This Month’s Daring Baker’s challenge, hosted by the lovely Morven, of Food Art and Random Thoughts, was one that made me giddy from the get go. Why? Because this time the rules basically said “do what you want”. The challenge was to make our own version of Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake. The only guidelines were that we must use the basic recipe and that it hadda be a layer cake. That’s just fine by me!
The original recipe called for buttercream icing. I’m not strictly a fan of buttercream, so I went with an orange-infused ganache instead. The original said you could use whipped cream if so desired, but that sounded too sweet for me, so I just whipped the ganache to something of a whipped cream consistency. Again, works for me.
The other change… Well, the original recipe was for a lemon based cake… I don’t have anything against lemons, but I have a TON of oranges lying about right now, so I changed out one citrus for another and skipped any type of fruit filling on this round. The cake will probably end up at my wife’s office, and I wanted it to keep well.
How did all these changes turn out, you ask?
Fantastically! The cake is light, spongy, dreamy and jam-packed with orange flavor. I may never look at any other white cake again for the rest of my life. Seriously, those relationships have grown stale in an instant. We’re just not on the same page any longer.
The ganache is almost like a chocolate-orange cloud, and has just passed up any other icing choice I’ve ever had. I’ll just use a white chocolate for it if I need a white frosting in the future. I think I may have over whipped it a bit, which made it difficult to spread, but the flavor… Oh, the flavor…
Pardon me.. I gotta grab another slice, why don’t you just print up the recipes below this and go make some for yerself…
!note: I just read that I wasn’t the only one that substituted orange for my cake. Check out the rest of this recipes’ variations at the daring bakers blogroll!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
For the Cake:
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon pure orange extract
For the Orange Ganache
- 16 oz dark chocolate chips
- 16 oz. heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp. pure orange extract
- Centre 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 Ganache
- Bring heavy cream just to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. Pour over chocolate chips in the bowl of your food processor with blade attachment in place. Let stand 5 minutes then add orange extract and pulse several times until well mixed.
- Allow to cool to room temperature (approximately 4 hours.)
- Pour ganache into mixer and whisk on high for about two minutes or until fluffy.
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.
- Cover the slice evenly with about one quarter of the ganache.
- Top with another layer, spread ganache and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have ganache leftover).
- Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining ganache to frost the sides and top.
- Drizzle with some melted chocolate or ganache glaze if desired… (I so desired)
- 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.
- 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.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 557Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 305mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 3gSugar: 46gProtein: 7g
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
I would have gotten some orange liqueur to use as a crumb coat.
Links to other recipes like this one:
Yum! I love the chocolate ganache icing and am going to try it out real soon!
Chocolate AND orange! So delicious! I wish I could grab a slice through my computer screen…
Wow, you made lots of changes – it sounds fantastic. Chocolate and orange is possibly the best combo ever.
Great combination, Jerry. I also loved the fact that we could “play” with this cake to our liking. Next time I make this kind of cake I will make it orange. :D
Your cake looks amazing – I really like the chocolate on it. Not that many did chocolate.
It’s a great substitute for a heavier butter-laden frosting. (No calorie loss though!) To me it feels airier and a little less sweet. I don’t know if it will ever replace a good cream-cheese icing, but it’s close… Very close!
Long time no see hon! I wish I could share a slice with you. Unfortunately the cake is already on its way to be polished off by hungry servicemen. The relationship was fun while it lasted.
The minute I decided to go with orange i knew I’d be adding chocolate and I’m very glad I did, this was simply a-ma-zing!
I’d call ’em “variations”. The cake recipe is basically untouched, as it should be. It’s just plain good cake!
As you know, I’m not exactly a “by the book” kind of guy, so the chance to get creative was a great motivator for me. And really, DO try the orange. That’s a heckuva cake!
Chocolate loves orange and vice-verse. The only combination more perfect than this is chocolate and coffee (with PB)
It’s a bit rugged to get on evenly, but it’s worth it! I’d use it on cupcakes first if I were you, just to get a feel for it.
Nice cake! Love the orange and chocolate variation!
Your ganache is giving me serious icing envy. Oh well, I know not to make buttercream next time! Your cake looks delicious…congratulations on the challenge!
I found my doppleganger for this Daring Bakers event! Check out mine to see what I mean. :)
Yours looks very, very pretty!
Yum….one can never go wrong with chocolate ganache! Good call on the orange, too.
It’s simply gorgeous, Jerry! My God you ARE a natural baker!! hee!
Love the flavor combon – definitely one of my all time favorites.
I love chocolate and orange together! Great looking cake.
Gorgeous cake Jerry! Picture perfect! I love whipped ganache way better than buttercream so I am totally lusting after that cake!
I adore chocolate. What a beautiful interpretation of the recipe.
I adore chocolate. What a beautiful interpretation of the recipe.
The cake slices look just wonderful. Great job. I did a lemon/orange combo because it’s what I had on hand. :) Sometimes one must improvise.
See, now I feel like this is the version I was supposed to make. What was I thinking, leaving chocolate out!? Looks delicious.
what a great combination!! i want to make the cake again using your combinations!! mmmmmmm…yum!
I’ll head over to the dark side with chocolate next time as well Jerry. I stuck with the coconut version pretty much this time around:D
Nothing like taking a week to check out your cake, right Jerry? It was worth the wait, though. I love chocolate and orange together and that chocolaty drizzleness you have going on is lookin quite yummy. I agree that this was a completely delicious cake that allowed for creativity. I enjoyed that quite a bit. Cheers!