An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Four Layers to Celebrate


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.

Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

95 thoughts on “Four Layers to Celebrate

  1. Very lovely cake! I like that you did a pineapple version. What a great idea!

  2. It looks absolutely divine, and I bet pineapple was just wonderful!

  3. Ooooh, coconut and pineapple? Sounds wonderful. Looks wonderful. The only not wonderful part is I don’t have any. :(

  4. It’s a beautiful cake! the pineapple and lemon sound superb.

  5. Oh wow, I have never seen a more gorgeous cake. I’m dying to try the pineapple and coconut! Yum!

  6. This looks wonderful! The flavor combination sounds divine. And when will you be sending some of this to my neck of the woods? :)

  7. the layers look perfect to me! and coconut-lemon-pineapple… be still my heart!

  8. I just love the toasted coconut on the outside! Beautiful cake!

  9. Your desserts are always so beautiful. Just commenting to say that I really enjoy your blog :)

  10. this looks amazing! a “touch of agar…” any more direction for that? 1/4 teaspoon or so…???

  11. You’re amazing. Where/How did you learn to cook with such…. amazing-ness?

  12. Oh yum Hannah! What a gorgeous cake!!

  13. This cake looks delicious! And the way you describe it I can almost taste it.

  14. your lucky grandma ! what a beautiful cake you made. and your photos are just incredible.

  15. This looks wonderful. Coconut and pineapple, something I wouldn’t think of when making a cake.

  16. This is one perfect looking cake – amazing.

    After some practice with vegan baking I now manage to achieve great results with cakes and such – tastewise. Still, mine never look as perfect as yours, not even close. Great Job!

  17. Looks absolutely perfect indeed! Great take on the challenge, the flavors are awesome!

  18. if that cake tastes as good as it looks and sounds, it seems you’ve got yourself a tropical winner!

  19. I really like the color scheme. What a pretty cake!

  20. Wow, wow, wow I’m ipressed! Well done.

  21. Pineapple and coconut are always winners in my book.
    Your cake is so beautifully decorated.

  22. That sounds FABULOUS! I love pineapple & lemon curd!

  23. Your cake looks perfect and ever so well-decorated! Great job here!



  24. Very very pretty! And I think your layers look just perfect. I like the combination of pineapple and coconut, yum!

  25. Sounds like a very yummy cake! And I never stop to be amazed by your pics, they all look so professional! I wish I could take pics like that.
    But your cake look so professional too! Im more amazed who regular, deadly people can make a cake look like that! (and everything else you do).

  26. Oh my, everything sounds and looks gorgeous! =)

  27. Your cake is beautifully finished and I love the flavors you opted to use. Perfect Party Cake, indeed!

  28. Pineapple sounds so so good!


  29. Simply gorgeous cake…almost looks too good to eat!

  30. You are the master baker, I bow to you!

  31. Gorgeous! You really did a great job :)

  32. Hannah – You did a fabulous job on your cake. The dragees are a lovely touch. Thanks for the link to your whipped coconut creme.

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  33. Thanks to your recipes and confidence, I too have been drawn to making layer cakes (which I used to be intimidated by – now I LOVE making them!).

    So glad that this month’s DBC turned out JUST how you intended it to (even though I think that ALL of your DBC results are fantastic) – hooray!! :0D

  34. that looks amazing! I really love the idea of the daring bakers group too, such great fun!

  35. Oh my god! You cake loves beautiful!!

  36. Lovely! I love the toasted coconut, that was a great idea!

  37. Gorgeous! I love the aspect that the toasted coconut added to the overall look.

  38. Beautiful cake! The cake looks gorgeous uncut, but the layers of the cake are really impressive!

  39. Simply gorgeous, a knockout cake!

  40. It is gorgeous! Wow! It looks more like carrot cake!

  41. That is absolutely beautiful!

  42. Perfect cake with perfect layers…marvellous challenge. Love the blend of flavours; very tropical. Your frosting is pretty pretty pretty & I love the shiny dragees;never seen anything like this before. Glad Gran was so happy…

  43. i’m starting a round of applause for you right now. or better yet, the wave!
    i barely have words–that just looks incredibly scumptious. :)

  44. Pretty little silver papilles! I love them. The effect is stunning.

  45. Love the shine and smooth top layer! Very elegant!

  46. I would celebrate, too, if my cake had risen like that! Please do tell what you subbed for the eggs! Originally I wanted to try agar for my frosting, but the young woman at the health food store had never heard of it, so I used the vegan gelatin instead. (I felt like an elderly hippie. “Honey, where’s my cane and birkenstocks?”)

  47. Your cake looks absolutely beautiful!!! Congratulations on a successful challenge.

  48. Not surprised you have so many comments for such a beautiful cake… how perfect! It looks just like the ones in bakery windows! Great job!

  49. Sounds like a tropical wonderland in 4 layers to me!! What a lovely job you did on this month’s challenge!

  50. Absolutely spectacularly gorgeous! I knew pineapple would be good in this cake. I would love to try your version. It’s all so perfect.

  51. whatta beauty!!!

  52. The things you bake and come up with are always so creative and well done! Your cake is so beautifully decorated. I love the idea of a pineapple cake, and then you made jam with it?? I’d never think of these things. So creative.

  53. This is such a gorgeous interpretation of this cake! Yum!

  54. I can really appreciate the tropical flavors of your cake. It looks beautiful and I bet it was delicious. Great job with this month’s challenge!

  55. Great job! Who would have thought of pineapple…I love it!

  56. Yay, another pineapple cake! Yours is just gorgeous…I love the toasted coconut only on the sides. And beautiful photography, as always :)

  57. Oh, wow! It looks amazing!!

  58. Your decoration is so pretty, you have a great talent! I love the toasted coconut as well…

  59. Oh, I love that you added pineapple, such a perfect companion to the coconut. Beautiful decoration, too!

  60. that’s one gorgeous cake! And it sounds like it tastes divine!

  61. Absolutely lovely! Great flavour choice.


  62. What a lovely tropical take on the cake – sounds divine and is beautifully decorated as well!

  63. What an AMAZINGLY beautiful cake! You are awesome!

  64. Oh what a gorgeous cake! It’s truly elegant and breathtaking. Almost shameful to compare to the cake I made.

  65. This is beautiful! I’d hoped to do something as classy as your border, but I ran out of frosting first. Yours is truly elegant – a work of art. I’ll bet your Grandma was impressed.

  66. Okay I’m sure I’m not the only one that thinks this is gorgeous enough to be my wedding cake! hmm all those other details- the boy, the place, invitations and other small details- can work themselves out for a cake like this LOL


  67. now that is an elegant cake!

  68. Oh wow, you just sold me on your book! Not only does that look delicious, but I was just thinking this weekend that I needed to find an eggless lemon curd to make lemon-raspberry cupcakes. Yum!

  69. hannah, i don’t even LIKE coconut and I think that looks faaab-o :)

  70. wow! this is truly beautiful….wish I could have a piece!

  71. after 71 comments, you must know this by now, but this cake looks FANTASTIC!! you amaze me!

  72. Hi Hannah – Can you contact me via email about the Alternative Daring Bakers Baking Together in April. (glutenagogo AT gmail DOT com) Thanks!

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  73. Have you EVER made anything that isn’t BEAUTIFUL?! :) This looks absolutely amazing. My mouth literally watered while reading the description & looking at the pictures…

  74. This is a breathtaking cake, Hannah!

  75. Oh I love layer cakes too!! It is so much fun when you don’t know what’s inside (and also when you do!) That is such a beautiful cake, perfect for the occasion!!

  76. Now those are flavor combinations I don’t think I would have thought of! And very pretty too.

  77. That looks gorgeous! Love how you gave a tropical twist to the recipe. I’ll have to try this the next time I make this cake.

  78. Positively gorgeous!

  79. It’s so fascinating how you adapt the recipe! And the final product is just gorgeous!

  80. Gorgeous! Love the pineapple and coconut combo. :)

  81. Wow, looks yummy and gorgeous.

  82. That looks amazing,
    my name’s Amy you might remember me from a long time a go when I organized a vegan swap on Craftster that you were in. Anyways I wanted to let you know that I started a new vegan blog called The Good Goods where I review everything vegan and I’ve linked to your site and plan to do a review of your book soon,
    Have a looksy if you’d like

  83. Your cake looks wonderful! I glad it turned out the way you wanted it to :)

  84. Are you joking about my cake being beautiful, look at yours! That’s EX-ACT-LY what I was talking about when I said people who know how to make their frosting look perfectly smooth, HOW DO YOU DO IT? and would you please teach me? And you write cookbooks. I think I love you.

  85. Right on Hannah,
    This looks fantastic. I’ve been thinking about pineapple a lot lately, thinking that I’d like to make some pineapple-y treats… It’s an underrated flavor, I think!

    :) Amey

  86. this is amazing gorgeous! love it!

  87. A Picture Perfect Cake!

  88. the silver jimmies are so dignified! what a gorgeous cake and thanks for the link to the coconut cream topping.


  89. your blog is so pretty! the pictures are great and the recipes are awesome! i hope you’d inspire more people with this… smile always (even though things are a bit bitter right now)

  90. Your cake is so beautiful!

  91. Absolutely beautiful (sounds delish, too!)

  92. Hannah,
    It’d be awesome if you would post your veganized recipe, for those of us that like to follow The Daring Bakers’ blogs. I’m not sure if you used a different cake recipe for the challenge or if you veganized the four eggs?


  93. beautiful! “Pina Coloda” cake sounds really good. I will have to try that flavor combo someday!

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