Why all the parenthetical modifications in the title? Well, thanks to Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts, this month's Daring Bakers Challenge - Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake - came with an added bonus: abundant creative license! A layer cake it should be, with Dorie's famous recipe - and our own special touches. If you read my post for last month's Daring Baker's challenge - also my first - in which I hyper-enthusiastically carried rising bread dough about the house to show Zach (my boyfriend, with whom I share a house and 3 cats), you can probably imagine the various ways in which I expressed my delight over this month's challange. Yes, I squeaked with excitement, ran upstairs in search of my cell phone, ran back downstairs again, actually found the phone, called my college roomie Lisa, told her about how thrilled I was, and then proceeded to dream about the cake at inopportune moments at work for an entire week.
I was especially ecstatic that the challenge coincided beautifully with both Easter and Zach's return home from a week's trip visiting his parents and brothers (I was remained at home with school and work, but that also meant I got to bake the cake, so I was content!). Since it was just the two of us having a cozy Easter dinner and welcome home celebration, I decided on a petite version of a whole huge layer cake - layered tea cakes!
I halved the recipe, and used only one pan instead of two... The single layer of cake emerged delightfully golden and light as vanilla cotton candy. (As a side note, since lemon and vanilla are both delicious, why should one have to choose? :-) I kept the perfectly piquent lemon flavor of the lemon zest, and replaced the lemon extract with a doubled amount of vanilla extract. They melded perfectly...)
Then I used a biscuit cutter to cut four cake circles... and stacked them into the tallest two tea cakes I'd ever seen! Since the use of only egg whites in the cake seemed to lend itself beautifully to a lighter dessert, I decided to use extra all-fruit strawberry jam on top of the tea cakes instead of icing... and I dyed some raw flaked coconut green to look like "Easter basket grass," gaily topping and surrounding the cakes with pastoral abundance.
Zach added the final touch, with a smile of whipped cream!
With regards to the actual recipe, I was thoroughly grateful to Morven for her notes on adapting individual ingredients slightly in accordence with what's actually residing in the recipe... Hence, I used raw sugar instead of regular white sugar, light vegan margerine instead of butter (sounds scandalous, I know, but I'm still fond of my vegan days and continue baking vegan desserts quite frequently! I did keep the eggs in the cake, but, as mentioned earlier, was quite fond of how well the egg whites pared with the vegan marg to create a light yet still decadent-flavored cake. Despite the recipe's request for whole milk I did gamble and use low-fat 2% milk, and, well, the cake was still every bit as scrumptious as we could have wished! Thank you, Morven, for a challange that added a wealth of deliciousness to my quest for healthy(er) desserts!
Here, then, is my version of the recipe... (using half the quantities of the original recipe, which made two tea cakes - use the regular recipe for more tea cakes, because one can never have too many tea cakes around to bestow tea cake joy upon all!)
My Pantry's Adaptation of Dorie's Perfect Party Cake
1 1/8 cups flour, 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 10 T low fat milk, 2 egg whites, 3/4 cups raw sugar, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1/4 cup light vegan margarine (at room temperature), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup all-fruit strawberry jam, 1/2 cup raw flaked coconut (tossed with 3 drops green food coloring and 1/2 tsp water), whipped cream
~ Coat an 8X8 baking pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 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 vegan margarine and beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the marg and sugar are very light. Beat in the vanilla, 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. Pour the batter into the pan and smoothe the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (mine took 40 minutes), or until the cake is springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cake and unmold. Once the cake has cooled, use a biscuit cutter to cut 4 circles out of the cake. Spread 1/8 cup strawberry jam on top of each quarter, than stack two of the quarters to make two tea cake towers, with jam between the layers and on top of the top layer. Generously sprinkle the top layer of each cake with the coconut, and surround the cakes with the remaining coconut. Top the cakes with whipped cream, and serve right away!
The result was divine - light, airy, springy, lemony, fruity, tender, and meltingly moist... and the rest of the Daring Bakers Blogroll is equally tempting!