March 30, 2008

Perfect Party Cake - Coconut & Kahlua Carob

A March Daring Baker's Challenge: Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

The hostess for this month's challenge is the lovely Morven from Food Art and Random Thoughts, she chose the Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan's book From My Home To Yours. The original recipe for the Perfect Party Cake was given to Dorie by her good friend Nick Malgieri. This is a versatile cake that has a tight crumb and a light fluffy frosting. Dorie's version of this cake is lemon, but it can easily be made in any other flavor that you like.

A week into the challenge, Carrie of Ginger Lemon Girl and I decided to bake together with Esther of The Lilac Kitchen hanging out with us on email. Esther is the proud new Mama of a healthy baby boy and she wasn't up to hours on her feet in the kitchen baking. When I was choosing from the gluten free flours, I wanted the cake to be white so I selected coconut flour as the base and I chose white chocolate for the buttercream. My goal was to create a white cake that was flavorful for my son, who is a huge fan of all things flavored vanilla and white chocolate.

The cake went together easily and rose beautifully while it baked. The frosting whipped up to a frothy foam. I made two smaller cakes and filled one with mixed berry preserves. The recipe made a large quantity of frosting that I swirled around the cake in fluffy peaks.

How did the cakes taste? Overall my family thought the cake was very sweet. Their favorite bites were of the cake without the frosting. They thought that the frosting tasted good, but was way too sweet. My children weren't crazy about the fluffiness of the frosting, they prefer a stiffer frosting.

Since I felt the same way, I decided to bake this cake again and use a different sweetener and make the cake without any dairy as well. Since I had recently gotten an order from Barry Farms that contained some sweet potato flour and sorghum syrup, I decided to use these ingredients as part of my recipe.

I made the second version of the cake for Easter Supper and my family thought it tasted like a mild brownie or chocolate muffin. They enjoyed the texture and flavor of the frosting, it was firmer and lightly sweet. We had agreed that I would only frost the top of the cake, so that there was only a touch of frosting. They liked the flavor of the cake and frosting. My daughter wants me to make this frosting again, since it isn't too sweet.


1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
2 tsp chia seed meal
1 Tb baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup almond milk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup cane sugar
4 Tb vegetable shortening
4 Tb coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup cane sugar
4 large egg whites
8 Tb vegetable shortening
8 Tb coconut oil
8 Tb ghee
1 oz white chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a low sided pan with parchment paper and set out 4 - 5 inch cake rings. Line the cake ring sides with parchment paper for 2 smaller cakes. Or line two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper for 1 larger cake.

2. In a large bowl, dump in the flours, baking powder, sea salt and chia seed. Stir the mixture, until the baking powder is well incorporated.

3. In a medium bowl, pour in the almond milk and egg whites, then whisk them together.

4. In a mixing bowl, plop in the vegetable shortening, coconut oil and sugar. Then beat for 3 minutes on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.

5. Pour in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, continue beating.

6. Beat in half of the almond milk mixture. Next, beat in half of the remaining flour mixture and until it is incorporated.

7. Add the rest of the almond milk mixture until blended and then pour in the rest of the flour mixture. Then beat for 2 minutes on medium speed to make sure the cake batter is well aerated.

8. Divide the batter between the cake rings or the 9 inch cake pans and smooth the tops.

9. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

10. Place the cookie sheet or cake pans on a cake rack and cool for 5 minutes. Slip the cake rings off the cakes and peel off the liner. Place right side up on a cake rack until they are room temperature. (Dorie notes that the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months.)


1. Place the sugar and egg whites into a heat proof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Begin to whisk constantly, making sure to keep the mixture over the heat for 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved and it will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.

2. Using the mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it has cooled, approximately 5 minutes.

3. Add the vegetable shortening, coconut oil, ghee and then beat until smooth.

4. Once the oils are beaten in, beat the buttercream on medium high speed until it is thick and smooth, approximately 6 - 10 minutes.

Dorie's Note: During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate - just keep beating and it will come together again.

5. Then add the vanilla and white chocolate and continue to beat on medium high speed until the frosting is shiny and smooth. Press a piece of plastic on the surface of the buttercream and set aside until you are ready to use it.

Assembling the Cake:

1. Place the first layer of the cake on a cake plate or a cake round. Spread the top of the layer with the Buttercream. If you would like to use a layer of preserves, spread the preserves on first and then gently spread the Buttercream on top.

2. Place the second layer on top of the Buttercream covered first layer.

3. Use the remaining Buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake. Top with coconut or tiny curls of white chocolate.

Storing the Cake:

1. The cake is best the day it is made, but will store in the refrigerator. Cover it very well and bring to room temperature before serving.

2. This cake can be frozen for up to 2 months covered very well. Defrost the cake in the refrigerator.

Sorghum Cake with Kahlua Sorghum Syrup Buttercream


1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup sweet potato flour*
1/4 cup carob
1/4 cup + 2 Tb arrowroot starch
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tb flax seed meal
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sorghum syrup**
2 Tb vegetable shortening, melted
2 Tb cocoa butter, melted
1/2 tsp Kahlua
1/2 cup + 2 Tb almond milk


2 Tb sorghum syrup
2 Tb agave syrup
1 egg white
2 Tb vegetable shortening, melted
2 Tb cocoa butter, melted
2 Tb coconut oil, melted
1/2 oz Enjoy Life! chocolate chips, melted
1/2 tsp Kahlua

Recipe Variation Notes: Cake - I used a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 loaf pan. Buttercream - Step 1: The egg white, sorghum and agave syrup when cooked over the water bath will look like maple syrup and will not thicken. Once it has cooked for 3 minutes, transfer to the mixing bowl and continue with the recipe. Step 4: Beat the frosting for 10 minutes. Then continue with the recipe.

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* Sweet Potato Flour - I purchased the sweet potato flour from Barry Farms.

** Sorghum Syrup - I purchased the sorghum syrup from Barry Farms.


glamah16 said...

The coconut flour sounds interesting. Both versions look great. You really are a alchemist the way you make all your challenges so succesful within your personal guidelines. You need your own Gluten Free Bakery!

BitterSweet said...

Talk about dedication, I'm so impressed that you even made this cake gluten-free, let alone made it -twice-! They both look and sound great though. :)

VeggieGirl said...

Coconut??? Kahlua CAROB??? Not only am I in awe of the fact that you made two versions of this scrumptious cake, but I am quite elated that you made it with flavors that I am absolutely smitten with!! yum!! wonderful work on this month's DBC :0)

Carrie said...

Wow! Great job Natalie!! I'm way impressed!! I had So much fun baking with you my dear friend!! Excellent post and I am so impressed you worked so hard on different versions of this cake! They look wonderful! Can you send me some?? ;-)

L Vanel said...

Very nice combination of flavors on the second cake! Both cakes are really beautiful.

Jerry said...

Great job of converting it! Looks lovely!

Allergy Mom said...

Natalie, you never fail to amaze me. That's some beautiful fluffy cake! Libby

Gail said...

Your cakes look and sound amazing! I love your creative use of ingredients! And I love the flavor combinations! Great job.


Gabi said...

Fabulous job- I'm glad some of the GFDBs got together to bake! Both versions look perfect!

~Amber~ said...

Wonderful job, your cake is beautiful! Congratulations on yet another successful challenge.

Lea Ray said...

Your cake is beautiful. You must be so proud.

Baking Soda said...

They do look delicious, very adventurous flour choice and lovely flavours! I like the fact that your kids can already distinguish and identify flavours and textures, you did a great job!

kitten said...

wow, incredible. both of the cakes sound scrumptious and look adorable. i love the idea of using coconut flour.

Caramella Mou said...

Wow, I'd no idea there were such things as coconut flour. I'm amazed and awed. And looking at the photos, well, scrumptious, truly!
My only experience with gluten-free is some shop-bought Christmas mince pies some 5 years ago and I was not impressed one bit.
Obviously there's so much more to it than I'd imagined.

Well done on both your cakes, they look stunning.


linda said...

Both cakes look delicious! The second is an exciting combination of flavours, yum!

Shellyfish said...

Your cakes are all so beautiful! Bravo! I agree with the frosting being super, super rich & sweet. I used way less butter (6 tbs of non-hydrogenated non-dairy butter) and less sugar, and only frosted the top part of the cake!

Jenny said...

Both your cakes look very pretty!

Tartelette said...

I am always impressed with your interpreatations of the challenges. I bow to you...I would be completely lost!! Gorgeous, both times!

Ben said...

I never thought gluten-free baking could be so much fun, and look at all those delicious looking cakes. I agree with Courtney, you are an alchemist in the kitchen :)

Deborah said...

This just goes to show that this really is a versatile recipe! Great job!

Andrea said...

Wonderful cakes! I saw Kahlua in the post title, and that's all it took. I'm sold! :-)

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Great job tweaking the recipe! The cake looks lovely.

Amy said...

You're so creative! The second cake sounds especially delicious. I'd love to try using sweet potato flour sometime, too. Nice work :)

Amy said...

You're so creative! Both cakes sound delicious, but I'd especially love to try the second one. Nice work :)

Aamena said...

beautiful cakes! am always taken in by your efforts! bravo :)

Aoife said...

Wow, two cakes and no gluten! You're so ambitious -- and accomplished!

Angel said...

Wow both the cakes look beautiful to me. What fun that your family got to taste both. I didn't find the cake to be too sweet, but then again I also didn't use the butter cream, but a whipped cream topping instead.

ruthEbabes said...

Hey your cake turned out real well too!!! Love the icing!

Ruth E

creampuff said...

I'm always amazed at the adjustments you make. Great job!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! Both cakes look delicious and appealing! The first one sounds very promissing...



Meryl said...

Wow--two times even! Your cakes look great!

marye said...

Both versions of the cake look fantastic! And I'm so impressed that you managed to substitute a different kind of flour and still have the cake rise so well. (Mine turned out a bit flat, but it still tasted good!)

KN said...

Wow! I'm impressed with your mixes of flours--it looks great. And I LOVE coconut oil. I'm sure the cake tasted great---coconut is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing with us!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Natalie, The kahlua and carob version sounds (and looks) right up my alley, but the white version is very pretty. Love your gluten-free innovations - they are inspirational.

Claire said...

Congrats on the success of your cake! I love the whipped look of the frosting.

Sheltie Girl said...

Thank you everyone for stopping by and seeing my gluten free Daring Baker Gluten Free Perfect Party Cake Creation. I truly appreciate all the wonderful words of support.

Sheltie Girl