
You know what was not fine about this recipe? The combination of soft buttercream, slippery jam, and sweltering midday heat. I don't usually have issues with layer cakes, but this one gave me fits--it kept shifting and sprouting jam leaks from the sides. I went from having a tidy cake to a leaning tower of Pisa to a Sissy-Spacek-in-Carrie-when-she's-covered-in-blood monstrosity in about two minutes. Which wouldn't have been the end of the world, except I had the partylet planned for that evening, and kind of needed a party cake to go with it.

After much chilling, straightening, spackling with buttercream, and voodoo, I had an approximation of a straight layer cake...as long as no one looked at it wrong or breathed near it. And of course, once it was cut into, it started its slow slide into entropy once more. But at least it (moderately) held its shape until then.

As for the cake itself, I thought it was good. I liked how well it came together, and it was very easy to cut and layer. The buttercream had too much butter for my taste, and not enough sugar or lemon flavor. My biggest problem was the (cheap, supermarket brand) jam. It was way too sweet and didn't have enough strawberry flavor, and as I mentioned above, it was too loose and didn't work well as a filling. I topped the cake with lemon curd and fresh strawberries, which helped add some flavor and some tartness, but in the end it was just a little too sweet for me, without enough fresh berry taste.

I think the basic cake recipe is good, and I would make it again, but I would either add fresh berries and omit the jam, or make jam from scratch so that I could control the texture and sweetness. So for me, I guess I would have to say it was a not-quite-perfect party cake, but it still made for a great evening. Party on, Wayne.

24 comments:

  1. WOW! Liz... I'm floored! This is beautiful, looks right out of a pro pastry shop! Geez... how lucky your company was!

    Ding! Dong! ...any leftovers?

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  2. véritablement magnifique ! un gâteau parfait ! bravo :)

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  3. Absolutely gorgeous cake.

    I stuck mine in the fridge.

    It helped...tons.

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  4. Yup, good jam is the way to go with this cake. Yours looks beautiful!

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  5. Well, NO ONE would EVER know the issues of what you speak by looking at your perfect pictures, that's for sure! Nice job. Glad you could enjoy some time with friends because of this party cake. Partylet--great word, by the way. I may have to "steal" that one. I think we have partylets here a lot more than parties!

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  6. It looks gorgeous, as always. I used berries instead of jam and thought the result was fabulous!

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  7. That cake is BEAUTIFUL!! AMAZING!! Wow!!!

    Nuff said!!!

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  8. I totally agree with Vibi - your Perfect Party Cake looks Stunning! Next time I'd like to try it with lemon curd - it looks so delicious on your cake! And I'm envious of your layers - so thick!

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  9. Amazing! Your cakes are such an inspiration, so much so that I want to slow down and make mine look a little less thrown together.

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  10. Well even though it wasn't perfect, it certainly looks it. Can't tell it slipped around at all! Love the addition of lemon curd on top, never would have thought of that. I used orange wherever it called for lemon (zest, etc) and used sweet orange marmalade and lemon curd for my filling. I loved it ):

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  11. I love a woman who can bake a cake as gorgeous as this AND use the word entropy to describe its undoing. Plus, your straight-shooting review of the finished product will help a lot of bakers out there make a more perfect cake.

    Anyway, I found you on TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.

    Best,
    Casey
    Editor
    www.tastestopping.wordpress.com

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  12. That looks so good! I love lemon curd. The layers are so nice and thick!

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  13. It is beautiful! I also had jam problems, but I loved the flavor it added.

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  14. Your cake looks sooo good, I wouldn't be able to believe that it doesn't taste good!! I love how you made a party out of it though!!!

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  15. Awesome! Your cake looksbeautiful!
    Love the addition of lemon curd on top.

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  16. I love that you had a party and I love the party pics of everyone eating the cake. Your cake looks wonderful and you can't tell you had any issues that you mentioned. It looks very yummy.

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  17. What a fantastic looking cake! I love the lemon curd on top. Yum!

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  18. What a fantastic looking cake! I love the lemon curd on top.

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  19. now that is a GORGEOUS cake! i'm with you...next time I'm going all fruit and no jam.

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  20. Despite all the trouble you had with it, it's a stunning cake - fabulous presentation!!

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  21. wow, stunning cake!! I want a strawberry one now :)

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  22. Fun party and a beautiful and yummy cake! Thanks for inviting us!!

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  23. I wish I had you around to fix my baking disasters, Liz! Your cake is stunning and that lemon curd has to be the best idea ever. Fun reason (excuse?) for a party!

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  24. Looking at the finished product, no one can tell that you had problems assembling it. It looks perfect!

    BTW, love the title of your blog. :)

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