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daring bakers: perfect party cake

Recipe: perfect party cake

Oh ho, it is that time again – time for a Daring Bakers Challenge. Because I just had another round o’ chemo and I am feeling very much this side of Ass, I’m going to settle with posting the progression of photos that led to my Perfect Party Cake last week and let you get your own party on wherever or however it is that you see fit. Good on ya.

Our lovely host this month was Morven.

You will find more perfect party cakes than you ever dreamt of here.

Let’s get this gig rollin’.

some lemony zest

mixing the zest with sugar to make lemony zesty sugar

prepping the baking pans

whisking eggs whites and milk

adding lemon extract for the cake

pouring the batter

baked cakes

slicing layers

whisking swiss meringue

whipping the meringue

lemony swiss meringue buttercream

spread a layer of raspberry jam

and then some buttercream

frosted and decorated

a slice for me

a slice for you

Perfect Party Cake
[print recipe]
from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder (3/4 tsp adjusted for altitude)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsps grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tbsps or 4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure lemon extract

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (omitted)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9×2-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.

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).

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.

Assemble: 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.

Storing: 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.

58 nibbles at “daring bakers: perfect party cake”

  1. manggy says:

    I hope you start to feel better, Jen :) (I think if a slice of this were still in the fridge, it would perk you right up, hee). That is truly lovely.
    And thank you, thank you, thank you for skipping the coconut. I’ll pretend that was for me.

  2. Bridget says:

    It looks great Jen! Commentary or no, it’s good to see a post from you. I hope you feel better soon.

  3. cookworm says:

    The step-by-step photos are fantastic, and your cake looks so perfect with the raspberries! Hope you feel better soon.

  4. Sarah says:

    Your cake looks amazing! Hope you are feeling better soon! :)

  5. kitten says:

    as always your blog is so inspirational. i love the step by step photos. fantastic looking cake!

  6. Caitlin says:

    That looks so pretty! I wish mine had turned out as neatly as yours did!

  7. Ivonne says:

    Jen, we’re with you! The cake is GORGEOUS!

  8. amanda says:

    your cake layers look impeccable. hope you are feeling ok

  9. Anne says:

    The cake is simply beautiful! Great photos as always :)

  10. Tori says:

    Looks great. My boyfriend, after seeing this has decided this will be the cake that I’ll make for his Dad’s birthday coming up in May. For Easter, it was a Hummingbird Cake that quickly disappeared. I hope this one goes over just as well.

    I’m glad to see that your chemo isn’t keeping you down.

    I want to include a link to a “best of craigslist” that I saw called “Cancer Rant”


  11. Antonio says:

    fantastic photos, as usual!!

  12. mimi says:

    hope you feel better again soon (as we all know you will) but your cake looks so beautifully crystal white!

  13. Christine says:

    Such an elegant way to dress the cake with just a ring of raspberries. I saw this recipe before and thought the coconut was a bit much (don’t know if that’s what you thought also) but anyway, I think the lemony flavors in the batter are perfect with the jam and fresh fruit on top. You’ve inspired me again to try to make a layered cake, Jen. It’s on the horizon, I just know it :)

  14. Meeta says:

    Jen hope you are back up soon again. Sending you all my best wishes and a huge hug. The cake looks like a dream. So smooth, creamy and moist. Perfect!

  15. peabody says:

    Your cake “speaks” volumes for you…no words needed. Feel better.

  16. Gretchen Noelle says:

    The pictures are gorgeous, worth a thousand words. Impressive that you made it and made it that beautiful! Great job. Feel better…

  17. Michelle Mcwhisky says:

    Gorgeous cake you have there! Hardly can spot any imperfection though! It’s professionally frosted, without any smear of red jam. Love the layers over there, so does the cake!

  18. Tartelette says:

    Have I told you how much you rocked lately? Well you DO! The cake looks superb! I hope you feel better and better. *hugs*

  19. Astrid says:

    The cake and the photos are spectacular. You are an artist!

  20. Judy says:

    Your cake is absolutely gorgeous. I’m just so impressed that you accomplish the challenges under such adverse conditions. I’m pulling for you.

  21. epsilon says:

    what a great, beautiful and delicious looking cake! I am so impressed! Mine isn’t half as nice as yours…

  22. Amy says:

    This cake is absolutely perfect. Feel better! xoxo

  23. a. grace says:

    do you ever get tired of creating perfection?

  24. HoneyB says:

    I love your photo progression! Beautiful cake!

  25. Taylor says:

    Wow! That is really beautiful. I just might try that with the lemons from my tree.
    Hope you’re feeling better soon so you can get some spring skiing in.

  26. cindy says:

    Gorgeous! Hey: Squaw just issued their spring pass ($179 for unlimited skiing). Tis the season to bomb the spring groomers. You should come.

  27. Kevin says:

    You cake looks amazing!

  28. Rebecca says:

    i follow your blog religiously and all your posts take the cake. harhar. hang in there!

  29. Adriana says:

    Beatiful cake!!!! great work!! :)

  30. June says:

    Beautiful looking cake. Great job.

  31. Lesley says:

    You’ve achieved cake perfection here! The icing and the berries are so great. Wonderful post, thanks!

  32. White On Rice Couple says:

    Those plump and perky raspberries just pop! on that cake! The slice just looks divine and a cappuccino would be nice to wash it down with!

  33. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    That cake looks incredible :) love the photos.

  34. Shoshanna says:

    I love the cake. Hope you feel better. :)

  35. Tina says:

    Beautiful!! Your cake looks so classic and gorgeous!! Great Job!

  36. Rosa says:

    Your cake looks perfect and really beautiful! Great job here! Wow! Nice pics, as usual…



  37. Sheltie Girl says:

    You cake looks very beautiful. Lovely pictures and presentation.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  38. Madam Chow says:

    Beautiful photos, as always. I could just reach in the screen and take a big bite. Hope you are feeling better.

  39. Aoife says:

    Chemo, Daring Bakers, not to mention all the other wonderful food you’ve been making — what are you, some kind of a superwoman?

  40. Chris says:

    This is a stunning looking cake! And, the step by steps are awesome. I am sorry you’re having to go through more chemo – I do hope you’re feeling better!

  41. Mrs Ergul says:

    Hi Jen, hope you’re feeling a lot better :) Simple but beautifully decorated Party Cake! Keep it up, you simply inspiring

  42. michelle @ TNS says:

    it’s the very archetype of a perfect party cake!

    i’m sorry about the chemo – been there, done that, came out the other side with better hair. hope you get over the hump and start feeling better soon.

  43. jenyu says:

    Mark – I am now feeling much better, but perhaps that’s because you were first to comment? :) Yes, I left the coconut off expressly for you (and me!), sweetie.

    Bridget – thanks, you’re so sweet.

    Cookworm – thank you, and I’m feeling much better now!

    Sarah – thanks.

    Kitten – pshaw! you’re too kind.

    Caitlin – you’re kidding, right? your cake looks awesome!

    Ivonne – you’re such a dear, thanks!

    Amanda – I’m doing much better, thanks sweetie!

    Anne – oh, you’re so sweet. thanks.

    Tori – nice! I hope you enjoy the cake (it’s a very nice recipe) and also thanks for the link. I have to say that she nailed most of it for me. I can’t imagine 8 months though… I only have 4 months and if someone told me I had to have 4 more I’d go bat shit!

    Antonio – thank you!

    Mimi – thanks so much.

    Christine – yeah, I am not a fan of the coconut thing. I do love raspberry and lemon (or lime) together. Such a fruity and fresh combo. I’m sure when you make your layered cake, it’s going to look like it came straight from a french bakery. As long as it keeps Pierre from wasting away to nothing ;) xxoo

    Meeta – thank you, love. You are always so kind.

    Peabody – lady, you always cheer me up!

    Gretchen – thanks!

    Michelle – oh, I had my fair share of jam appearing where it shouldn’t have! :) Thanks for your comment!

    Tartelette – you’re the best!!! xxoo

    Astrid – thank you :)

    Judy – you’re so sweet. Thanks for the encouragement. Great folks like you make this whole effort worthwhile!

    Epsilon – are you kidding? I took a look and your cake is sooo cute! I love the way you decorated it – awesome :)

    Amy – thanks!

    A.Grace – ha ha ha! you’re a hoot :) i just find i get tired a lot lately ;)

    HoneyB – thank you.

    Taylor – thanks, you’re really kind.

    Cindy – dude, you guys need to come ski HERE. My local hill is 10 minutes from my hizouse! One day, we shall shred together.

    Kevin – thanks sweetie.

    Rebecca – aw, you’re really sweet to say that. Thanks!!

    Adriana – thank you!

    June – thanks!

    Lesley – thank you :)

    WoRC – I just can’t eat these desserts – too rich for me :) Next time I need you guys to come over and help whittle it down, ‘kay?

    Laura – thanks.

    Shoshanna – thanks, I am feeling much better now :)

    Tina – :)

    Rosa – you’re too sweet. I loved the way you topped yours with almonds – yum!!

    Sheltie Girl – thank you!

    Madam Chow – I am doing much better, thanks!!

    Aoife – ah, don’t be fooled! It’s the DBs and the cooking and blogging that keep me from going mental with the chemo :)

    Chris – I am doing better now, thanks so much :)

    Mrs Ergul – you give me too much credit. I feel better, yes, but it’s in part because I can cook and share with really nice people like you.

    Michelle – don’t be sorry about the chemo, shit happens and we move on :) I’m feeling much better now and I really enjoy your potty-mouth posts on your blog – they keep me entertained when I feel like crap!

  44. Ashley says:

    Hope you’re feeling better! Your cake is gorgeous as always.

  45. Hillary says:

    Beautiful party cake! It looks absolutely perfect. I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well…get better!

  46. Stacey says:

    I love the last picture…….w/the round cake and the slice taken out. It just makes a statement!!! I bet it tasted divine…….

  47. Danielle says:

    Words aren’t needed when the images tell the story. Now that takes skillz (with a “z”). Chin up.

  48. abby says:

    my mouth is watering jen!

  49. deb says:


  50. Denise and Lenny says:

    Looks beautiful – fantastic job. We hope you are feeling better – take care of yourself!

  51. jenyu says:

    Ashley – thanks!

    Hillary – I’m much better, thank you!!

    Stacey – not bad at all :)

    Danielle – glad you like the pics!

    Abby – ha ha, awww – thank you!

    Deb – thanks :)

    Denise and Lenny – you guys are so sweet! Thanks so much!

  52. Tini says:

    Hi Jenyu,

    I made this cake today for my birthday and it’s so delicious! Again, I have made several of your recipes and all of them turn out great. Thanks again!

  53. jenyu says:

    Tini – Happy belated birthday! I’m glad you liked the cake :)

  54. Rita says:

    Hi Jen, this cake looks very great, I’d like to try it….thanks for the sharing…nice blog and nice recipe too….

  55. deena says:

    this looked so delicious I wanted to try it! I followed the directions step by step, and everything went great until it got to the icing. My icing was a liquid consistency and I couldn’t get it to solidify enough to look (or use) like icing. I ended up having to run out and get store-bought. What can I do next time to make the icing get those fluffy peaks and not the drippy liquid?


  56. jenyu says:

    deena – sounds like you didn’t beat the whites to stiff enough consistency. It should be beaten until stiff peaks form before adding the butter (and it should be cool to the touch otherwise the butter will melt). Sorry it didn’t work out – these buttercreams can be tricky if you haven’t done them before! xo

  57. Miss Tori says:

    What is the altitude where you live? I’m down in Pueblo and we’re just under 4800 feet. I’m wondering if I should use about 1.5 tsp of the baking powder?

    I love SMBC. I’ve got a bowl in my fridge just calling my name, along with some raspberry filling I made for my niece’s wedding cake. Hmm, I see a dessert in my very near future coming up.

  58. jenyu says:

    Miss Tori – I’m at 8500 feet. I think you might want to try the recipe as is since under 5000 feet can sometimes get away without any adjustments. If it doesn’t work out, then yes, perhaps try reducing the baking powder.

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