There’s just something in particular about layer cakes that I’m drawn to. The striated wedges that reveal neat rows of a myriad of fillings, flavors, and textures, just cutting into them is a suspenseful drama that you can’t look away from. Elaborate and beautiful any way you slice it, it’s no surprise that you’re most likely to find one of these striped confections at birthdays and celebrations. Thanks to Morven who chose this Daring Baker Challenge, it became a requirement to find something to celebrate this month- And truly, I was happy to have any excuse!
We were assigned to tackle Dorie Greenspan’s “Perfect Party Cake,” to be exact, but there were many more allowances for creativity than most challenges. Any flavors could be used to please the baker’s palate, any filling, any decoration, and either a buttercream frosting or simply whipped cream; Basically, we were pretty much set loose for this one.
Happily, the biggest obstacle that I faced was figuring about what occasion to celebrate with this fantastic cake. Since my grandma was due to return home after a winter in Hawaii mid-month, that seemed that the perfect opportunity, so I took that idea and ran with it. Soon enough, I had concocted an intricate scheme to incorporate tropical flavors in a decadent, over-the-top, but completely approachable sort of way.
It all started with a lightly pineapple-flavored cake, by way of replacing most of the liquid with pineapple juice, and then since I had drained off a can of pineapple chunks to get the juice, I tossed the solids into a pot and made a quick jam. On top of that, I spread a thin layer of lemon curd (same recipe from my book again), and then repeated the sequence until I ran out of cake. Seizing my “get out of jail free” card with the buttercream, I went the easier route of making a whipped coconut creme, which I gelled with just a touch of agar so that it would melt at room temperature. After my most recent shopping spree in NYC, I had lots of shiny dragees to play around with, so naturally they topped off the stack.
Finally, a challenge that turned out exactly as I had intended! The layers could have been a bit better defined I suppose, but there’s always room for improvement, right? But more importantly, my grandmother seemed to genuinely enjoy it (I hope!) and it was met with rave reviews from everyone else who managed to snag a piece as well. Seriously, I was floored at how enthusiastic the assessments were, and it seems as though there is considerable demand for the recipe as well! Perhaps I’ll make this same assemblage again, but with a slightly different structure to get those clear-cut layers I crave… Who knows, you may just see this one again soon.