Another month, another Daring Bakers challenge. This month’s challenge was cake and, due to a hectic work schedule and then vacation (woo-hoo!) it came down to the wire for me this month and I baked this up at the last minute, unfortunately with no real reason for having a cake on hand. That means that Dan and I are currently staring at a very large party cake with equal parts delight and trepidation … just how is all of that cake going to get eaten? Tomorrow I will have to make the rounds and share some cake with the neighbors.
I had to make some adaptations to the recipe to make it vegan. For the cake I replaced buttermilk (with soymilk and cider vinegar), egg whites (with soy yogurt), and butter (with Earth Balance). The icing was a whole other challenge altogether: a merengue buttercream frosting. Oh my. The one thing I have not yet figured out how to veganize is merengue. Instead of spending hours pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to replicate merengue, I made a lemon buttercream frosting, toasted some coconut and macadamia nuts (becuase I live in Hawaii and have lots of them in the kitchen), and smothered the cake in the toasty goodness.
Overall, this is a very good cake. Dan immediately had a second slice, which is always a good sign as cakes can sometimes prove to be too overwhelmingly sweet for him. The taste is quite good ( I went with the recommended lemon cake and raspberry jam flavor combination), the texture is nice on the tongue, it slices well, and it is very pretty to look at. I would be interested in playing around with different flavor combinations as this cake lends itself well to improvisation. Maybe lime and coconut? Chocolate and raspberry? Chocolate and Grand Marnier? Vanilla and Kahlua? Vanilla and lilikoi? I could go on and on and on …
Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups vanilla soymilk + 1 tbsp cider vinegar
½ cup vanilla soy yogurt (or use lemon soy yogurt for a more intense lemon flavor)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
8 tbsp Earth Blance, at room temperature
1 tsp lemon juice
5 cups powdered sugar
½ cup Earth Balance
½ cup shortening (I use Spectrum brand)
3 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
1 ½ cups flaked coconut, toasted (to toast: place coconut in skillet over medium heat and toast for 3-5 minutes, being sure to keep the coconut moving so that it does not burn)
½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted (to toast, repeat process used for toasting the coconut)
To Make the Cake:
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans.
2. Mix the cider vinegar with the soymilk and set aside.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Whisk together the soymilk mixture and soy yogurt in a medium bowl.
5. 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 Earth Balance and, using a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the EB and sugar are very light. Beat in the lemon juice.
6. Add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the soymilk mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the soymilk mixture beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
7. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
8. 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, and turn them out onto the rack to cool.
To Make the Buttercream:
Beat together the EB and shortening until well mixed, light and fluffy. Then slowly add the powdered sugar and continue beating to mix well. Add the lemon juice and, finally, beat on medium speed for 5 minutes.
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 your cake stand or plate. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the mac nuts into the center of the cake. Press the coconut into the frosting around the nuts, patting it gently all over the sides and top.