Perfect Party Cake

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

The cakes in this recipe turn out perfect. I chose to make mine in 8-inch pans rather than 9 as I prefer a taller layer cake. They baked up just right, lemon-scented and all, and they were very easy to turn out onto the racks. They were firm enough to be handled easily but delicate enough for a nice, light cake. I found myself scraping the crumbs off of the parchment paper to attempt to get a hint of what my creation would taste like.

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

So let’s talk about Dorie’s buttercream recipe. Maybe I don’t care too much for buttercream…It was good, but I did feel that it was far too rich for a layer cake. I had planned to frost the cake with it, but after spreading it on several layers, I decided to go with whipped cream to frost the rest of the cake.

I really feel like this was the best way to go. Buttercream all the way around might have been a bit too much.

Not being a cake decorator in any sense of the word, I had no avenue to go *exotic* with this cake.

This was our Easter dessert, so I went the safe route with a classic raspberry decor.

Pretty ok job for a non cake-decorator, eh? My 6 year old was impressed and that’s all that matters to me 🙂

The cake was devoured by all of my Easter guests, and I was right… the whipped cream frosting was the way to go. The buttercream provided all of the richness that was needed within the cake. The actual cake base I thought was very, very good. I would repeat the cake base recipe any time. The buttercream… I might look for something that suits me a little better. I think a lemon curd might work nicely too.

Perfect Party Cake

Dorie Greenspan really got it right with this cake. I thought the buttercream was quite rich, so I opted to frost the outside with lightly sweetened whipped cream. I think it would be equally good if you used the whipped cream in the layers too.

Yield: 14 servings

Prep Time:60 min

Cook Time:35 min


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

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

2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously until spreadable
fresh raspberries


1. 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.

2. To Make Cake: Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put 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 your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add 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 homogenous, 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.

3. 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.)

4. To Make 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.

5. 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.

6. To Assemble 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. 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. Decorate top with raspberries.


*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.
*You might also choose to use buttercream for the layers and then whipping cream to cover the outside of the cake (this is what the picture shows.)
*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.

SOURCE: (Adapted slightly from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

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  • 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.