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Perfect Party Cake for Perfect Parties

Perfect Party CakePerfect parties are hard to come by. For some reason this week I have spent a lot of time thinking about past groups of friends. Mostly I have been thinking how much I miss them. I miss the times of hanging out at different houses, different people – yet all the same. I miss those last minute get-togethers that college life would bring my way.

Many of the fun times I had centered more around the people than the food we ate. Years ago, we were content all just being together. The counter was a hodge-podge of things like skittles, tortilla chips, spinach salad and random bottles of soda. Nothing went together, yet at that time, nothing felt out of place.

Somehow the older I have gotten, something has changed. Dinner parties seem to have taken the place of spur of the moment get-togethers. The focus has almost shifted more to the food than the friends. It is not to say that I don’t enjoy sharing a good meal or taking something for us to break bread with. But, I miss those kinds of friendships.

Why has all this been on my mind? Over the last week, I have spent several evenings in the company of other Americans. Those times of laughter and fun remind me of the past. Before, I may have been one to bring the chips and salsa. But, my “grown-up” tastes lead me to share something more refined, more polished.

In order to celebrate a few birthdays last weekend, I baked up Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake found in Baking–From My Home to Yours. She suggested lemon and raspberry as cake, filling and frosting flavors. Knowing that I couldn’t get lemon, my mind immediately wandered to orange. Lime is my most obvious substitute, but I was hoping for something more subtle. I thought a lot about what I wanted to use along with the orange flavored cake and wound up with two options – orange marmalade and fig jam. I chose the fig jam.

The cake baked up very nicely. I used a combination of flour and cornstarch as a cake flour replacement. I used plain drinkable yogurt as a substitute for buttermilk. The lemon zest was replaced with orange zest and the extract was not used as I did not yet have it in my kitchen. (Now I do, just in case I want to give this another whirl!)

Instead of two rounds, I used a very large & shallow sheet pan. My idea was to cut out small circles to stack up as individual cakes. Cutting the cake with a small glass proved to be near disastrous and I made a quick and reasonable change of plans. I went square. I could still cut four equal squares of a reasonable, yet adorable size. So that was exactly what I did!

The cake was then layered with fig jam and orange buttercream, then more cake, more jam and buttercream and so on. I was a bit bummed to find myself short on the buttercream. Typically I go really thin on the layers and end up with triple the amount I should have on the top and sides. This time was no exception, I used very little on the layers but found I had little pockets at the bottom where I just couldn’t spread anymore. (But then I cannot imagine making more…three sticks of butter *already*…how could I even ponder to add more?)

I never planned to cover it with coconut. I am just learning to like coconut so a whole cake covered in it would have just saddened me, not made me happier! I sprinkled purple and orange candies on the top (mind you…those came in an assorted color pack…I picked out the ones I wanted!)…get it…purple (figs) and orange (orange)?

So what did my friends and I think? The taste was good, but it wasn’t great. I thought the cake batter tasted great (yes, I taste test all batters) but the baked cake lost its pizzazz. (That may have been my bad for lack of extract.) The frosting just wasn’t enough (and I did not use all of the cake since I cut circles out of part of it). I would like to try it again with a citrus curd (lime, lemon, grapefruit) and more (gasp!) buttercream. I would also like to try a chocolate version.

Mmmm…perfect party cake for perfect parties.

Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake is being served up as the March Daring Bakers Challenge. The Perfect Party Cake was chosen by this months host, Morven at Food, Art and Random Thoughts. Please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see what other perfect cakes are being served up today!


91 Responses to “Perfect Party Cake for Perfect Parties”

  1. Oh, fig and orange, what a tasty combination! It’s a shame that it didn’t quite meet your expectations, but I’m sure that it would be gladly devoured at any party. :)

    Posted by Hannah | March 29, 2008, 11:22 pm
  2. A very pretty cake, Gretchen! :)

    Posted by Maryann | March 29, 2008, 11:55 pm
  3. I love the sprinkles! Makes your perfect party cake very whimsical. Kudos to you for picking out the “perfect” colors too ;) Great job!Clara @ I♥food4thought

    Posted by CB | March 30, 2008, 12:00 am
  4. Fig Jam. Wow. I would definately make this in a sheet form as you did.

    Posted by glamah16 | March 30, 2008, 12:05 am
  5. Fig jam! You are my hero, Gretchen :) Beautiful, as usual :)I ran out of frosting too, made me sad. Will double the next time. did you have the drinkable yogurt around for your cereal?? I have South American friends who swear by it!

    Posted by Nemmie | March 30, 2008, 12:22 am
  6. Gretchen- Your cake looks so festive! I love the colored candies. Believe it or not, my cake is baking in the oven right now. I have been so swamped with work, etc., I am just now getting a chance to make it! Thanks for the heads up on the buttercream. Using 6 sticks of butter will make me cry, but I think I will double the recipe to make sure I have enough. Wish me luck. It will be a loooong night! ;)

    Posted by StickyGooeyCreamyChewy | March 30, 2008, 12:53 am
  7. It turned out so good and I love the sprinkle effect. Fun!

    Posted by Aran | March 30, 2008, 1:01 am
  8. Great combination of flavors! I love the idea of fig jam and the sprinkles look wonderful!

    Posted by Tartelette | March 30, 2008, 2:10 am
  9. Your cake looks very pretty! I love the decoration! Wonderful!Cheers,Rosa

    Posted by Rosa's Yummy Yums | March 30, 2008, 3:06 am
  10. Your cake looks very pretty! I love the decoration! Wonderful!Cheers,Rosa

    Posted by Rosa's Yummy Yums | March 30, 2008, 3:06 am
  11. Your cake looks very pretty! I love the decoration! Wonderful!Cheers,Rosa

    Posted by Rosa's Yummy Yums | March 30, 2008, 3:06 am
  12. Your cake looks very pretty! I love the decoration! Wonderful!Cheers,Rosa

    Posted by Rosa's Yummy Yums | March 30, 2008, 3:06 am
  13. Love your flavor combinations!

    Posted by Ann | March 30, 2008, 5:49 am
  14. Oh figs would be lovely too. And I really think you colorful candies are perfect party decorations!! Great job Gretchen!

    Posted by MyKitchenInHalfCups | March 30, 2008, 5:52 am
  15. Oh…your cake looks so nice with those pretty little sprinkles!

    Posted by Judy @ No Fear Entertaining | March 30, 2008, 7:26 am
  16. I do agree with you about get togethers with friends. I long for times when it seemed so effortless to come together. Life & responsibilities takes over I suppose. I do love those sprinkles on your frosting. They look so festive!

    Posted by Bake your cake and eat it too | March 30, 2008, 8:16 am
  17. Fig and Orange sound like a wonderful combination. Great job on this months challenge.

    Posted by Tarah | March 30, 2008, 8:33 am
  18. Love the orange! And Im with CB, the sprinkles are super cute!

    Posted by slush | March 30, 2008, 9:06 am
  19. Again, lovely photos! Sprinkles really make a cake look like a party!

    Posted by dobetter | March 30, 2008, 9:29 am
  20. Fig and orange sounds amazing, and I love love love the sprinkles! So cute!

    Posted by Engineer Baker | March 30, 2008, 9:37 am
  21. Lovely photos, great job!

    Posted by Anne | March 30, 2008, 10:20 am
  22. I made this cake months ago and ran out of frosting as well. But this time around, I knew that there wasn’t a lot, so I knew to go really thin on the layers. I love the flavors you chose on this, and it looks just wonderful!

    Posted by Deborah | March 30, 2008, 10:29 am
  23. Beautiful read through for a beautiful cake Gretchen. Picking colours out of assorted mixes…good for you! Love the idea of fig jam & orange buttercream. I know the feeling of 3 sticks of butter…impossible to even contemplate a 4th. That’s why I went for whipped cream…GREAT POST!!

    Posted by Passionate baker...& beyond | March 30, 2008, 10:30 am
  24. Beautiful read through for a beautiful cake Gretchen. Picking colours out of assorted mixes…good for you! Love the idea of fig jam & orange buttercream. I know the feeling of 3 sticks of butter…impossible to even contemplate a 4th. That’s why I went for whipped cream…GREAT POST!!

    Posted by Passionate baker...& beyond | March 30, 2008, 10:30 am
  25. The colored sprinkles look very festive and I love the combination of fig and orange. Very nice!

    Posted by Karen | March 30, 2008, 10:39 am
  26. I love the sprinkles! You can never go wrong with it!

    Posted by Jerry | March 30, 2008, 10:40 am
  27. Fig and oranges, what a great combination of flavours! Your cake looks great with the coloured sprinkles. Congratulations!

    Posted by Jasmine | March 30, 2008, 10:50 am
  28. Kudos to you for doing something different! Your choice in sprinkles made it look ever-so-festive too.

    Posted by RecipeGirl | March 30, 2008, 10:54 am
  29. Fig & orange sounds delicious!I nearly ran out of frosting too, just barely eked out a complete coat.

    Posted by Susan | March 30, 2008, 11:08 am
  30. Gretchen, that’s a beautiful cake! Fig & Orange! I love the flavour combo! I can barely believe you picked the candy just to use purple and orange – that’s dedication!! Great job on the challenge. :)

    Posted by Suzana | March 30, 2008, 11:26 am
  31. Its always nice to have pretty sprinkles like that for a party cake! You made a really good choice there. I love them.

    Posted by L Vanel | March 30, 2008, 11:28 am
  32. Mine was orange curd and lemon buttercream but the combination with figs sounds amazing! Well done!

    Posted by Baking Soda | March 30, 2008, 11:32 am
  33. That looks like a perfect party cake with those sprinkles. Love the fig jam!

    Posted by Megan | March 30, 2008, 11:49 am
  34. I’m sure your friends enjoyed this cake immensely Glamah!

    Posted by Bellini Valli | March 30, 2008, 11:53 am
  35. Gretchen, that sure looks like the perfect cake to have a party with your friends. I like the sprinkled candies!

    Posted by breadchick | March 30, 2008, 12:22 pm
  36. Such a pretty cake, Gretchen! I’d have shared my buttercream with you… I had a little extra. :)

    Posted by culinography | March 30, 2008, 12:48 pm
  37. I love your cake decoration, well done!

    Posted by zorra | March 30, 2008, 12:55 pm
  38. Fig and orange! An Italian girls dream! Why didn’t I think of that? What a great combo for a cake, mmmmm!!

    Posted by Proud Italian Cook | March 30, 2008, 1:14 pm
  39. Hi Gretchen, those sprinkles are very beautiful. You’re a star to pick out the right colours. And what a good idea to make individual cakes, shame that didn’t work out, but I think your cake turned out quite beautiful!Caramella from Caramella Cooks

    Posted by Caramella Mou | March 30, 2008, 1:15 pm
  40. i love that funky cake deco. good job.

    Posted by myriam | March 30, 2008, 1:41 pm
  41. A very cheerful looking cake! Fig jam? I’ve not tried it, but the combination of flavors you used intrigues me. Too bad you thought it wasn’t as good as you thought it might be. It certainly sounds delicious to me!

    Posted by kellypea | March 30, 2008, 2:21 pm
  42. Your flavour choices sound just lovely & it looks so delicious! Beautiful photos & beautiful cake!

    Posted by shellyfish | March 30, 2008, 2:25 pm
  43. I love the fig and orange combination and I am impressed at your patience for picking out the orange and purple candies. Whew!It’s a perfect cake from the picture!xoxo

    Posted by Gabi | March 30, 2008, 2:36 pm
  44. Beautiful cake! Great job.

    Posted by ~Amber~ | March 30, 2008, 3:04 pm
  45. Ahhh yea, the passage of time as we get older usually means we have to coordinate our hang-outs more, which is both good and bad, I think. Like you, I also miss the spontaneous get-togethers that seem to crystallize out of thin air, gathering more and more people with the passing hour. But more formal or “organized” get-togethers are no less fun when you get a good group of people together :)Your fig jam idea is brillliant and the orange and purple sprinkles actually remind me of Mardi Gras!

    Posted by marias23 | March 30, 2008, 3:06 pm
  46. It does seem that baked goods with citrus lose their flavoronce baked. Zest usually helps but sometimes not. Your cake is beautiful!

    Posted by Claire | March 30, 2008, 4:28 pm
  47. Hi Gretchen – I found the same thing re: flavor of the batter vs. baked cake. Love your idea of individual cakes, and the fig and orange combo was a great idea!

    Posted by Amy | March 30, 2008, 4:52 pm
  48. The candies are so cute!

    Posted by Bridget | March 30, 2008, 4:57 pm
  49. Your cake looks so pretty! What a wonderful way to celebrate birthday parties!

    Posted by Erin | March 30, 2008, 5:53 pm
  50. Love the confetti like candy on top!

    Posted by Brilynn | March 30, 2008, 6:35 pm
  51. loved how u’ve decorated it!! It’s so dreamily pretty!!

    Posted by ioyces | March 30, 2008, 7:10 pm
  52. I agree, I had JUST enough buttercream. Used the last scrapings of it.Your color scheme is so pretty.

    Posted by Lesley | March 30, 2008, 7:34 pm
  53. Wonderful cake!! I love the sprinkles, it looks like a party just waiting to happen!! Thanks for stopping by!!

    Posted by SweetDesigns | March 30, 2008, 8:10 pm
  54. Love the sprinkles! The colors are great:) Way to go daring baker subing orange and fig for lemon! Nice job:) Hope you find your perfect party cake!!!

    Posted by Half Baked | March 30, 2008, 8:28 pm
  55. the cake is simply lovely!…and the sprinklers added a wonderful touch :)

    Posted by Anne | March 30, 2008, 8:36 pm
  56. Your cake looks lovely and the orange and fig sounds like an amazing combination!

    Posted by Merav | March 30, 2008, 9:16 pm
  57. Ooh! I those orange and lavender confetti bits look so happy together!:)j

    Posted by jasmine | March 30, 2008, 9:38 pm
  58. orange and fig sound nice…love the way you rflected the colours on the toppings as well..Neat!

    Posted by Rachel | March 30, 2008, 9:47 pm
  59. Gretchen, fig jam must have tasted wonderful! The sprinkles on top make it look very festive. Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats

    Posted by Christina | March 30, 2008, 10:24 pm
  60. I love the colored sprinkles on your cake. It’s very pretty.

    Posted by Mary | March 31, 2008, 12:03 am
  61. Orange and fig sounds great Gretchen! Your patience in picking out the purple and orange candies was rewarded – the end result is very pretty and colourful.

    Posted by Cakelaw | March 31, 2008, 1:08 am
  62. I love the decoration@ Purple and orange! two of my favourite colours :D

    Posted by coco | March 31, 2008, 4:56 am
  63. Hey Gretchen! Your cake sounds fab!!! It looks so pretty too!!!

    Posted by ruthEbabes | March 31, 2008, 5:46 am
  64. Great flavor combination you chose, and I like the square shape! Great job!

    Posted by Andrea | March 31, 2008, 6:21 am
  65. Hi Gretchen,Great job on the challenge! I love the colored decorations and the fig idea sounds wonderful.

    Posted by Julie | March 31, 2008, 9:20 am
  66. Hi Gretchen, I love your blog, it’s amazing, I live in Ecuador so it’s great that you mention the substitutes, because here is also very difficult to find speciality goods…The cake looke amazing and i’m going to try it

    Posted by Cristina | March 31, 2008, 9:51 am
  67. You did a fabulous job on your cake. I love all the sprinkles.Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

    Posted by Sheltie Girl | March 31, 2008, 9:56 am
  68. Beautiful Cake¡¡¡¡¡¡I love this colors which has choosed. Teresa

    Posted by TERESA | March 31, 2008, 10:15 am
  69. Nice looking cake!

    Posted by Kevin | March 31, 2008, 10:18 am
  70. It’s very fun and happy looking, so I hope it was a happy cake on that front. I know what you mean about not being blown away by the taste. Those layers are so thin yet perfect – you must have a surgeon’s steady hand!

    Posted by Annemarie | March 31, 2008, 12:57 pm
  71. How festive! Your flavors sound scrumptuous too! Congrats on a beautiful result.

    Posted by Texana | March 31, 2008, 1:59 pm
  72. Your sprinkles say happy to me. What a great flavor combination you came up with. You truly are a daring baker!

    Posted by Cookie baker Lynn | March 31, 2008, 2:22 pm
  73. fig and orange are so wonderful together and your sprinkles are so cute, i’m sorry it wasn’t as good as you’d hoped!i did a mango-lime curd in mine with some lime oil in the batter, and it was fan-fricking-tastic. so definitely give it another go!

    Posted by michelle @ TNS | March 31, 2008, 3:05 pm
  74. You are probably right about the lack of extract making a difference. I never have lemon extract but instead use a bit of lemon juice in its place and find that works out well.I like the square – I think yours is the first square one I’ve seen so far!

    Posted by Jenny | March 31, 2008, 3:31 pm
  75. Pretty cake! I love the sprinkles!

    Posted by Jessy and her dog Winnie | March 31, 2008, 3:50 pm
  76. This is beautiful and I love the colored candies on top..:)

    Posted by Laurie | March 31, 2008, 6:30 pm
  77. The sprinkles make it extra festive. I love your flavor combos! Excellent.

    Posted by Peabody | April 1, 2008, 12:08 am
  78. how pretty. Love the sprinkles. well done

    Posted by Princess of the kitchen | April 1, 2008, 1:15 am
  79. Your cake looks fantastic! I love frosting slathered on and sprinkles…just right for a party :)

    Posted by ChichaJo | April 1, 2008, 7:40 am
  80. MMM! Love the idea of fig jam – must’ve been fantastic with the orange buttercream.Really cute cake – excellent job!

    Posted by kimberleyblue | April 1, 2008, 10:35 am
  81. Super cute cake… I need to take some cake decorating clases with you. Hermoso!!!

    Posted by Madelyn | April 1, 2008, 11:38 am
  82. I love how the sprinkle colors reflect the fig and orange flavors! Perfect!

    Posted by Jenny | April 1, 2008, 1:41 pm
  83. I love that you did something so vibrant and colourful! It looks gorgeous, I am also salivating from the chocolate puddings above! yummy!

    Posted by bbaking | April 2, 2008, 4:17 am
  84. I lloovvveee those sprinkles! Your cake looks so alive and happy :)

    Posted by KayKat | April 2, 2008, 10:04 am
  85. Such a very pretty cake!

    Posted by creampuff | April 3, 2008, 8:46 pm
  86. I love your nostaligic opening notes. A few years ago I realized how much I missed my university and high school social dynamic where people just hung out for no reason. Now it seems like you have to have an occasion, a men. a hostess gift and new shirt for any social gathering…why is that?Like the confetti sprinkles on your cake, too – very festive.

    Posted by Dana McCauley | April 5, 2008, 8:44 am
  87. I love the color-combo of purple & orange – so happy & festive. Sorry to hear it wasn’t as “grand” of a party cake as you would have liked. I love the square shape & would have been over-the-moon if you had baked this for my birthday – what a great friend you are!xoxox Amy

    Posted by familiabencomo | April 5, 2008, 9:14 am
  88. I lvoe the candy on top of your cake and can’t believe that you picked them all out by hand! The fig and orange sounds delicious!

    Posted by Kristen | April 5, 2008, 10:31 am
  89. Love the combination of fig and orange! It reminds me of cuccidati, those yummy fig and orange jam italian cookies :) The sprinkles look very sweet and festive too!

    Posted by Anonymous | April 5, 2008, 11:46 am
  90. Your cake is so festive!! It looks great. I love the idea of figs.

    Posted by Renee | April 5, 2008, 12:07 pm
  91. sorry you weren’t in love w/this cake – i thought it was perfect ;) definitely try it again w/some other variations! i love the sprinkled candies you put on top!

    Posted by Jaime | April 14, 2008, 2:43 pm

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