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
For the Cake:
- 2 ¼ cups (281.25 g) cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) salt
- 1 ¼ cups (305 ml) whole milk or buttermilk
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces )
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) pure lemon extract
- ⅔ cup (157.73 g) seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
- 1 ½ cups (135 g) sweetened shredded coconut
For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 12 ounces (340.2 g) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup (227 g) butter
- 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
- 8 cups (960 g) 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.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
I made this cake using lemon, and finishing it with coconut. It was delicious.
How long to bake if using a 9×13 pan?
I see coconut listed in the ingredients but I don’t see where it is used. Could you clarify that?
Hi Sue, I omitted it from the version that I created.
Hi Michelle, This recipe looks amazing and I’m looking forward to trying it. Some have said their cake didn’t rise. I’ve read that cake recipes with acid, such as buttermilk, require baking soda. Obviously, this one seems to work for most people with baking powder only but I wonder if you could explain when baking soda is necessary. Thanks!
Hi Peter, When thinking about leavening agents and acidic ingredients, it’s actually the baking soda that requires an acidic ingredient to activate it, not vice versa. However, you can use baking powder along with an acidic ingredient (and baking powder actually contains baking soda!).
Hi just made your honey cake and it turned out very well !!! Thanks a lot …..for the party cake above my question is how much to whisk the milk and egg whites together ? Won’t they remain frothy and not beat to peaks ? In the past I have always incorporated stiff egg whites into a batter which aerates it ….please confirm as a lot of readers seem to have a problem with the cake rising and I’m not sure if it is due to a lack of aeration….thanks !
Yes, they will just be frothy, you are not whisking them to stiff peaks here.
First the cake is delicious, you do no need 2 9 inch pans, my batter I used 1. That would have been a disaster if 2 were used.
I have been trying to find the perfect light white cake for months. I made this one for my sons first communion cake. It was awesome. We had about 40 guests and all of them told me how good it was.i doubled the recipe and made a huge double half sheet cake cut into a cross shape. It cut nicely and don’t crumble on me. I did leave out the lemon flavoring and made it just as a white cake. Thank you so much. My first big party cake was a success.
I have a question: Do you add the coconut to the preserves as you are heating the preserves or after. Or do you sprinkle the coconut on top of the preserves? Maybe I am missing something?
Hi Catherine, I apologize for the confusion. You press the coconut on the outside of the cake after it is frosted.
I just finished making it for my daughter’s birthday party! I’m not sure what it tastes like yet, but it looks great! For the raspberry preserves and the frosting, I put the preserves on first and then before I put the other one on I covered it with frosting so that I don’t have to deal with spreading them on top of each other.
What about the shredded coconut? It’s listed in the ingredients list but I don’t see how is used in the recipe
It is for finishing sprinkle it on top after frosting like a coconut cake
This cake is delicious. If you change the lemon to banana flavor. And the jelly perserves to a brown sugar buttercream even better.
I just made this cake at sea level following the recipe closely. My cake was dense like a bisquit and bland with a too sweet frosting and way too much extra frosting. I didn’t leave anything out. I sifted. I put a jar of lemon curd in the center. Big waste. Annoyed.
Hi Michelle, I made this cake yesterday and it was a big hit even though I noticed it did not rise. I was wondering what Is the texture of the cake supposed to be like? Mine was similar to a pound cake texture. Dense but moist. Thanks for posting such wonderful recipes!
Hi Leah, Yes, it is a denser cake. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Well I baked the cake and it’s in the freezer as I write. I have a question, where in the world does the coconut go? Is it supposed to be mixed with the raspberry perserves. I’m confused??? Thank you for some awesome recipes.
Hi Lisa, So sorry about that; you can press it onto the outside of the cake.
I love this recipe. Is the coconut just mixed in with the raspberry preserves?
Hi Tony, You could do that, or press the coconut around the outside.
I made this yesterday for my son’s birthday…with a few changes for his taste: I used orange extract and zest instead of lemon and used a plain vanilla buttercream. It was fabulous! This was my first white cake and had I read all the stories of how dense and lifeless white cakes can be. This was none of that. Moist, flavorful, a definite keeper! Thanks for another great recipe. You have become my go to site for all things yummy!
Made this cake yesterday and was an absolute hit! Followed the recipe to the T but wasn’t sure about the raspberry jam part so I mixed it with the coconut, still delicious. Any way to make the same amount of frosting with maybe 2 cups less powdered sugar and still get the consistency?
Hi Cindy, Unfortunately, you can’t reduce the powdered sugar by 2 cups and get the same consistency – the frosting will be pretty thin.
I made this cake and I really liked it. The serving at room temperature is important because it really allows the flavors to come through. However, the frosting recipe could be cut by a third and the two teaspoons of orange juice really didn’t come through in the taste. I cut the cakes with the suggestion of dental floss and it worked perfectly. I spread the frosting first, then the jam and followed with the coconut. I would make this cake again. I’d use the lemon in the frosting the next time.
I made this cake, it’s perfect . This is one recipe to keep!!! Thanks for sharing!
A yummy cake, but mine did not rise. I used the whisk attachment on my KitchenAid as suggested but it was still flat. Or may be there wasn’t enough batter? When I divided the batter between (2) 9″, it just didn’t seem to be enough. Also the sweetened coconut, there was no instruction for it. Is it supposed to go inside the cake with the preserves or on the frosting on the outside?
This looks amazing, but what did you do with the coconut?? I see it in the ingredients list, but I can’t see any direction for it. Did you omit it?
I’m planning to make this cake along with your chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow filling & malted chocolate frosting for my fiance’s big birthday bash this Saturday!
Well, I made this cake without the coconut since I don’t particularly like coconut anyway. I also didn’t use this exact cake recipe for the lemon cake… I didn’t want to buy lemon extract, so I used lemon juice & lemon zest instead like I do for my own lemon cake recipe. Worked wonderfully!
Since I do like lemon, I probably wouldn’t do the orange cream cheese frosting next time. I’d do my normal lemon cream cheese frosting. I did love the raspberry preserves in the middle! Yumm. :)
Looks beautiful! Could you use just the cake recipe for cupcakes?
Hi Mic, I have not made this recipe into cupcakes, but I think it’s definitely worth a try! Enjoy!
Unfortunately, I HATE cream cheese but I would really love to make this cake for a birthday! Are there any other icings except for the meringue that you think would work well? Thank you!
Hi Hannah, Definitely! You could certainly just use a basic vanilla buttercream: https://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/10/28/vanilla-cupcakes-vanilla-buttercream-frosting/
Could you use this cake for a 3-4 tiered wedding cake? This sounds awesome but I want to make sure it’s stiff enough to hold up to 3-4 tiers.
Hi LaDawnia, I’ve never made a cake that large, and I know there are different methods for tiering, so I couldn’t safely say yes for sure. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help! Maybe do a practice cake to check out the texture and see if you think it will work?
That cake looks amazing!!
Hmmmm, debating about trying it for my daughter’s first birthday on Friday. I can’t decide if I dare try a new recipe, or just go with an old stand-by (aka chocolate cake mix). The party colors are orange and purple….so I was gonna switch the raspberry to blackberry…what do you think?
Also, do you know if cream cheese frosting can be frozen without goofing up the consistency? Just in case I do it ahead of time.
Hi Erica, You could definitely switch up the fruits, that’s one of the best things about recipes like this! I would not, however, freeze the icing. You could refrigerate it for up to 2 days, but you’ll need to re-whip it before you use it.
Thanks for the info, Michelle!
I made the cake today. It took a long time to do because I’ve never made a cake like this….I’ve never even separated egg whites before….yep, Newbie!
Some people commented that theirs didn’t rise. I think mine did…but it’s certainly not a tall cake…so I’m not sure it rose as much as it should have. After slicing them horizontally, I think each layer will only be about a 1/2 to maybe 3/4 inch thick. Does that sound right?
Do you have any tricks for the horizontal slicing? What’s the best way to keep it even all the way across?
The unfrosted cake is in the freezer until Friday. I can’t wait to try it! The house smelled soooo good while it was baking!
Hi Erica, For horizontal slicing, I rely on a Wilton cake leveler – it’s such a time saver and takes all the guess work out of it! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004S7YB/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=broeyebak-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00004S7YB
Awesome, thank you! I just ordered it. Only $5 sounds totally worth it! Thanks so much for all your help!! :)
can we substitute lemon or orange extract with lemon or orange juice? Im from pakistan and the extracts we get here have a weird taste to them and dont taste good at all.
Yes, you could do that! The flavors might not be as strong as an extract, but they will still come through.
Would this recipe work for cupcakes? I’ve been doing so research re white cakes, and none of them seem to work very well for cupcakes! Thanks.
… sorry …
Hi Jennifer, I have never tried to make this into cupcakes, however I do have a favorite white cupcake: https://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/10/28/vanilla-cupcakes-vanilla-buttercream-frosting/
this looks so yummy! how many would this feed? i need something big enough for about 20 people. thanks!
Hi Sophie, I would estimate that this serves 10-12, obviously depending on how large you make the slices.
i think you could spread jam on the top of a layer, and frost the bottom of another layer and stack them on top of each other and so on for each layer
A great way to frost on top of a slippery filling is to pipe the frosting on in a spiral. You can then try and touch it up with a knife if you want, but if you piped smoothly, you can simply set the next cake layer on top of it and it will be perfect.
I think I found my Easter dessert recipe! Perfection!
This recipes looks amazing! I’m gonna try it out for my dad’s birthday this weekend….tehehe. How long did this take you?
A great way to get the frosting on top of the jam is to pipe in on in a spiral, that way you aren’t trying to spread it with a knife, it’s more like you’re just laying it down on top. Pipe a thin band of frosting around the top of the outer rim of the layer before you spread in the jam, then add the jam, then top with the piped frosting.
I made this for Valentine’s Day today :) I have seen it on many many blogs but loved your cream cheese frosting idea because it’s our favorite. I had a problem that I just saw other people have had- the cake didn’t rise! it is very dense and I am a bit sad about that.. I made cake flour with corn starch and ap flour but read other’s had more success with regular ap and wish I had noticed that before. I used lemon because it’s what I had and for the frosting did 12 oz cream cheese, 1 stick butter, 1/4-1/3 cup lemon curd and then about 3 cups powdered sugar. Folded in the curd after the frosting was made, then folded in 1-2 cups whipped cream to make it lighter. This frosting is amazing. I topped it with fresh berries.
your cake totally looks perfect! the raspberry filling looks delicious
Chelle….this cake looks DELICIOUS!….and I am sure it tasted just as good.
I agere, this is a great cake base to use to come up with other delicious flavour creations! Cream cheese icing sounds like it would be delicious with this cake too.
Your cake looks beautiful! I had the same problems with the frosting sliding around on top of the jam. Next time I make this cake–and there will be a next time–I’m going to just use jam in between the layers and use the extra frosting for decorating the outside.
You did a wonderful job on your cake the decorating.
Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go
So pretty! I love the smoothness on top and slightly spikeyness around the edges!
This will most definitely be a recipe to use time and time again- GREAT JOB!!
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!
i love the orange slices on top! your cake looks so perfect (i love the fluffy sides!)
Your cake looks beautiful! Your layers are perfect and the orange sounds like a divine addition!
beautiful job Chelley! i love how you stippled the frosting on the sides!
This cake works so well with fresh fruit… yours looks beautiful and elegant!
Another fabulous cake. Help, I can’t take it anymore……
Your cake looks lovely and moist.
hey that pink inbetween looks so pretty! cool that you made changes that turned out fantastic, i will have to rty this version!
LOVING the oranges and raspberries!
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
Beautiful cake! Cream cheese frosting is my favorite, I’m sure it was fabulous on this cake.
oooh. cream cheese! Yes, that was a great idea! The cake must have tasted fantastic!
great combination! it looks fabulous!
Cream cheese sounds nice, and I love the raspberry and orange!
I ended up piping on the buttercream – that seemed to work MUCH better. Lovely job :)
Thanks for stopping by my blog.
I love what you’ve done with the cake. It looks scrumptious.
Julius from Occasional Baker
Your cake is simply lovely! Cream cheese sounds really yummy :)
vraiment beau !! :)
I’ve never thought of orange and raspberry, but it sounds delicious! Yum!
looks delicious as always! :) p.s. the thought of mango in cake is lovely!!
Your cake looks soooo good with all that fresh fruit on it! Great work!
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!
Beautiful job Chelle! I love how you decorated it :)
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.
mmm. I bet the cream cheese was awesome on this cake! It looks great!
Love the fruit on top and the textured sides!
Your cake is beautiful! I love the raspberry “border” on the bottom…so delicious-looking!
Looks gorgeous! Can’t wait to try that frosting! Hx
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!
This looks fantastic, LOVE the oranges on top, it looks really light and fluffy inside aswell.
the fruit looks so pretty.
that’s a perfect wedge of cake if ever i’ve seen one. lovely!
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!!!
Good call on the cream cheese frosting! I can tell it was just delicious!
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!
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
Your cake looks awesome! I went with a whipped cream/cream cheese frosting instead of the buttercream and was happy with it. Great job!
Gorgeous Dah-ling! Its stunning! Cant wait to see the mango variation too.
A very pretty cake. Beautiful use of fresh fruit on top.
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!
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!
Orange sounds wonderful! Mine was slippery too, so I put the frosting in the fridge for a bit. Great job!
Your cake looks gorgeous – I want a piece.
Glad you enjoyed the challenge.
Smooth icing! Great job.
Perfect party cake fo sho! I love the raspberry and orange. Looks fabulous. I lurve cream cheese frosting… Mmmm..
Well at least it doesn’t look like you had problems with the raspberry filling. Looks great!
I like how you used a cream cheese frosting with this, This cake is so adaptable!
It looks picture perfect (and perfectly orangey)! Congrats. :)
your cake looks beautiful glad you liked it so much!
I like how you decorated your cake- It looks great!