The perfect party cake, this lightly lemon cake is layered with raspberry preserves and a smooth, velvety buttercream frosting and then covered in sweetened coconut.
First of all, and most importantly, Happy Birthday (and blog birthday) to Meeta!! Meeta’s blog is the first food blog I found, discovered through her wonderful pictures on Flickr. I remember seeing something about one of the Monthly Mingles she was holding and being very confused about what was going on. Now that I have been blogging for a few months, I am no longer confused about what a blogging event is, and I am proud to be sending my first entry to this Monthly Mingle event. I knew I wanted to participate when I heard it was a birthday party (I do love sweets!) but I didn’t know what I wanted to make. I thought of doing some cupcakes, but then I received my copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours and saw a picture of this recipe, and I knew that I had to make it for the birthday bash. It looked like the perfect party cake!!
So, being the procrastinator I am, I waited until the end and finally made the cake last night. I am striving to become a better baker – I have always been a cake mix baker before. But I do have to say, there is something really therapeutic about baking – especially the step when you rub the sugar and the lemon zest together with your fingers. I stood there, fingers covered in sugar, just inhaling the wonderful scent of the lemon sugar. My novice baking skills really show in this cake – it’s not nearly as pretty as Dorie’s. I wanted the layers to be perfect, but my skills aren’t quite there yet, and I had trouble keeping the buttercream frosting on top of the raspberry preserves – instead it kept mixing in with the raspberry preserves. And I have to admit that at one point, I doubted Dorie (shame on me) when I was putting together the buttercream frosting. This was my first time making buttercream frosting and after 4 or 5 minutes of beating, it was still very thin. But I followed the instructions and kept beating, and sure enough, just as Dorie wrote, after about 7 minutes, the frosting became a beautiful thick, glossy frosting. I almost didn’t have enough frosting (I think I put too much in between the layers) but luckily, the coconut on the cake covered any spots that were a little thin on frosting. Overall, it was a very good learning experience for me. I have decided that baking is an art. There are many, many blogs out there that bake so beautifully, and I truly consider those people artists. I only hope that with practice, one day my baked goods will turn out as beautiful!
I do have to mention that this cake is very sweet. I cut myself a piece once I finished to enjoy my accomplishment, but I couldn’t finish a normal sized piece of cake. The cake is very good, but very sweet – so it is probably best enjoyed with a tall glass of milk! I cut the rest of the cake into smaller pieces to take to work the next day.
- 2¼ cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
- 4 large egg whites
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- ½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large egg whites
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
- About 1½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
- Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Spray 2 9-inch cake pans lightly with nonstick spray, then line the bottoms with parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment paper. Place the cake pans on a baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and the lemon zest. Using your finger, rub the zest into the sugar until it is moist and fragrant. Add the butter to the sugar mixture and beat until very light, 3 minutes. Beat in the lemon extract. Beating on medium speed, add one third of the flour mixture. Beat in half of the milk/egg mixture, then half of the remaining dry mixture. Add the remaining milk/egg mixture, followed by the remaining dry mixture, beating on medium the whole time. Beat for 2 minutes, making sure everything is thoroughly mixed and aerated. Divide the mixture between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until springy to the touch and baked through. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan. Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack and remove the paper liners. Cool to room temperature.
- Place the sugar and egg whites in a mixing bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly. Whisk until it feels hot to the touch and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. The mixture should look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
- With the whisk attachment (or a hand mixer), beat until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the butter, one stick at a time, and beat until very smooth. Once all of the butter has been incorporated, beat on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. The mixture may curdle or separate - just continue to beat until it comes together. With the mixer on medium, add the lemon juice gradually, and then the vanilla. The frosting should be shiny and velvety.
- Use a sharp serrated knife to slice each cake layer into half horizontally. Place one cake layer, cut side up, on a cake plate. Spread one-third of the preserves on the cake. Cover the jam with about one-quarter of the buttercream. Top with another cake layer, spread with one-third of the preserves and one-quarter of the buttercream. Repeat with a third layer, using the remaining preserves and another quarter of the buttercream. Place the last layer on top, cut side down. Use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top of the cake. Gently press the coconut into the frosting on the sides and top of the cake.