Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Baker's Challenge # 2 -- Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

Finally, a Daring Baker's Challenge this gluten free, ginger lemon girl could handle! They really believe in a serious challenge every month, those pesky Daring Baker's! But I love it! It's fun to be given a secret challenge once a month to bake something that I most likely have never baked before! This month's challenge, hosted by Morven, is Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake.

Can we say SUGAR HIGH?

Oh my goodness. Yes!

Actually, as much as I love sweet desserts, Hershey's chocolate bars, and chocolate icing... I just can't take things SUPER sweet. I really can't. And this cake IS SO super sweet!!

It's a beautiful cake and it was relatively easy to convert to gluten free, but next time I will cut the sugar in half... or more. I also need to work on how to change the consistency of the cake. I think I may have added a bit too much xanthan gum, which gave the cake layers a very gummy texture. I also lowered the amount of fat from the original recipe. I used reduced fat cream cheese in place of 4 Tbsp. of butter. The cake was delicious (though incredibly sweet!)

The best part about this cake was that it created an instant friendship between myself and fellow gluten free bloggers and Daring Bakers: Natalie of Gluten Free A Go Go, and Esther of The Lilac Kitchen (Proud mama of a new baby boy!). We spent one Saturday morning baking our cakes and emailing each other back and forth on how our individual recipes were turning out, what we were learning, and if we needed help with anything! It was a wonderful and fun baking experience, which I hope the three of us will repeat on a regular basis!

The 2nd best part was that I learned how to make a true "hot" buttercream icing by following the directions exactly. Don't take any reduced fat shortcuts here, my friends. It just won't work! This buttercream has to be just that... full of full-fat butter for it to come together properly. I tried to make a reduced fat version the first time and it was not a pretty site. But once I got the hang of the icing, I felt like a baking queen. Watch out Martha Stewart! I've got the whole buttercream thing down pat, my dear! You've got nothing on me... okay, except for maybe all that crafty stuff...

Here is my gluten free rendition of Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake. I have lowered the original amounts of xanthan gum and sugar that I used. If you try this cake, please let me know how it turns out for you! Learning how to make the buttercream is definitely a skill worth having!

Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake
(adapted gluten free, lower sugar, and lower fat)

Cake Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. coconut flour
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup low fat buttermilk
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) butter, unsalted, room temp.
4 Tbsp. reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Buttercream Ingredients
(Please don't faint!)
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (YES, 3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Finishing Ingredients
2/3 cup reduced sugar strawberry preserves, stirred vigorously, or warmed

Directions for the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 9" cake pans and line bottoms with round of buttered parchment paper or wax paper. Place pans on a heavy baking sheet.
2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. In another medium sized bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg whites. Put sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl and rub together until sugar is moist and fragrant.
3. Add butter and cream cheese. With paddle attachment, beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Should be very light and creamy.
4. Beat in lemon extract, then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, still on medium speed. Beat in half of milk/egg mixture, then half of dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add rest of milk/egg mixture, beating until batter is homogeneous. Beat additional 2 minutes to make sure the cake is well aerated.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cakes are well risen and springy. Toothpick should come out clean. Transfer to cooling racks and let sit for 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake, unmold and peel off layers of parchment paper. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

Directions for the Buttercream:
1. Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl. Fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk mixture 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 bowl from heat.
2. Working with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment and add butter one stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat 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 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.
4. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

Directions for assembling 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 (under the cake, so that your cake plate doesn't get icing on it; you can pull these out when you are finished decorating). Spread layer with 1/3 of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about 1/4 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 left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to decoratively frost the sides and top of the cake.

For a printer friendly version, click here.

For another lovely, gluten free version of this cake, visit Sheltie Girl, at Gluten Free A Go Go.

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  1. That is one beautiful cake. Congratulations on your second challenge :D


  2. Thank you Ben!! It was a lot of fun!

  3. Carrie -- Your cake turned out so beautifully. With all the lovely fruit on the inside, it looks simply scrumptious.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  4. Really impressive! And gorgeous, too!

  5. Carrie, a very pretty cake. You've done a great job.

  6. Pretty cake seem to have enjoyed it a lot! GREAT!!Mine was super sweet too...& the kids LOVED IT!!Good to hear you made blogfriends too...that's what I like about Db's; they're such a swell lot! Cheers my dear!

  7. Carrie, that's a beautiful cake! Great job on the challenge. I'll have to try your version. :)

  8. Great job! I love that it is gluten-free! You guys are amazing for converting everything!

  9. That turned out just beautifully. I love the fruit! Libby

  10. Oh, yum, that cake looks delicious! I would love to try your gluten free version, as I've never used rice flour or xathan gum in baking before. Love how beautifully your layers turned out :)

  11. pretty! looks delicious--i'm so impressed with your gluten free skills!

  12. I'm impressed - your cake looks great! Way to go with your conversions.


  13. This looks great. I only wish we lived closer so I could be a test taster.

  14. great job! It really does look delicious.

  15. It's simply beautiful...
    Glad to know you had fun with this challenge :)

  16. I love you cake!! great that it worked out fine gluten free

  17. Your cake is so beautiful! I am so impressed, really! And thank you for your kind comments, really, coming from you it is so flattering!

  18. What a beautiful cake!! I am so glad it was easy for you to convert to gluten free.

  19. What a beautiful cake and it looks so tempting. I would love a piece right now. Now I'm going to be craving cake all day. LOL.

  20. YOu did a great job. Glad you could make the recipe work for you.

  21. Glad you enjoyed the challenge - you cake looks great.

  22. What a wonderful job you did adapting the recipe! Looks great!

  23. Your cake looks so good! I would love to try a gluten free cake.

  24. EVERYONE -- Thank you so much for your kind comments and support!! I am having so much fun with the daring baker's!! I love you guys!!

  25. Congratulations on your challenge well executed! It is per-fect indeed! What a great interpretation of the challenge. I am impressed!

  26. Your cake looks so lovely! I am always impressed with your baking efforts!

  27. What a fun cake. I'm super impressed that you were able to do it gluten free. Grats!!!

  28. Lovely, fresh looking, perfect cake! You GFDBs rock!

  29. Looks great and next time I hope to do the actual baking not just listen to how it went for the two of you :) The tiny one likes being in a sling which makes it more likely than it would be otherwise though of course there are things cooking wise that it wouldn't be wise to have him in a sling for, working with hot fat and the like.

  30. What a beautiful cake! I didn't really find the actual cake too sweet, but I can imagine that the buttercream made it super rich.