Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake – Recipe

PERFECT PARTY CAKE
Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250).

Words from Dorie
Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.

For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 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 until spreadable
About 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

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 (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

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
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. 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.

Serving
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

Storing
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

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26 Responses to “Vanilla Peach Bourbon Jam”

  1. #
    1
    thecookingnurse — August 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    What a neat exchange! Your jam flavor sound delish!

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    stephchows — August 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    oh YUMMMM!!! I love the color!! Peach with vanilla… I think I need to go peach picking this weekend 🙂 As for your Q I’ll answer it here and on my blog. The reason there is no pectin is because raspberries naturally have a very high level of it in them, when I make my raspberry jam (posted yesterday) I only use raspberries and sugar, that’s it! And it gels up without any problem 🙂 As for processing, I say jar it up and boil the jars for 10 minutes and then let them cool overnight like normal. Can’t wait to hear how it tastes!

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    3
    Jen — August 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    That makes sense about the raspberries having pectin in them. Thanks for the help for a jam newbie!

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    Danielle Hawes — August 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Ohhh I want to make this!!

  5. #
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    nutmegnanny — August 7, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    What a yummy jam! I bet it taste amazing:)

  6. #
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    Kevin — August 8, 2009 at 12:48 am

    I really like the sound of a peach jam with vanilla bean and bourbon!

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    Jessica Segarra — August 10, 2009 at 2:56 am

    One day soon I really really want to make my own Jam! Yours looks fabulous!

  8. #
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    Kerstin — August 11, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Wow, what an amazing flavor combo, I’m completely impressed you made your own jam – it looks fabulous!

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    Anna — August 20, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you for the inspiration, it came out yummy!

  10. #
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    Christine — September 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Hello Jen! I found this blog in Foodista and followed it here. This is a actually cool Vanilla Peach Bourbon Jam recipe. Keep it up and I may see you on Food Network one day. By the way, did you know you can place more Foodista widget? A friend of mine placed proper Foodista widget at the end of her latest blogs and the numbers of her readers increased. Interesting isn’t it?

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    Squeaky — October 3, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    It’s too late for peaches (I made a batch of this with peaches, and wanted to make a second, but I waited too long), so I tried asian pears. It’s a little boozier tasting, but delicious!

  12. #
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    Dave — July 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Just made this with some fantastic peaches. Wow, winning recipe.

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    Amy — June 11, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    I made this jam last summer. My family has been begging for more. This is their all time favorite jam that I made. Can’t wait till the peaches are ripe to mix up a few batches. Thank you!!!

    • beantownbaker — June 11th, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe. I make this jam every year when peaches are in season.

  14. #
    14
    Aurora — August 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Just made this, and OMG is it good!! I used southern comfort, and scraped the seeds out of my vanilla bean into the jam. One of the best jams I have ever made! Thanks for the recipe! I put the used vanilla bean into 8oz of southern comfort, might be good in a couple of weeks! Just cant bear to throw away the rest of the vanilla bean.

    • beantownbaker — August 6th, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

      So glad you enjoyed this! It’s one of my favorite jam recipes ever.

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    15
    Denise — August 28, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Hi! Can’t wait to try this jam! Is there a reason you used low-sugar pectin instead of regular?

    • beantownbaker — August 28th, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

      That’s what the recipe called for. In general, when it comes to pectin, I follow the recipe and don’t deviate from what it says…

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    Gatorman — October 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    This recipe sounds great! I have to go out for a liquor run tomorrow(Son getting married) and peaches are still in the stores. I was looking for a good(and different) peach jam recipe. Thanks!

    • beantownbaker — October 29th, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

      This is one of my favorite jam recipes. I make it every year at the end of summer while peaches are really ripe here in the midwest!

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    Brighid45 — July 6, 2014 at 8:17 am

    This is a fantastic recipe! Made it last year and the first batch disappeared so fast, two more got made right away 🙂 I’m just about to start on this year’s first batch. My only suggestion would be this: if you’re using a stockpot for canning the half-pints/pints and not a water-bath canner, put some butter knives on the bottom of the pot so the jars don’t make direct contact with the floor. The knives act in the same way as a rack does, to reduce the chance that a jar might crack or even break.

    • beantownbaker — September 2nd, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

      Great tip. Thanks!

  18. #
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    FancyApril — August 21, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I made this last night, the best peach jam I have ever tasted. I brought a small jar to work and everyone has fallen in love!

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    Linda Riccardo Henderson — June 17, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I don’t drink but would love to try recipe, someone promised to share bourbon for recipe and at the last minute gave me Jim beam whisky instead. I reviewed how the spirits are made…thoughts about the substitution. Thank you love your site

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    Scott Anderson — October 5, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Jim Beam would be fine – it’s a nuance, not a strong “flavor”. This is an amazing jam that won’t disappoint…

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    Dawn — July 9, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Wow! Just made this jam, & it is amazing. Will definitely be making this yearly.

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