July 1, 2010

4th of July Cake

Happy July peeps!  Can you believe it?  July...already.  Wow.

It's been a while since I posted a recipe and boy hardy have I found a great one to share.

This is the cake I making for our annual 4th of July celebration this weekend. Isn't it great! I just love how the flag is in the middle of the cake instead of on the top like I usually make. Thanks to Elissa for the fantastic idea!

To start, you can use any white cake recipe that yields 3 layers of cake.  Feel free to use your own or use the one I've posted below.  Whatever works for you.

You will need 3 layers of cake (red, white and blue, obviously). The recipe below makes a 2 layer 9-inch round cake, so I made one and a half batches to get my 3 layers. Instead of making all the cake batter at once, I made the full batch first and once that was done baking, made the half batch. This worked out really well for me as I only have two 9-inch round cake pans and can only fit those two in my oven at a time.

One good thing about this recipe is that the batter is very well mixed - this helps when having to add food coloring to your batter. There was no danger of over mixing and having a deflated cake.

Perfect Party Cake
from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours"

2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk (I used buttermilk)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with non stick spray. Optional - line the bottoms with a round of parchment. If using, also spray the parchment with non stick spray.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest and rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers until well incorporated. The mixture will become moist and very fragrant.

5. Add the butter to the sugar/zest mixture and, using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for a full 3 minutes. Add the lemon extract and 1/3 of the flour mixture; add 1/2 of the milk/egg white mixture and continue to beat at medium speed, then add half of the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the milk/eggs and finish with the remaining flour. Once all ingredients are combined, beat the batter for a good 2 minutes to ensure it is thoroughly mixed and well areated.

6. Pour into prepared pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

White Chocolate Frosting
adapted from foodnetwork

*note: I doubled this recipe to frost the flag cake and had some left over

5 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped fine
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream

1. Melt white chocolate over a double boiler or in microwave. Set aside to cool.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light a fluffly. Slowly add the powdered sugar until well combined.

3. Add the salt, vanilla extract and sour cream and beat until very smooth.

4. Add the melted white chocolate and beat just until combined.
As for how to assemble this cake, Elissa did a great job of explaining it on her blog. I'm going to break it down for you:

1. You'll have 3 cakes - red, white and blue. Using a serrated knife or cake leveler (best bet to getting even layers!) cut both the white and the red cakes horizontally so that you now have two layers of each. Set aside one layer of both the red and the white - these will be the two bottom stripes of your flag.

2. Stack the remaining red and white layers and place the blue cake on top.

3. Place a bowl or any circular guide (approximately 3 or 4 inches in diameter depending on how big you want your blue square to be in each slice) in the center of the stacked cakes. Cut around your guide through all three cakes.

4. Discard (read: eat) the inner circle of blue and the outter rings of the red and white. You will then have an outter ring of blue cake along with two small, round red and white layers. Looks like this:

5. Frost your bottom two layers of cake (red and white) then place your blue ring on top of that; spread a thin layer of frosting on the inner circle of the blue ring. This will help stick the blue and the top two red and white layers together.

6. Frost the middle of the two small red and white layers; being careful to pay attention to the way you've already stacked/frosted the bottom two red/white layers, place the small red/white layers into the center of the blue ring.

7. Frost the outside of the cake. (You may want to use a crumb coat first, to keep your frosting white and crumb free).


Let me know how yours turns out.