Daring Baker time! This month Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts was our hostess and she put Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake on the menu. The original recipe is for a lemon flavoured white cake that is filled with vanilla lemon buttercream and raspberry preserves, and decorated with sweetened shredded coconut. But Morven allowed us a lot of freedom in flavour and looks.
I had to thoroughly plan making this cake because of two exams, one I did last week and one I’ll do in 4 days. So no waiting till the last minute for this one 😉 I was planning on making it the 14th and 15th but I became ill on the night I wanted to start. So I had to postpone making it. I did make the cake part a few days afterwards but the rest had to wait until the Easter weekend. A’s family was visiting for Easter and this was the cake they got.
When I was reading the original recipe the idea of using raspberries sounded so delicious that they became my starting point for brainstorming about the flavour and look of the cake. The idea of trying to recreate the flavours Pierre HermÃ© uses for his signature Ispahan was born very soon after reading the original recipe. Not that I ever had Ispahan before but the combination of flavours was sort of stuck in my mind for a long time. The basis is rose macaron filled with rose petal buttercream, litchee and raspberries.
The hardest part about making the Perfect Party Cake into Ispahan Perfect Party Cake was to decide where to put which flavour. My initial idea was to do a rose syrup flavoured buttercream but I was afraid it would be too overwhelming. Second idea was to flavour the cakes with rosewater and flavour the buttercream with raspberry puree. I fell in love with the thought of a beautiful raspberry pink buttercream. Only how to incorporate the litchee? Cutting them and adding them to the buttercream too was a possibility but I thought it just wouldn’t look pretty. Raspberries would look pretty, litchee’s wouldn’t.
Wasn’t too sure I would get the amount of rosewater right in the cake batter so I changed this idea to using rose syrup to brush the cake layers with. That way there would be a good rose flavour in at least part of the cake but not a taste that would overwhelm the entire cake.
Since I fell in love with the thought of having a pink buttercream I had to choose between a naturally coloured raspberry buttercream with ugly pieces of litchee or an artificially pink coloured litchee buttercream without ugly pieces of litchee. The decision was simple, appearances are everything 😉 and I went with the litchee buttercream. The raspberries got to be their pretty selves on top of the cake. To cover up the (somewhat messy) buttercream layer I threw some chopped pistachio’s on the sides of the cakes, and also because I love the colour combination with the pink raspberries.
And how did it taste? It tasted very good, a bit on the sweet side but very good. HermÃ© sure nows how to combine flavours, they were very good together. The only two things I’d do differently is to add a layer of raspberries to the filling of the middle layer to compensate for the sweetness a bit (also because it will look prettier). And I’d only brush the cut sides of the cakes with the rose syrup, now I brushed every layer on one side (so this included a top of a cake as well).
The only thing I wasn’t too excited about was the white cake, I thought it tasted quite heavy and was a bit dense. Maybe it tasted heavier because I didn’t add the zest, and the denseness could have been due to my baking. Next time I would use a genoise.
In case your wondering why my layers are so uneven yet straight….it’s the fault of my cake cutter, not mine 😀 It just cut higher than it was supposed to. But at least it was straight 😉
Things I changed in the recipe:
1. I omitted the lemon zest and lemon extract from the cake and used vanilla instead;
2. I omitted the preserves and brushed the layers with store bought rose syrup (the very pink kind);
3. I omitted the lemon juice and vanilla from the buttercream and added litchee puree (I used 3 tbs for half the buttercream recipe);
4. I used used meringue powder instead of egg whites to make the buttercream because my son and A’s grandmother were to eat the cake too and the egg white is not heated high enough to get rid of for example salmonella. I think the meringue powder was the reason that the buttercream wasn’t completely smooth, it had a slight powdered sugar feel to it;
5. I omitted the coconut and decorated with raspberries and chopped pistachio’s instead.
Oh, and maybe you already noticed but I made a mini cake. I used 6 inch cake pans and just halved the recipe. It was enough for 8 people, no seconds.
The family and even A loved the cake btw. My son didn’t too much but that was maybe due to the fact that he just ate 6 chocolate Easter eggs for breakfast 😉
Check out how Morven herself did. You’ll also find the recipe there.