You know, I’m not the most obedient Tuesdays with Dorie baker. Sometimes I take liberties with an ingredient (or two, or three…) and I don’t always stay true to the recipes. But I like to think I have my priorities in order, and I follow the instructions when they’re absolutely necessary.
So when Dorie ordered us to have a party to go with this Perfect Party Cake, by golly, I had a party.
Okay, so she may not have demanded the party, so much as suggested that this is a good party cake. And I may not have had a party so much as a mini partylet. But still. An excuse to hang out with friends and eat lemon-strawberry cake? A fine recipe indeed!
You know what was not fine about this recipe? The combination of soft buttercream, slippery jam, and sweltering midday heat. I don’t usually have issues with layer cakes, but this one gave me fits–it kept shifting and sprouting jam leaks from the sides. I went from having a tidy cake to a leaning tower of Pisa to a Sissy-Spacek-in-Carrie-when-she’s-covered-in-blood monstrosity in about two minutes. Which wouldn’t have been the end of the world, except I had the partylet planned for that evening, and kind of needed a party cake to go with it.
After much chilling, straightening, spackling with buttercream, and voodoo, I had an approximation of a straight layer cake…as long as no one looked at it wrong or breathed near it. And of course, once it was cut into, it started its slow slide into entropy once more. But at least it (moderately) held its shape until then.
As for the cake itself, I thought it was good. I liked how well it came together, and it was very easy to cut and layer. The buttercream had too much butter for my taste, and not enough sugar or lemon flavor. My biggest problem was the (cheap, supermarket brand) jam. It was way too sweet and didn’t have enough strawberry flavor, and as I mentioned above, it was too loose and didn’t work well as a filling. I topped the cake with lemon curd and fresh strawberries, which helped add some flavor and some tartness, but in the end it was just a little too sweet for me, without enough fresh berry taste.
I think the basic cake recipe is good, and I would make it again, but I would either add fresh berries and omit the jam, or make jam from scratch so that I could control the texture and sweetness. So for me, I guess I would have to say it was a not-quite-perfect party cake, but it still made for a great evening. Party on, Wayne.