The Perfect Party Cake



And perfect it was. This was no surprise, given that this is a Dorie Greenspan recipe. Thanks to Tuesdays With Dorie I have become a huge Dorie fan, and have found that all of her recipes are nothing short of foolproof.

This month was hosted by Morven at Food Art and Random Thoughts and we were given quite a bit of leeway for this challenge. It was certainly a nice change of pace, so thank you! The original cake recipe calls for lemon zest and extract, but not being the biggest fan of lemon (as was evidenced by giving away my Lemon Meringue Pie in January), I took the advice of my friend Laurie (otherwise known as quirky cupcake), who thought that orange would be a nice complement to the raspberry used in the recipe. Well, isn’t she a smarty pants, because orange tasted fantastic in this recipe!


Aside from that change, the only other modification I made was the icing, as the original recipe calls for a meringue buttercream, but I thought that a cream cheese frosting would be just wonderful with the citrus and fruit flavors in the cake. It turned out to be perfect, although I would like to give the meringue buttercream a shot one of these days as well.

A number of people reported having problems with the cake not rising, but mine seemed to puff up just as Dorie said it would. The recipe gives the option of using the paddle or whisk attachment of the stand mixer, and I opted for the whisk as I figured it would infuse even more air and fluff into the cake, and whether it was the whisk or not, the resulting cake was perfectly moist and fluffy.

The only problem I really had came during assembly. I found it near impossible to spread the frosting on TOP of the raspberry layer. The frosting just kind of slid around, and raspberry jam slid everywhere. In hindsight, I would put the layers prepared with the raspberry jam in the freezer to set somewhat before trying to frost on top of it. Another friend of mine, Amber, also had a great idea – she reversed the layer and put the frosting on first and then the jam on top. She said this worked very well, so that’s another approach to consider next time.



I loved this cake and couldn’t get enough of it.  The flavors complemented each other perfectly and the result was an extremely moist and fluffy cake with both a light taste and texture. I couldn’t think of a better cake for a spring or summer special occasion!

This will certainly be a cake recipe that I keep to use as a base for multiple flavor combinations.



Perfect Party Cake

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
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 Finishing:
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
8 cups powdered sugar


1. 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 pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

2. 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).

3. To make the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting: In a medium mixing bowl combine cream cheese, butter and orange juice. Beat on low to medium until light and fluffy. Gradually add 4 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency.

4. 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 frosting. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and frosting and then do the same with a third layer (you'll have used all the jam and have frosting leftover). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining frosting to frost the sides and top.

Serving: 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.

Storing: 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.

(Recipe for the Perfect Party Cake adapted from Dorie Greenspan "Baking: From My Home to Yours" p. 250; recipe for the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from quirky cupcake)


112 Responses to “The Perfect Party Cake”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. BitterSweet on March 29, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    I like how you decorated your cake- It looks great!


  2. Courtney Foster on March 29, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    your cake looks beautiful glad you liked it so much!


  3. Rachel on March 29, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    It looks picture perfect (and perfectly orangey)! Congrats. :)


  4. Courtney on March 30, 2008 at 12:02 am

    I like how you used a cream cheese frosting with this, This cake is so adaptable!


  5. nikki57 on March 30, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Well at least it doesn’t look like you had problems with the raspberry filling. Looks great!


  6. CB on March 30, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Perfect party cake fo sho! I love the raspberry and orange. Looks fabulous. I lurve cream cheese frosting… Mmmm..


  7. Chris on March 30, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Great job!


  8. Baking Soda on March 30, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Smooth icing! Great job.


  9. Morven on March 30, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Your cake looks gorgeous – I want a piece.

    Glad you enjoyed the challenge.


  10. Gretchen Noelle on March 30, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Lovely cake! I like how the layers turned out almost pink in between the cake. And mango sounds like a fun experiment, I am sure it will be perfect! Great job!


  11. Maryann on March 30, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Orange sounds wonderful! Mine was slippery too, so I put the frosting in the fridge for a bit. Great job!


  12. Valerie Adams on March 30, 2008 at 8:05 am

    You frosting came out beautifully. I never have good luck with butterceam for some reason. I should probably stay away from it. I love your decorations, so refreshing!


  13. Lucy V on March 30, 2008 at 8:28 am

    A very pretty cake. Beautiful use of fresh fruit on top.


  14. slush on March 30, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Gorgeous Dah-ling! Its stunning! Cant wait to see the mango variation too.


  15. Sarah on March 30, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Your cake looks awesome! I went with a whipped cream/cream cheese frosting instead of the buttercream and was happy with it. Great job!


  16. Amber on March 30, 2008 at 9:34 am

    It is absolutely beautiful Chelle, the decorations are simple yet elegant. The orange sounds like a great sub for the lemon. To the next challenge we go!


  17. White On Rice Couple on March 30, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Good call on the cream cheese frosting! I can tell it was just delicious!


  18. megan on March 30, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for that tip on the frosting first then the jam! Great tip. Good luck with the mango flavored cake, sounds delicious. Let us know how it turns out!!!


  19. Deeba on March 30, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Pretty cake Michelle. I love the idea of the cream cheese & fresh fruit. This is delicious…YUMMM!! Anne at Simply Annes did a mango version (she did 3 of these cakes); maybe you’ll get an idea for your anniv cake. Looking forward to seeing another one soon…cheers


  20. a. grace on March 30, 2008 at 10:44 am

    that’s a perfect wedge of cake if ever i’ve seen one. lovely!


  21. Shayne on March 30, 2008 at 11:10 am

    the fruit looks so pretty.


  22. Rachel@fairycakeheaven on March 30, 2008 at 11:31 am

    This looks fantastic, LOVE the oranges on top, it looks really light and fluffy inside aswell.


  23. RecipeGirl on March 30, 2008 at 11:44 am

    I had your exact frustrations of trying to spread the buttercream on top of the raspberry. It just wouldn’t spread! And if I hadn’t been making this Easter morning, I too would have frozen each layer with the raspberry first. Reversing the process would have been an easier idea. Good job on your cake!


  24. Helen on March 30, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Looks gorgeous! Can’t wait to try that frosting! Hx


  25. Melanie on March 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Your cake is beautiful! I love the raspberry “border” on the bottom…so delicious-looking!


  26. Jerry on March 30, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Love the fruit on top and the textured sides!


  27. April on March 30, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    mmm. I bet the cream cheese was awesome on this cake! It looks great!


  28. peabody on March 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Yeah, I did buttercream then jam when I did my one layer. It made no sense to me to put the jam down first. I can see how people would have had issues with that.
    I do love me some cream cheese frosting. It would be hard to chose which one to use with this cake.


  29. jbw1203 on March 30, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Beautiful job Chelle! I love how you decorated it :)


  30. Erin on March 30, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Your cake looks so delicious and beautifully decorated! I was thinking before I made this that orange would be great with this cake too, so I’ll have to try that next time!


  31. carrie on March 30, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Your cake looks soooo good with all that fresh fruit on it! Great work!


  32. Aud on March 30, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    looks delicious as always! :) p.s. the thought of mango in cake is lovely!!


  33. isabelle on March 30, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    vraiment beau !! :)


  34. Anne on March 30, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Your cake is simply lovely! Cream cheese sounds really yummy :)


  35. Julius on March 30, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    I love what you’ve done with the cake. It looks scrumptious.

    Julius from Occasional Baker


  36. Lisa on March 30, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I ended up piping on the buttercream – that seemed to work MUCH better. Lovely job :)


  37. Deborah on March 30, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I’ve never thought of orange and raspberry, but it sounds delicious! Yum!


  38. JennyBakes on March 30, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Cream cheese sounds nice, and I love the raspberry and orange!


  39. ash on March 30, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    great combination! it looks fabulous!


  40. Karen on March 30, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Beautiful cake! Cream cheese frosting is my favorite, I’m sure it was fabulous on this cake.


  41. Gigi on March 30, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    oooh. cream cheese! Yes, that was a great idea! The cake must have tasted fantastic!


  42. dhanggit on March 31, 2008 at 6:32 am

    oh my!! your cake is soo perfect!! i love all the flavors you played around on this one..i could already imagine the taste!! great job for this month’s challenge


  43. Aamena on March 31, 2008 at 7:43 am

    hey that pink inbetween looks so pretty! cool that you made changes that turned out fantastic, i will have to rty this version!


  44. KN on March 31, 2008 at 8:40 am

    LOVING the oranges and raspberries!


  45. NIna on March 31, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Another fabulous cake. Help, I can’t take it anymore……
    Your cake looks lovely and moist.


  46. ruthEbabes on March 31, 2008 at 9:34 am

    This cake works so well with fresh fruit… yours looks beautiful and elegant!


  47. smellslikehome on March 31, 2008 at 10:51 am

    beautiful job Chelley! i love how you stippled the frosting on the sides!


  48. Paula on March 31, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Your cake looks beautiful! Your layers are perfect and the orange sounds like a divine addition!


  49. mimi on March 31, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    i love the orange slices on top! your cake looks so perfect (i love the fluffy sides!)


  50. Tartelette on April 1, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Turned out perfect indeed! I froze the layers wit the jam o top so the buttercream would not mix. Try the meringue buttercream, it is like eating sweet perfect air, if that makes sense!


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