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.

Yield: 14 servings

Prep Time: 60 min

Cook Time: 35 min

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.


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

35 Responses to “Perfect Party Cake”

  1. postedFeb 10, 2013 1:58 PM
    Norene 1

    I love your pretty refreshing cake recipe and am going to try and make this for Mother’s Day for my mother. I think she will be really surprised at how fancy it looks when you slice it and present it on a plate. I love the pure white and red combination and am so glad you have shared it. Thank you!

  2. postedDec 13, 2013 10:33 AM

    Love your beautiful cake! Can’t wait to try it!

  3. postedMar 29, 2014 10:46 AM

    To make the buttercream.. eggs with yolks?

    • postedMar 31, 2014 8:10 AM

      Egg whites only.

  4. postedMar 29, 2014 11:38 AM


  5. postedApr 15, 2014 9:13 PM

    Hi… When u say the cake should be well risen… By how much do u mean? Mine didn’t raise by much… It was delicious but didn’t raise a lot

    • postedApr 18, 2014 9:18 AM

      If you’re using cake strips, the layers should be flat- I can’t remember if they rise to the top of the pan or not.

  6. postedAug 29, 2014 1:23 PM

    Hi..I loved your cake and I’m so exited to try it but I have a question..should I whisk the egg whites in the mixer until light and doubled in size or just whisk it with the fork .. thank you very much for sharing your recipe with us

    • postedSep 1, 2014 9:07 PM

      I’d use the mixer.

  7. postedApr 10, 2015 10:26 AM

    How long do I whisk the egg white and milk mixture?

    • postedApr 13, 2015 7:32 PM

      until it’s combined!

  8. postedMay 12, 2015 9:29 AM

    Made this this weekend and it was delicious.  I used lemon curd instead of raspberry preserves and strawberries instead of raspberries and it was awesome.  I also used vanilla extract instead of lemon in the cake because I didn’t want too much lemon flavor with the lemon curd and it worked very nicely.  I was really impressed with the flavor and texture of the cake itself.  Thanks for the recipe!

  9. postedJan 7, 2016 6:03 AM

    I make this cake often. Sometimes I use apricot jam, or blueberry jam – its really good and quite light.

  10. postedFeb 8, 2016 3:33 PM
    Louise Keene

    Can not wait to try this ,its so beautiful!!!!!

  11. postedFeb 21, 2016 1:38 PM

    I know this may come as a shock but… I don’t own a Kitchen Aid stand alone mixer, just the old fashioned handheld mixer 😮  Will it all work by hand mixing everything?

    • postedFeb 22, 2016 12:55 PM

      Should be fine!

  12. postedMar 16, 2016 2:35 PM

    Hello, this looks yummy, I will make this for our easter get together only one question  can I use all purpose flour or do I have to use cake flour? Thanks

    • postedMar 17, 2016 9:20 PM

      Use cake flour!

  13. postedMar 21, 2016 11:15 AM
    Ally Roz

    Could I use real lemon juice instead of extract in the cake? How much, do you think? I doubt if 1/2 tsp will do. Thank you! It’s a beautiful cake, can’t wait to make it for Easter.

  14. postedMay 5, 2016 5:40 AM

    OMIGOSH that looks soooo yummy! Raspberries, lemon, and whipped cream are a match made in heaven. My local grocery store makes a cake similar to this every spring and I can barely wait to get one each year, but I may have to try this instead. 

  15. postedMay 27, 2016 11:00 AM

    Made this for a work picnic, I almost didn’t get a piece! I used strawberries instead of raspberries.

    I am going to make it this weekend for my son’s birthday party/memorial day. Is it possible to do in a 9×13 with the same recipe for the 2 8″ round?

    • postedMay 31, 2016 8:00 PM

      Sorry I missed this- I was on vacation! Did you try it in a 9×13?

  16. postedMay 29, 2016 5:01 AM

    This looks sooo good! A lot of work, but I must try and make this! Thanks for including your whipped topping experience too. I loved whipped topping! Thanks Lori for sharing this recipe! 

  17. postedJun 12, 2016 2:26 PM

    How can I translate this into an 13x 18

    • postedJun 14, 2016 7:31 PM

      I’m not sure as I haven’t made it that way…

  18. postedOct 24, 2016 6:27 AM

    Does this cake freeze well?

    • postedOct 28, 2016 9:19 AM

      The cake on its own would freeze well, but not assembled with frosting and strawberries.

  19. postedDec 11, 2016 1:52 PM

    Helloo. So thinking of making this for work Christmas party but coworker allergic to fresh fruit. What do you think of lemon curd and raspberry jam between layers and frost with whipped cream? 

    • postedDec 18, 2016 4:08 PM

      Sounds good!

  20. postedJan 15, 2017 7:05 AM

    I saw this and instantly fell in love with it. Looks so yummy!! Just had a few questions. I want to make this for a dinner party, and if I use whipped cream, can it stay out till dinner time? Also, can I make the cakes a day ahead and assemble it on th day of the party? Thanks. Bunch!

    • postedJan 20, 2017 5:09 PM

      I think it’s fine to make the cakes ahead. Since you’re using whipped cream, I’d refrigerate it as long as you can before taking out to sit at room temp.

  21. postedApr 20, 2017 9:08 AM

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

  22. postedFeb 6, 2018 12:27 AM
    Judith Blaine

    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.! 

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