Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Daring Bakers: Perfect Party Cake

The primary rule that all Daring Bakers need to keep in mind is that they may not deviate from the month's chosen recipe. Except, of course, when they're told to do so. Morven of Food, Art, and Random Things gave the gift of creativity when she chose Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake as this month's task. Other than following the basic cake recipe and turning the confection into a layer cake, we were given free reign over how we decorate and flavored our creations.

The main thing that restrains my creativity is my own mind, which is a shame. When trying a new recipe, I like to follow it closely to the suggested recipe so I can form my opinions of it before thinking of ways of improving it, so I knew I'd be sticking to the bulk of what Dorie had written. I did latch on to the idea of cherry jam in my layers and cherries on top, mainly because a cherry on top connotes to me the idea of a special treat, and this being your perfect party cake is a pretty special occasion. I found natura
lly colored cherries from a UK website selling bulk baking goods, which made a nice and comforting change from the uber-red cherries with they're goodness-knows-what-chemicals-in-them that I grew up eating (they also sold green cherries - green cherries? Green??! I'll stick with natural, thanks very much).

Knowing that it wouldn't be a challenge for this house of two people to eat a whole iced cake, simply a Very Bad Idea, I took all my ingredients, measuring bits, tins and hand mixers away with me over the Easter weekend which was spent with Mr A&N's extended family. The only challenge, then, would be in ensuring that the cake had enoug
h slices for the 15 people who would be there, as well as making sure that I didn't produce such a poor product that I didn't just leave my mother-in-law doubting my cooking skills, but left my husband's Aunts, Uncles, siblings, cousins, assorted spouses and friends shaking their heads in sadness at my lack of skills. Just the relaxing baking atmosphere in which I like to cocoon myself.


I found the cake and icing quite straight-forward to make, with my ancient hand blender (inherited from Mr A&N's grandmother) heating up worryingly as it clocked up the 10 minutes the icing demanded of it. The baking cake smelled wonderful, although working with an untested oven meant that I had to reduce the heat halfway through the cooking since the cake was getting a bit too brown too quickly. The cake fell a bit and pulled in from the sides of the tin as a result which made it look small and unlikely to feed 15, but once it was sliced into its layers its height promised better things.

The cake was a talking point as everyone eyed it up through the afternoon, and everyone dipped in for a slice (with 16 cherries dotted around the edges, serving sizes were partitioned nicely). The general reaction was that this was indeed a fine party cake and reminded most people of childhood birthdays. Most were fans of the icing, but would have liked the cake to have been a bit lighter and springier -
the overall effect was more dense than expected. There was one lone slice left which no one felt right claiming, so I was able to get up early and take a photo of the mangled layers before diving in for what was my Easter breakfast, saving that cherry on top for my last bite.

For the recipe, please either have a look on Morven's blog or worship at the altar of Dorie's Baking From My Home to Yours.

36 comments:

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Great job on the cake. It looks fantastic

L Vanel said...

Annemarie, a pretty cake with lovely white frosting. Great job!

Ann said...

I also like to follow a new recipe closely... and did! Your cake looks beautiful!

Baking Soda said...

Great job on the cake! With the buttercream icing it's possible to feed 16 people with this cake, you've more than saved your reputation with the inlaws!

Joy said...

I too am perplexed by those green cherries - what the heck?! The cake looks lovely. I'm sure you cemented your position as the world's most perfect daughter in law!

Bellini Valli said...

Your cake is a dream Annemarie. Great job with the challenge as always:D

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Beautiful cake Annemarie. I was bummed that mine wasn't light & airy...but after reading so many light & airy posts will have to try again! Let's see what next month has to offer us brave DBs!! Cheers & thanks for the wonderful words! Lol

Marie said...

Mmm...cherry jam and cherries on top! Fantastic idea! I may try that next time. Cherry jam is my favourite!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Annemarie that is a most cleaver idea to mark slices with the cherries! Beautiful cake. Now you have some reputation to live up to with the in laws!!

Helen said...

That looks delicious! I love the naturally coloured cherries too, I'm going to check them out. I saw a pack of red, green and yellow cherries in a shop the other day - it was so scary and weird. I'm becoming a Daring Baker too this month and I can't wait!

Peter M said...

Annmarie, the cake looks scrump and I like your detour with cherries. I guess truffle oil wouldn't go here eh??

jasmine said...

Sixteen people?

Wow. Great job, my friend.

j

Nan said...

I have that really old hand-mixer, too. The one that could burst into flames at any minute, haha. Your cake looks really delicious, congratulations!

Tartelette said...

Absolutely lip smacking good! I love the cherries on top, no wonder your guests had their eyes on the cake!

Lesley said...

I like the cherry idea, it turned out great.

Gigi said...

You did a superb job on your cake! I'll have to make this again with cherry filling next time ...yummy!

coco said...

I like how your cake turned out.. very pretty!

Andrea said...

Nothing like cooking for an audience to set the nerves on edge! You did a great job, even with an untried oven and many eyes on you. Great idea to use the cherries.

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a wonderful job on your cake. I'm so glad your family enjoyed it and were proud of your prowess in the kitchen.

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Lis said...

16 slices?? I suppose that really is a healthy portion.. huh.. maybe I should try cutting a cake (or anything for that matter) in 16 slices. But then I'd still have to hide them everywhere - which, really, isn't such a great idea because my memory sucks and then I can't find them until they've gone airborne.. so.. hmm.. 16 slices, eh? :P

BEAUTIFUL cake sweetie! I love the lil cherries on top and am so with you on the poo-poo'ing of the red-red and green cherries.. wth?

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

glamah16 said...

Oh man, cherries!

Jenny said...

Who would complain at this cake for breakfast? Not me!

Kevin said...

Your cake looks really good!

Miss Ifi said...

Yum cherries!! your cake looks amazing!! and I am glad that you didn't have any problems with it that would make your husband's family doubt your skills in the kitchen.
I must say that I am always terrified of making something for my boyfriend's family and having them hating me for it *giggles* so I totally understand.
Congratulations!

Jenny said...

Ah I feel for you Annmarie, having done the same thing with mine - made it somewhere other than my kitchen with people watching! Your cake turned out lovely.

Brilynn said...

Oh how I love cherries! Looks great!

Kate / Kajal said...

oh u daring bakers .... u really know how to make me go crazy looking at these gorgeous cakes !!! gimme a slice of that cake please :) with the green cherry :D

Elle said...

You do have fun with the hubby's family. The idea of using cherries is brilliant! Very pretty cake and you figured out how to divide it into 16! Lucky guests :)

Emiline said...

I hate having all that pressure put on you to come through with a decent baked good for a holiday. I've failed on several occasions. I can't take the pressure!! I have to bake cupcakes for my sister's wedding shower. I'm scared...

Cake looks great. Love the cherries.

Half Baked said...

Great job! Your cake looks it was very pretty and tasty! I only got one shot of a mangled leftover piece as well. Very brave making it for the in-laws:)

Lunch Buckets said...

Please tell me that wasn't really 16 servings. Please.

Jacque said...

Glad to hear it worked out. I know what you mean about experimenting on the in-laws. You take your chances on either looking like a baking pro or wanting to hide in the kitchen.

Great cake!

Ally said...

I bet the cake was just divine with the cherries! I'll have to try that next time. Looks beautiful!

Molly Loves Paris said...

Your cake turned out great. You are so daring in taking your projects away from home. I made mine for Easter dinner also, worrying about whether or not it would be a success.

HoneyB said...

Great idea with the cherries! The cake looks great!

Jaime said...

great job! i love your idea of putting cherries on top :)