I pondered briefly the age old question of “chocolate or vanilla?” before deciding on Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. The cake is a classic, and I’ve made it twice now with success. The first time I made it as cupcakes and this time I baked it in a 9″x13″ pan. The cake cake out a bit flatter than I expected, but I also recall that the cupcakes didn’t rise a whole bunch either.
That being said, there was plenty of cake to go around and I sliced the slab of cake in thirds and stacked them on top of each other. That, combined with the great buttercream icing recipe I borrowed from The Repressed Pastry Chef (great blog, check it out!), is one heck of a cake! The one thing I will say about the buttercream is that it used Crisco as well as butter. I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of the shortening taste in my icing. It makes it taste more like a “commercial” cake. Still, it was delicious and I managed to slather practically a whole recipe of her icing onto my cake.
So, without further ado, Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake and Em’s Favourite Buttercream Icing (Click on the link for the icing recipe.)
Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake
adapted from Dorie’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
(for 2 9inch pans)
2 1/4 C cake flour (Substitute: add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to a cup, then fill until level with all purpose flour)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C whole milk or buttermilk (I used 2% — turned out fine)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest (I omitted this)
1 stick (or 1/2 C or 4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure lemon extract (I added vanilla extract instead — if you use the lemon, go with buttermilk)
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each 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 will aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula (or one 9″x13″ pan).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (I baked mine for 25 min), 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, unmold 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 2 months.)