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.