It's Time To Be Daring Once Again!

I missed doing last month's French bread challenge - which sucked. I had everything lined up and then the crap hit the fan.

Oh well.

This month it's cake! Woot! Perfect timing - as you know - for my daughter's birthday. I usually make her a nice dinner with the dessert of her choice. This time I told her I had to make this cake and she was cool with that. I figure she just wanted to rubberneck at the impending disaster.

The Daring Bakers' challenge this month was Dorie's Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s
Baking from My Home to Yours. It was hosted by Morven over at Food Art and Random Thoughts. Thank you for giving us another wonderful challenge. And it was a challenge - I rarely if ever bake real cakes from scratch. My mother was never much of a scratch baker - she had had her fill of it when she was a younger woman. Imagine making butter cream icing with nothing but a hand whisk. *waits for the horror to set in* Yeah - you can see where my mom's generation thought that pre-made icing and cake mixes were a godsend. Personally, I usually stick to mixes - *gasp* - for things like layer cakes.

I jumped into the project with a lot of zest - lemon zest (har-de-har-har -nudge nudge wink wink). The whole flavor theme of the cake was lemon. Lemon zest and extract in the cake, lemon juice in the icing along with raspberry jam in between the layers.

The batter came together pretty dog-gone well. It was nice and silky looking as I put it in the pans and stuck it in the oven. However, it failed to rise properly. The layers came out flat - damn flat. Having read other bakers' comments I had used cake flour and made sure my leavening was very fresh. Personally, I am wondering if not flouring the pan had something to do with it. The recipe does not specifically call for greasing and flouring the cake pans. I thought that was in contrast to some kind of "cake wisdom" - I remember my aunt always flouring her pans. But being a neophyte cake person, I just went with the flow on this one. Also, I think my oven is running too hot again. I had my landlord adjust the thermostat about 6 moths ago, but its an ancient piece of crapola - and who knows if the adjustments need made again. Looking at the sides of the finished cake - plus the fact it was done about 5 minutes early suggest that this would be a factor.

You can see by the crumb that I also over-mixed the poor batter. Those tunnels - bad bad bad.

So basically I ended up with flat dry cake. Not good. In retrospect, I probably should have brushed on some raspberry liquor to help moisten things up some. Nothing I could do about the height. Because of the height issue, I decided not to attempt splitting the layers. That and I am a chicken. Cluck cluck.

So on to the icing. It sounded good - but the recipe calls for a meringue butter cream - lemon flavored of course! The first step is to heat the eggs and sugar over simmering water until all the sugar is melted. This went fine. I then beat the egg whites and sugar as directed. It didn't really fluff much. I was not sure if this was correct or not. I felt the recipe was a little short of "indicators" like - "after 5 minutes of beating, you should have stiff peaks" or " if your egg whites look flat you should just go buy a can of frosting, you git." It would have been a big help.

So, soldiering on, I starting dropping the butter in - 3 WHOLE STICKS!!!!!!!!! The icing looked great. All creamy and buttery... Assembly got a bit messy. I was never any good at icing my cakes - it is all a matter of practice and I just don't do it often enough to be proficient. A telling sign - my daughter came in while I was embattled with final coat and said" Wow Mom - I am sure it will taste better than it looks!"

So here is the final cake. It isn't very decorative. That's OK - we ate it up anyway.

The good news - Mom is much better at Photoshop than she is at icing a cake - so here is the cool cake I would have liked to have made....

Happy Birthday Annie!!


Jigginjessica said...

I like the photoshopped version :) Even if your cake didn't rise enough it still looks good.

jasmine said...

Hee! I'm sure Brandon and the boys send you their best :)


Anonymous said...

You are too funny! And do not worry, I have gone through all of the A's, half of the B's and a few randome DB-ing friends and I think about half of them had flat pancakes. Seems the cake got eaten anyways, so all is well, no?

kimberleyblue said...

My cakes didn't rise either, but it was still delicious!

Good job with the cake!

Columbus Foodie said...

Did you use buttermilk? Mine rose some, more than most of the others did, and I used Dorie's revised directions 1 cup minus 2 tsp. or whatever and also used buttermilk, and beat the crap out of the buttermilk/egg white mixture before making the batter. Who knows?

It did taste pretty good, though - I sent the rest of ours home with my mom, so it could fatten her and hers up rather than me and Paul - I'm with you - for 3 sticks of butter, it had damn well better be worth it. ;)

Ritsumei said...

Looks like you had a good go at it & had some fun in the process. That photoshoped version is too funny. Yay DBs!

L Vanel said...

Sorry your cake didn't rise (mine didn't either) but hey, we live and learn! You did a great job with icing it and the photoshopped topper is very creative! Kudos!

Barbara Bakes said...

I'm much better at Photoshop than cake decorating too! I'm sure your cake was delicious!

Lis said...

hehe I feel your pain when it comes to frosting.. gah. One day I'm going to learn how.. one day..

Still it looks great and way to go with photoshop! heee!


Jennifer said...

haha! Great cake, and great mom for helping you decorate! :)

creampuff said...

I think the cake looks great and I'm sure your daughter loved it!

sarahmarie said...

HA HA! I love the killers cake. They are my favorite! The cake looks great! Piping the edges would really make it look finished. And piping is SO easy!

This was a great challenge. My first one. It was so tasty!

Big Boys Oven said...

hahahah it ended so amazing!lol!

SweetDesigns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosie said...

Thanks guys! You make me feel much better...

Columbus Foodie - I did buttermilk and cake flour. I have a feeling that I would need to make the recipe again to make sure I was doing it right - I am going to get out Cookwise and do some research. I'll let you know if I figure it out.

Sarahmarie - I have a unreasoning fear of pastry decorating, so I hope to join therapy (ie cake decorating classes) sometime in the future.

See you guys next month!!

Lunch Buckets said...

If I had to do it all by hand we'd only eat frozen dinners. No doubt about it!

Anonymous said...

I read your blog every so often and this post brings to mind a question. I have been looking for a frosting recipe that is similar to Cheryl's cookies sugar cookie frosting. Her frosting seems to have a buttery-sour creamy taste. It is something I am addicted to and have looked everywhere for a recipe and tried a few as well. Have you ever had it? And, is this frosting similar? Any way to get a recipe?

Actually, I'd like to have a similar cookie recipe as well. :)

Rosie said...

This recipe is not in anyway similar to the cookie icing you are talking about. It is amazingly bland except for the flavoring that you add to it.

Have you tried a cream cheese icing on your cookies? The cream cheese adds a subtle tang to the icing - it is also the secret to Cinnabun's icing.

I made some Pumpkin Rocks a while back and they had a cream cheese frosting

cream-cheese frosting
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, slightly softened and cut into chunks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice

For the frosting
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low, then medium, speed, beat together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla until well blended and very smooth. Add the orange juice and beat until evenly in­corporated. If the frosting is very stiff, add enough water to thin it to a spreadable but still firm consistency. Set the wire racks with the cookies over wax paper to catch drips. Using a table knife, swirl about 1 teaspoon frosting over the center of each cookie top. Let stand until the frosting completely sets, at least 1 hour.

Hope that gets you on the right road!

Anonymous said...

I just stopped back and saw your post. Actually, I wonder if Cheryl's uses cream cheese. It has a distinct flavor that I've tried to discern and wondered if that included creme cheese. I might tinker with your recipe and see if there is some way to incorporate butter and cream cheese. haha Thanks

Anonymous said...

Just found this while digging on the net and thought you might like it. Your recommendation of cream cheese got me to do a Google search.