Perfect Party Cake

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This Perfect Party Cake recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s must-have cookbook: Baking From My Home to Yours.

Perfect Party Cake

If you ever need the perfect cake for a special celebration– this is it!  This Perfect Party Cake is made up of four thin layers of lemon cake layered with buttercream and raspberry.  The whole cake is covered in freshly whipped cream and topped with more fresh raspberries.  It’s an impressive cake!

Lemon Cake layers for Perfect Party Cake

The cakes in this recipe turn out perfect. I like to make mine in 8-inch pans rather than 9 as I prefer a taller layer cake. They bake up just right, lemon-scented and all, and they are very easy to turn out onto racks. They are firm enough to be handled easily but delicate enough for a nice, light cake. I always find myself scraping the crumbs off of the parchment paper to attempt to get a sampling of the cake flavor!

Lemon Cake Layers for Perfect Party Cake

This Perfect Party Cake has four layers– because you’ll cut each of your cake layers in half.

Perfect Party Cake: lemon cake with layers of buttercream and raspberry

The layers slice apart nice and evenly without too much effort at all. I spread my layers with raspberry jam, buttercream and halved raspberries.

Perfect Party Cake: lemon cake with layers of buttercream and raspberry

The buttercream in this recipe is very good, but it’s also very rich.  So I prefer to use freshly whipped cream to cover the exterior of the cake. 

Perfect Party Cake with lemon cake and buttercream

I really feel like this is the best way to go. Buttercream all the way around might be a bit too much.

Perfect Party Cake: lemon cake with layers of buttercream and raspberry
Perfect Party Cake

Not being a cake decorator in any sense of the word, I don’t do anything fancy with this cake.  If you want to grab a piping bag with a tip, you can pipe some minimal decoration onto the edges and it will look pretty enough!  Add some fresh raspberries on top, and you’re good to go!

Perfect Party Cake with Fresh Raspberries

Suggested Occasions for Serving Perfect Party Cake:

It would make a delicious and pretty cake for Valentine’s Day, Easter or Mother’s Day.  And if you want a really pretty cake for a birthday, it would make a nice birthday cake too!

Perfect Party Cake with Fresh Raspberries

Pretty ok job for a non cake-decorator, eh? My kiddo was impressed, and that’s all that matters to me 🙂

Perfect Party Cake

I first made this cake for a family Easter celebration, and it was devoured by all of my guests. I was right… the whipped cream frosting was the way to go. The buttercream provides all of the richness that is needed within the cake. The actual cake base I think is very, very good. I would repeat the cake base recipe any time. The buttercream is good, but it’s a rich one.  I might like to try my Wedding Cupcake Buttercream next time in this recipe to see how it works. I think a lemon curd might work nicely too.

slice of Perfect Party Cake

If you’re looking for more recipes to use up fresh raspberries, you might like to try:

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4.84 from 6 votes

Perfect Party Cake

This cake has delicious lemon cake layers with buttercream and raspberry.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 14 servings
Calories 522kcal
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon raspberry layer cake, perfect party cake

Ingredients

CAKE:

  • cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cups buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

BUTTERCREAM:

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (about 2 lemons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FINISHING:

  • 2/3 cup raspberry preserves (stirred vigorously until spreadable)
  • fresh raspberries, for garnish-- and in-between layers, if you'd like

Instructions

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 8 or 9-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.

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 well combined, 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 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch- a toothpick inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold 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 2 months.)

MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM:

  • Put sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl; fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from heat.
  • Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter one stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium -high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate- just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
  • NOTE:  There will be enough buttercream in this recipe to frost the outside of the cake too.  If you wish to cover the cake with whipped cream instead of buttercream, you'll have some buttercream left over.

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 cake plate surrounded by strips of waxed paper. Spread it with a light layer of buttercream. Spread the buttercream with 1/3 of the preserves. (SEE RECIPES NOTES BELOW IF YOU WANT TO ADD FRESH RASPBERRIES). Top with another layer, spread with buttercream and preserves and then do the same with the third layer (you'll have used all of the jam and have buttercream left over.) Place the last layer cut-side-down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and the top. Alternately, you can make freshly whipped cream and cover the cake with that instead of the buttercream. Decorate top with raspberries.  Keep refrigerated until serving.

Video

Notes

  • Options: *If you don't want to use the buttercream, you can whip up some lightly sweetened heavy whipping cream and use that in place of the buttercream in the layers.
  • *You might also choose to use buttercream for the layers and then whipping cream to cover the outside of the cake (this is what is shown in the pictures and video)
  • *If you're serving the cake the same day that it's made, you can layer raspberries within the layers (as the pictures show.)
  • *Vary the berries and the jam- Try using blueberry preserves and blueberries. Try using lemon curd instead of preserves.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 147mg | Potassium: 191mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 845IU | Vitamin C: 3.5mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 0.3mg
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Comments

  • Ariana wrote:

    It’s a nice party cake. I decided to switch things up by using the lime, cardamon, and blackberry combo you have in you pavlova recipe. The flavors were fabulous. And it made a nice birthday cake in terms of flavor and lightness. I’m excited to try it as originally posted. To answer some of the queries about prepping th buttercream, I tried making the butter cream up the day before-it’s the best buttercream I’ve ever made, but I think would have been easier to work with had I made it day of. Still majorly delicious though!

    I do have one question though-my cakes came out rather flat. Not really sure why they didn’t rise well. Should I have beat the egg whites fluffy before adding the buttermilk instead? Maybe my baking powder was too old? Any suggestions? I’d like to do this cake justice next time I make it.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      This is a recipe where the layers bake up flat so they are easier to stack.

  • Adele Aiken wrote:

    This is the most pinned recipe on my Pinterest page. EVERY day at least 15 and up to 50 pins are made of this recipe!! I’m fixing it for a birthday. My question – can you make the buttercream ahead and keep in the fridge until you are ready to frost the cake – like maybe 2 or 3 days ahead?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      How fun- thanks for pinning! I haven’t made the buttercream ahead, so I’m not sure!

  • Joyce wrote:

    I want to try your recommendation to just use the meringue buttercream for layering. I agree that whipped cream frosting works better! Will making half of the buttercream recipe be enough for layering?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I’m sorry but I made this so long ago that I do not recall!

  • Valerie wrote:

    Wow that is a really pretty cake, you did a great job! I love the combination of strawberries and whipped cream, it’s one of my favorites and always a hit.

  • Aimee Shugarman wrote:

    This is definitely one of my new favorite cake recipes!

  • lauren kelly wrote:

    Yup, you named this cake perfectly…it really is the perfect party cake! I made it and it and there were no leftovers! Which means I have to make it again!

  • Billy wrote:

    OMG this cake is heavenly. A huge hit at my house!

  • Liz wrote:

    This does look like a perfect party cake! I’d love this for my birthday!

  • Laura Payne wrote:

    What are the measurements for the homemade whipped cream icing?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I don’t think I measured– maybe just whip up a couple of cups of heavy whipping cream and that should do it.

  • Reta clickner wrote:

    I have been putting jam between the layers for years. One of my favorites is chocolate cake with raspberry preserves between the layers with a chocolate frosting.

  • Andy wrote:

    I made this cake for the 2nd time. I put icing on the whole cake just to see the difference. 1st cake I made like a Victorian cake. No icing on the sides, but iced the top. It was a huge hit both times.
    I am now getting asked if i made my cake at every holiday.
    Grown men (who pretend they dont like sweets) still talking about those 4 beautiful layers, and how special it looked and tasted. I think this is the go to holiday cake that wows everyone.

  • Andy wrote:

    I made this cake for Memorial day. The most labor intensive cake I have ever made, but worth the effort. The cake was light and moist, the hint of lemon from the zest made the cake really stand out against the bright taste of the rasberry preserves. It was so light and airy. You could just eat that alone.
    Now to describe that frosting. A beautiful fluffy glossy frosting, that took the cake to the next level. Not overly sweet at all.
    I had some friends over, and they were amazed the cake was 4 layers! lol. No one in their family bakes, let alone makes a 4 layer cake. The cake was such a hit. They said they loved the very light cake. What guy talks about how amazing the cake is in a recipe? Lol. I’ve never seen a cake devoured so fast. Now I’m left with one piece. I gave them some to take home. I have to make it again. Hubby wasn’t happy the cake went home with them.
    I only used the frosting on the layers/top and didn’t frost the sides. It doesn’t need it. I made it like a Victorian cake, with a frosted top. This cake is the most amazing I’ve ever made & eaten. I piped big dollop of frosting to hold the raspberry jam in, and used as spoon to spread the dollops around the outside towards the center. I will add zest to the frosting next time bc I love the taste. Not just a cake, but an experience for tastebuds.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      so happy to hear!!!

  • Judith Blaine wrote:

    I noticed the frosting recipe calls for granulated sugar. I have never used granulated in a frosting. Always have used powdered. 
    I will have to try using 9″x13″ pan. Just me, no children, so I can piece it and then freeze it. Am diabetic so can’t eat this kind of thing very often. Freezing helps with portioning it out. Recipe looks Luscious.! 

  • Jennie wrote:

    What exactly is cake flour. Ive only ever used plain or self raising or cornflower. Where do I buy cake flour.