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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

twd: perfect party cake, fresh berry variation

first attempt: june 2008

I first made this cake last year. And was absolutely smitten. My friends and I made quick work of the four layer nine inch cake, and I dreamed about the light layers, silky frosting, and layered berryness through a long, endless winter.

Imagine my delight when I read that Carol, of mix, mix...stir, stir selected the cake for our TWD baking group right at the beginning of local berry season. Positively providential, I say.

Berry bliss. Cake elation.

This time around, I made a full recipe, but divided the batter into two six inch layers and 8 or 9 cupcakes for two reasons:
1. Dessert control: berry season means shortcake and tarts and cakes and ice cream, and I kinda need to *not* eat such rich goodies more than once a day.

2. The great Dorie vs. Martha showdown: simple white cupcakes by each baking guru. Which are simplest to make *and* the most delicious to eat? I stowed Dorie's cupcakes in the freezer until the day in the future when I make Martha's version.

With a bevy of berries at my disposal, I planned to make the fresh berry version, which involves jam *and* a layer of fresh, sliced berries sandwiched between cake and frosting.

My baking began on Monday evening, when I made the cake layers, wrapped them tightly, and placed them in the freezer. On Wednesday night I made the jam, a quick berry and sugar jumble cooked until just thickened and then brightened with a splash of lemon juice. I was pleased with my forethought.

Late Thursday afternoon I removed the layers from the freezer and set about making the frosting. As I skimmed the recipe numbers jumped out at me, and I slowly remembered the time this frosting takes to prepare--a good 20 minutes. I glanced at the clock. I still needed to make and eat dinner, tidy up myself and my house, all before heading out to my colleagues' softball game. Not to mention assembling the entire cake. It was going to be tight. And then my brother L called after a week's silence and we chatted and my time window narrowed...

naked cake

Before we left for the game, I opened up the fridge so G could gaze upon the cake and (hopefully) declare it impressive and/or cute. (he did).

how cute am i?!?

And then, after watching my colleagues soar to softball victory on a balmy, perfect summer night, we set about eating the cake, to celebrate birthdays and Summers of Fun. Well, after the photo shoot, that is.

before we can eat cake, i must first make a photo (or two or five)

This baking/blogging business has a habit of both delaying the pleasure of eating and putting people on the spot.

"What do you think? How would you describe this cake?" I quizzed G.

"It's really very nice and good."

And, days later, when asked for a follow-up comment, "It was so strawberry-y."

And, truth be told, this cake is very berry. Deceptively light, with just the right level of sweetness. The silky frosting wants to melt in your mouth, and the lemon scented cake floats away on a cloud of creme fraiche filling. But above it all is that definite strawberry-y-ness. The sweetness. The berry goodness.

The cake is gone, only a memory, but a delicious, happy, sweet one at that.


  1. This cakes looks delicious! I wish I could bake. It's a really good way of sharing very special moments. Must try one day...

  2. It's a lovely cake. I'm so impressed with the smoothness of your outer frosting layer. The whole thing is absolutely adorable, and I'm sure that it was nothing short of fantastic!

  3. The pictures of the cakes are so great! Little bits of summery goodness on a plate. Great post!

  4. rien de mieux que des belles fraises ! c'est super réussi :)

  5. Ooooooh! I am in love with what you did with your cake! Those berry layers! I think if I had thought about that option I would have nixed my cupcakes and gone berry layer cake all the way. This has got to be the ultimate summer dessert.

  6. Stunning looking cake.

  7. Anonymous11:43 AM

    Your cake is SO cute and looks really delicious. I wish I would have been able to make this. I haven't been missing out on fresh berries though - yum.

  8. Your cake turned out beautifully and even with a time crunch; very impressive. I am so glad I was able to give you a good reason to make this for the second time. What a lucky gal you are to have some cupcake versions hiding in your freezer. Thanks for baking with me this week.

  9. The (cute, delicious, silky, fabulous) cake may be gone, but the cupcakes live on to face The Challenge!! I'm really wishing I had a taste (or even a memory of the taste I apparently had last year...)

  10. You really need to find some foodie friends who will give you more descriptive quotes than the ones you were forced to pepper this blog entry with.

    "Strawberry-y"?? Really??

    I should...I mean, um...he *ahem*...should be ashamed of him(my)self.

    But it was truly delicious. Thanks, dharmagirl. :)

  11. Wonderful looking cake! I'll have to do this one again with fresh berry layers. Yum!

  12. Wow! I bet it was amazing with all those fresh berries! I can't wait for the results of the cupcake taste test, but I am very biased to prefer Dorie.

  13. Looks like cake and short cake all rolled into one with the fresh strawberries. Amazing!!!

  14. Anonymous4:37 PM

    Your cake is gorgeous! I love the addition of fresh berries. YUM!

  15. What a great treat after a baseball game! Gorgeous, gorgeous cake! And congrats on completing NaBloPoMo!

  16. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Your Perfect Party Cake is o soo cute! I love the picture of the naked cake - it looks berry delicious! I'd like to try it with fresh fruit one time too. Wow, you even made your own jam too! Awesome!!

  17. A great story about fitting cake-baking into a busy life and the value of having homemade cake.
    Looks delicious, too!