This month's Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Morven, of Food Art and Random Thoughts, and she chose Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake, from her book Baking: From My Home to Yours. You can find the recipe here.
Morven was kind enough to give all us Daring Bakers some flexibility with the flavors for this cake, and I chose to make a lime cake with lime buttercream, with orange-tequila marmalade instead of the raspberry jam.
My first attempt was, for a lack of a better term, a disaster. I accidentally came home from the store with whole-wheat pastry flour, instead of regular cake flour. The cake was grainy and it was almost impossible not to break the layers. For my second try, I followed Dorie's advice to use Swan's Down brand cake flour, which worked much better.
I used a tablespoon or so of lime zest instead of the lemon zest for the cake batter, and vanilla extract instead of lemon, since I couldn't find lime.
Rubbing together the zest and sugar was easily my favorite part of this recipe - it was amazing how much lime scent wafted up while the sugar took on the consistency of wet sand.
After many a Daring Baker had problems getting the cakes to rise, I beat the crap out of the batter once it was mixed. Still, my cakes just barely rose. The finished texture wasn't lacking, though, so I think it's just the nature of the recipe.
To make the tequila-orange marmalade, I just mixed together a small jar (14 ounces, I think) of orange marmalade, a teaspoon of kosher salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and a half a cup of tequila in a medium saucepan, brought it up to a simmer, and cooked it for 10 minutes. Then I transferred it to a mason jar and threw it in the fridge to cool. It's pretty loose, so the syrup soaked into the cake.
For the buttercream, I just swapped lime juice for the lemon juice.
Overall, I wasn't impressed. My boyfriend loved it, but it wasn't my cup of tea. For one, the buttercream was far looser than I would like. For another, I'm just not crazy about fruity cakes. Cakes should be chocolate. Or vanilla. Or hazelnut, or coffee, or mocha, or a million different things. I just don't care for fruity cake. That being said, I would adapt the basic cake recipe for other cakes. To be honest, though, this isn't a cake that I will be making again.