I also tend to be a little passive-aggressive about these challenges. I plan every detail of what I am going to do and how I am going to do it, but then my "inner insecure child" takes over and I get nervous about cracking that first egg. With all of the talented and creative DBers out there, how will I "measure up"? You see, I'm pretty new to this baking thing and still not totally comfortable with it. That's one of the reasons I joined this wonderful group - to make me reach out of my comfort zone and attempt things in my oven that I never had the guts to try before.
That's how it came to be that I was pouring cake batter and whipping egg whites at 2:00 this morning! I don't know why I was so worried. Everything about this challenge came off without a hitch and left me wishing that I really had a party to go to so that I could show off my beautiful, fancy cake!
The only thing I changed about the filling in my cake was to also add some lemon curd in between the layers. I really wanted a little tartness to offset the sweetness of the raspberry jam. It was a good call. I loved the way the three fillings worked together. As a matter of fact, I just loved this cake, period. It was moist and light, and the fillings were the perfect creamy balance of sweet and tart. I would definitely make this one again. It truly is the "perfect party cake". The only problem is, who am I going to get to make this for me when my birthday comes around in May!?!?
For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
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.
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.
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.