Buttercream and Party Cakes

You can lick the spoon

Among the world of bloggers are an amazing group, consisting of over 600 to date, who once a month conspire about one recipe challenge, chosen by a different member each time. The monthly challenge remains a secret until the last day of the month, when everyone blogs about their results; a kind of gang-blog. These are not your run-of-the-mill bakers, friends. They are the Daring Bakers, and for some reason I thought it would be fun to join up. What was I thinking? I should have been thinking that I was out of my league.

I am not a fancy-pancy cake decorator. I think I’d rather pick nits off a monkey’s back than to obsess over making intricate flowers made out of sugar or enrobing a cake in fondant. It’s just not my thing. After looking at some of my blogging friend’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous creations, I became comfortable with the realization that I am a peasant cook at heart. When I bake, I always gravitate toward the simple and rustic, like free-form tarts and cakes baked in loaf pans.

This month, the recipe was chosen by Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts; Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s fantastic book, Baking, From My Home to Yours. I enjoy Dorie’s recipes because they aren’t too fussy and she obviously writes them after lots of testing. In fact one of my all-time favorites is Dorie’s Lemon Yogurt Cake (baked in a loaf pan!).

The party cake is a fairly simple recipe, and I can see why it should become a stand-by recipe. Plus, I have a weakness for any cake made with buttermilk and lemon. I love the tangy moist texture of this cake, and would make this again just smeared with some jam, lemon curd and powdered sugar.

However, the highlight in my house was the luscious meringue buttercream. I can’t remember the last time I smeared a cake – or anything, for that matter – with a substance containing three whole sticks of butter, multiple cups of sugar and fluffy marshmallow-like beaten egg whites. This stuff should be classified as a dangerous substance by the DEA. My kids were content to lick the beaters and spatula (and I was too, just in case you were wondering), to the point that there was barely enough left to frost the darn cake.

Now that I think about it, that seems like a perfect arrangement. Piece of cake, scoop of buttercream on the side.



  1. Oh I love the look of your cake. And that first picture. Even thought I really don’t like buttercream, it looks so tempting.

  2. Sara<3 says:

    I know how you feel! I’ve never made a buttercream before either and was a little bit shocked at all of the butter and sugar and whatnot, but hey, they don’t call it a buttercream for nothing! Your final product looks fantastic.

  3. I know how you feel! I’ve never made a buttercream before either and was a little bit shocked at all of the butter and sugar and whatnot, but hey, they don’t call it a buttercream for nothing! Your final product looks fantastic.

  4. I don’t obsess over decorating cakes either, if they are yummy they are going to end up inside my tummy. :-p

    I did lick the spoon when I was making my buttercream, I ended up with a lot of guilty feelings, haha.

  5. Gretchen Noelle says:

    You don’t have to be a fancy decorator to make a delicious cake. You did a great job! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

  6. I LOVE buttercream frosting. Too much probably.

  7. That looks great – and wonderful photos 🙂

  8. Fanny, I know. I didn’t think I liked buttercream, either. But I was mistaken!

    Sara, it was fun to make…and dangerously delicious.

    Ben, isn’t it funny how sweet licks from the spoon bring out the naughty kid in us?

    Thanks, Gretchen. I’m already looking forward to the next one. Who knows, maybe I’ll start spinning flowers out of sugar…

    Liza, yes, I know what you mean.

    Thanks, Anne!

  9. I love the picture of the buttercream, gorgeous! Your cakes rose so much, what’s your secret? Love the cake!

  10. Bellini Valli says:

    You did an excellent job with your cake Karen!! Like you I am a bit of a hesitant baker..I almost skipped this challenge altogether being cake heavy this month with Easter and all…but in the end I am glad that I tried it:D

  11. Proud Italian Cook says:

    I’m a free form kind of girl like you, I must say it’s a challenge for me to actually follow a recipe! But aren’t you glad how it turned out? You did a great job Karen!

  12. culinography says:

    Looks great! 🙂

  13. bakingblonde says:

    That buttercream looks PERFECT!! I don’t even like frosting but would love a big taste of that!
    Your blog is awesome!!

  14. Lovely!

    I think I’m like you- I don’t really enjoy decorating cakes that much. If I can do it fairly fast, then I’m ok, but anything intricate is impossible.

  15. Fabulous first photo! I love your honest and easy approach to this cake. Well done!

  16. A dangerous substance by the DEA, that’s funny.
    Your cake looks lovely! You did a great job!

  17. Your cake turned out beautifully!

  18. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Oh good grief: Piece of cake, scoop of buttercream on the side. What a picture you paint. I’m not a fancy decorate your cake kind either. I think the beauty of this cake is it’s simple goodness. It really doesn’t need fancy (I know some did) it’s so very good without.
    Yours is a beautiful cake Karen.

  19. Catherine Wilkinson says:

    Deocrating cakes in my house is pretty pitiful. Usually, I’m licking the spoon and eating the candy decorations. This cake is lovely and perfect and I say, let’s just eat the buttercream!

  20. Stella (Sweet Temptations) says:

    Though I love pretty party cakes, I’m like you! I can’t be bothered to put so much effort in decorating my cake & to see it gone in less 2seconds!

    Your cake is as perfect!

  21. Karen,
    Your cake looks beautiful! I was thinking the same thing when I joined, I am sooo not a baker! Fun to give it a whirl at least! Nice job!

  22. Oh, I don’t care about the butter…I would lick that spatula happily! Its not like we do it everyday 🙂

  23. Your cake looks good. I really enjoyed the buttercream as well.

  24. marias23 says:

    I agree with you it’s a dangerous substance! That and ice cream and chocolates! 🙂

  25. I loved the buttercream!!! It was the best. I screwed it up in the dec. challange and had no idea what I missed. Its now my favorite frosting.

  26. I love the cake itself minus all the other components 🙂 Yours came out soft and fluffy! Your pictures are awesome 🙂

  27. Sweet and Savory Eats says:

    Out of your league? I think not. Your cake looks perfect.

  28. Peasant cook or not, your cake looks great! I especially like that first picture of the spatula. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

  29. Grace Freedman says:

    I love the look of your cake too, not fussy, yummy-looking and perfect for a family dinner. Anne’s cakes are truly beautiful, but really that’s too high a standard for most home cooks (which I am, and I guess I’m a “rustic” baker” too.) Stumbled on your blog because I write about family dinner…Love your blog!

  30. Cool picture with the fork! Great job.

  31. I hear you on the whole icing thing, I to love that rustic simple approach but wasn’t this cake fun to make gotta love Dorie. Your cake looks yummy

  32. Susan from Food Blogga says:

    I’m more into cooking than baking (though you probably knew that). Though blogging has gotten me more adventurous in the baking arena. I think your cake looks great, Karen!

  33. Oh you know what… I really do want to lick that spoon! Mmmmmmmm!

  34. maine626 says:

    we haven’t heard from ms. karen in a long time so i’m thinking she either o-dosed on tangerine martini’s OR her cake. hmmm??? where are you karen???

  35. For someone who doesn’t like to decorate cakes, I think that yours looks beautiful and delicious! I personally agree- I’d rather just spread some of the frosting flavor on as I eat.

    I’ve tagged you for a little game, Six Word Memoir. If you feel like playing, check out my post:

  36. I think your cake looks adorable. It maybe a dangerous frosting but I like a little danger now and then. You have inpired me to bake a cake.

  37. Wow, that first photo of the buttercream is a thing of beauty. Great job!

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