Tuesday, 1 April 2008

perfect party (cup)cake - my first 'daring bakers' challenge!

so this was my very first Daring Bakers challenge and the recipe was for the perfect party cake. the daring bakers are a group of bakers willing to challenge themselves to bake a recipe every month and post about their results on their food blogs. the group offers support and help throughout. definitely worth considering joining if you are interested in expanding your baking horizons.
so as this was my first challenge i wanted to do a good job. the recipe called for making a 'cake' but of course, me being me, wanted to make the recipe in cupcake form. wasn't sure if this would work so i really put myself to the challenge of being a true daring baker! i halved the recipe so as not to have gajillion cupcakes. initial results were interesting...the batter seemed very like my usual cupcake-type batter (there was no need for me to smooth it with a spatula) also the batter was a tad yellow for my liking. other photos i saw posted by other daring bakers showed a cake that was VERY white. i think this was due to the lemon rind. i might have added a tad too much and it turned the sugar very yellow. i'm bummed i didn't get that pristine white cake...shall definitely have to try again for that one! baked the cupcakes and took them out to cool. then removed the papers and let them cool some more. once they were cool enough. i sliced them up. this was a little tricky but definitely do-able.
then i attempted the icing. to be honest the last time i tried icing that involved egg whites, sugar and heat, it all ended a little disastrous. however, not to be deterred i began the process. things seemed to be going ok until it reached the point where i needed to beat the icing for 6-10 minutes. i was talking to my mum and then heard a strange clicking sound coming from the mixer. when i turned to look at the mixer there was smoke coming out. SERIOUS! i immediately switched it off and had to do the rest of the icing by hand. again, the final result was not a lovely pristine white buttercream icing (but then again i never seem to be able to achieve this with buttercream of any sort...could it be to do with the butter?) the icing tasted pretty lemon-y...so maybe i added too much lemon juice. but i soldiered on and iced the cupcakes and decorated them with the coconut and a fresh strawberry.
all who have tasted so far, said they really liked them (which is 4 willing candidates!) so that was good to hear. when i finished photographing, i tried the one i cut up for the photos. i cannot say it is the most delicious cake i have ever tasted and this makes me think that perhaps it wasn't made properly. i thought it was going to be really light and airy and actually it felt a little heavy and i was definitely more than satisfied with one cupcake. i think that my mixer dying in the midst of making the buttercream didn't help and mixing it by hand was quite a challenge. how intense...the first daring baker challenge challenged my mixer so much it died! now of course, i am without mixer...but the good news is that my mum just same into a little bit of money and has promised me that she is going to get me a kitchen aid...you cannot imagine the effect that the mere thought of this is having on me. i really am head over heels happy!
anyway, i am glad i gave this a go and put myself to the test. and i will definitely be looking forward to the next challenge. thanks to the daring bakers for this challenge though and the opportunity to bake outside my comfort zone!


For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
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 the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

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.

To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream.
Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake
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 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 coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.


Faery said...

my gosh you are the master of cupcakes they are wonderful

Unknown said...

hi faery - thanks for checking out my challenge...making the cake that small was really quite a delicate job!

Astra Libris said...

Oh my gosh! You made layer cupcakes! They're gorgeous!

CB said...

Adorable cupcakes as always! Welcome to DB! :)

Sarah said...

So Cute! You did a great job on your first challenge! Welcome to DB's.

Chez Us said...

I thought about doing this but did not. They are cute!!

Megan said...

I love them in cupcake form. And layered too! I was hoping my stand-up mixer would start smoking during the frosting cycle so I could justify buying a new Kitchen Aid. Maybe I should try marshmellows. :)

Unknown said...

hi astra libris - thanks, layer cupcakes was a real challenge, but worth it for the end result!

thanks clara for the welcome to DB

hi sarah, thanks, so happy to be a part of DBers!

hi chez denise - it took a lot of hard work but i got there eventually!

hi megan...yes, my poor mixer...and while i'm trying to be mournful at the loss, i'm just getting so excited at the thought of that kitchen aid!

M.T. said...

So Nice¡¡¡¡¡

Lovely cupcakes¡¡¡ Congratularions¡¡¡

Anonymous said...

Absolutely adorable! Great job!

Anonymous said...

hello..im a regular reader of your blog but never commented on it sort of like a silent admirer but when i saw this ad on martha stewart website i thought id tell.. they are holding a cutest cupcakes contest..id would be nice if you entered :D

marias23 said...

Hey airy fairy, I made cupcakes too! Haha! Great minds think alike *winks* I love the touch of fresh strwaberries on your creations!

Paula said...

Ohhh...those look yummy..great work!

T-Licious Treats said...

Awe!! They are adorable!! Great job on your first challenge, your cupcakes are too cute!!

Anonymous said...

this was my first time as a daring baker too and was so happy with this recipe. Your layered cupcakes are genius! :)

Unknown said...

hi teresa and ann, thanks for your lovely comments.

to my dear anonymous silent admirer, thank you for the link to the martha stewart competition. i've entered my easter nest cupcake because i think it's the prettiest one i've ever made. thanks for being such a constant reader!

hi maria, us cupcake addicts...what would we ever have done without them??

hi paula, thanks, they actually tasted much better today than yesterday...so i guess they really did need to set.

Unknown said...

hi jmom, congrats on completing your first challenge too! thanks for stopping by!

L said...

OMG these are so cute. I love that you turned them into cupcakes.

Helene said...

Great job on your first challenge! The cupcake idea was great and turned out perfect indeed! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Unknown said...

hi landa and tartelette - thanks so much for your lovely comments. i'm so excited to be a part of the DBers!

enza said...

cute and a very nice job I'm at the first challenge like you, please, take a look and leave a comment if you want I made some considerations.
I must exercise myself doing cupcake, I never made before...
You certainly will inspire me!
nice job.

Unknown said...

hi enza, thanks! cupcakes are lots of fun to make and are definitely cute when finished. i loved your cake. it was beautiful. isn't it great being a daring baker?

Lunch Buckets said...

Too bloomin' cute! Nice job :)

Ally said...

Those are the cutest layer cupcakes I've ever seen!

Anonymous said...

They look so light and lovely, I could easily imagine sinking my teeth into them! :)

I must get off my bottom and join this Daring baker's challenge one day, it sounds like lots of fun

Kristen said...

Your cupcakes look beautiful! I love the strawberries on top. Sorry about your mixer, but hopefully now you'll get that new kitchenaid!

marae said...

those look so cute!!! i love how you turned the cake idea into cupcakes!

Big Boys Oven said...

oh there are so so so cute and iresistable!

Unknown said...

thanks everyone for your fantastic comments! i'm so loving all this support and love from the daring bakers :) you guys rock!!!!!

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... said...

Congrads on your first challenge. Your cake looks great.. love the decorating style.

Amy J. said...

They're adorable! Great job!

And rejoicing over the untimely demise of your mixer...if it means you get a KitchenAid - gah!

Anonymous said...

Nice work! I'm a first timer, too. It's fun to see all the other DB posts, isn't it?

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

I think you did a great job! They just scream spring to me.

Gretchen Noelle said...

What fun that you made an adorable cup-cake for your DB cake! Welcome!

Gabi said...

They are just so completely adorable- Perfect job! Welcome to the DBs!

Anonymous said...

these are beautiful cupcakes!