The Perfect Party Cake

I just can't believe it. My baby is one! This past year has been the quickest year of my life. And I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful little man in my life. I knew that I wanted to make a special birthday cake for his first birthday and knew exactly where to go for quality and perfection... Dorie Greenspan.

I've made this cake once before and while it tasted awesome... I did not do a good job of decorating it so I didn't show it off on the blog. This time around I was pleasantly surprised with the results. I decorated the cake with some fondant characters I bought from Wilton's website to match the Jungle Animal theme of the party.

This cake was a bit of work but definitely rewarding. And I think most in attendance loved it so I consider it a success!

Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan (p. 250)

Perfect Party Cake

For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk at room temperature (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans (I used larger pans, a 12 inch and a 14 inch, and doubled the recipe) and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the 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).

To Make the 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.

To Assemble the Cake
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. 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.

The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

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.

Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries.

You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Chili in Another Direction

After trying this recipe it will now be my go-to recipe when I'm craving chili. It definitely hit the spot and tasted WONDERFUL! I couldn't get over how great it tasted. It also kept me pretty full for quite a while. And the left overs taste even better. I had this for lunch almost every day of the week last week! And I hope to make a batch for the Superbowl.

If you're looking for a new/different chili recipe this one's for you!

Taco Soup
  • 9oz ground turkey
  • 3oz lean ground beef
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 3.5 cups tomato sauce
  • 1.5 cups water
Saute onions, zucchini & garlic until soft. Set aside mixture. Cook turkey & beef until browned. Drain all the canned goods really well. Mix all ingredients together in a large pot. Simmer over medium to medium low heat for 30 minutes.

Top with 1/4 cup light shredded cheese, 2 tablespoons light sour cream and 1-3 tablespoons salsa and serve with homemade tortilla chips for a low point meal.

Serves 12
2 points per serving of soup (toppings extra)

The Perfect Chicken Dish

A girlfriend of mine gave me a link to Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes blog and immediately I saw the recipe below. The picture was worth a thousand words and I was drooling from the start. I put it on the menu for the same week but life happened and it got pushed aside. I finally got around to making it.

I started to make it and was a bit worried that it wouldn't be as tasty as it looked since there were some pretty basic ingredients. Let me tell you... this was the best pulled chicken recipe I've had in a LONG time! It was fabulous. I served it with some pinto & black beans seasoned with onion powder, taco seasoning & salt and pepper as well as some rice and broccoli. I'm going to be using the left overs for chicken tacos at the end of the week.

You have to try this recipe!

Source: Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes

Chicken Ropa Vieja

* 3 chicken breast halves
* 1 small onion, quartered
* 1 tomato, quartered
* 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, peeled

* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 1 small onion, thinly sliced
* 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
* 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup dry white wine
* 1/2 cup tomato sauce
* reserved broth
* 1 tsp cumin, or more to taste (I like a lot)
* garlic powder
* salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken, onion, tomato, carrot, and 2 cloves of garlic into crock pot. Add water to cover, and set to high for 4 hours until the chicken is tender. If cooking on the stove, cook on medium-low, and simmer until the chicken is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Place the chicken into a bowl and shred it into strips using a fork; set aside. Reserve the liquid.

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, green peppers, and red peppers. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in chicken, tomato sauce, white wine, and about 3/4 cup of the reserved broth to create a nice sauce. Season with cumin, garlic powder salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer on low for about 10 minutes more adding more broth and seasoning if needed. Makes 4 cups.

1 cup = 4 ww points


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...