I am endlessly amazed by food. And by people. Especially foodies. And the limitless nature of the imagination when it comes to food. It’s so beautiful.
How serendipitous that cooking and photography compliment each other so well! Nothing inspires me like a gorgeous picture of food. I have books that I likely will never actually cook from, but nevertheless, I pour over them with rapt fascination! Just the images feed and satisfy me somehow!
The internet in regards to food is like a crazy, inexhaustible buffet of eye and mouth candy! It’s almost too good to be true. So much out there to peruse and put to the test! I have a huge computer file of recipes I can’t wait to try, even though it would take me a lifetime and a half to get through them all!
There are some recipes though, that I bookmark in my ‘Put in here so I don’t lose you amongst the hoards of other recipes I have saved’ file.
This is one of them.
I was just so enchanted with Elissa’s Independence Day Cake posted on her 17 and Baking site site that I pushed it right to the top of the ‘PIHSIDLYATHOORIHS’ file. The Fourth of July, being my favorite holiday might have biased me just a little.
I have spent considerable time perusing Elissa’s recipes and implore you to do the same. She’s a prolific baker and blogger, with a very enjoyable writing style. It’s obvious that baking is really something Elissa does for the love of it. She delights in the photography side as well and as a result her pictures fall into the beautiful category.
Elissa was generous enough to agree to our posting of her patriotic pastry.
Hmm…talented and nice!
July 4th Flag Cake
Elissa’s post is really more about the technique than the recipe. You can use any version of white cake you want, boxed or from scratch, although after scrolling through the comments left on Elissa’s post, it sounds as though a denser, heavier cake is easier to work with. I’d absolutely suggest chilling or even freezing a boxed mix cake to help with the cutting. The recipe I used will be at the end of this post.
You will need (3) 9-inch layers.
1 layer colored blue
1 layer colored red
1 layer left white
Bake layers according to recipe or directions. Let completely cool. I make mine ahead of time and wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for a day.
Level off tops of cakes, if needed. I recently began using Wilton’s Bake Even Strips and I can’t believe what a difference it makes! Seriously, it’s unreal!! They insulate the outside of the pan so the outer edge of the cake doesn’t bake faster that the middle, thus preventing domed tops and cracked middles. I actually didn’t level these cake layers at all! I only made the horizontal slices needed to assemble the cake. That is how well they worked for me. Awesome!
One you have your red layer, your blue layer, and your white layer, you will need to slice the red and white layer horizontally with a long, serrated knife. This will be easier if your cakes have been refrigerated and are still cold. Cut them as evenly through the middle as you can. These layers form the stripes of the cake.
Next, take one red half-layer, and one white half layer and stack them on top of one another. Take the whole (uncut) blue layer and set it in front of you. Place the stacked red and white layer on top of the blue layer. Check that they are evenly centered on top of one another.
Using a circle template as a guide, cut a circle exactly centered through all three layers of the blue, white, & red. For this 9-inch cake, I used the plastic lid off the top of a shortening can. It was 5 inches. Try to get as close to this measurement as you can so the color ratio looks right. Cut carefully and thoroughly, making sure you get all the way through all the layers.
Next, separate the blue from the red and white layers. Take the middle out of the blue. You won’t be using the blue circle for this recipe, so set it aside. You now have a donut-shaped ring of blue. This will be the star field of your flag.
Now remove the outside ring from the red & white layers. This is not used either, so set it aside. You should have a 5-inch circle consisting of 1 white half-layer, and 1 red half layer. This will be the top stripes of your flag cake.
Take the uncut white half-layer and center it on a cake circle or cake stand. Spread a 1/8–1/4 inch layer of frosting over the top. Keep it as even as you can. Lay the uncut red half-layer on top of the frosting, making sure it is centered. These make up the bottom two stripes of your flag. Frost like the last layer. Make it as even as you can.
Now take the blue donut circle and center it on top of the bottom stripes layer. Using a small offset spatula or knife, spread a very thin layer of frosting around the inside of the blue ring. You don’t really want to see this layer of frosting, it’s just to help adhere the layers. Plus, too much frosting, and your circles won’t fit inside.
Take the white 5-inch circle and set it carefully, but firmly inside the blue ring. Push it down as far as you dare. You want it as even with the blue as you can get it. Spread a thin, thin layer of icing over the white that is inside the blue ring. Place the red circle on top and press down carefully, trying to make the top layers even.
Now you are ready to frost! The recipe below makes about 5 cups of frosting. You will need all of it for a nine inch cake. Put a nice, thick layer on the outside of the cake. You need to make up for the not-so-much frosting on the inside.
Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve. You can pull it out a bit ahead of time to take the chill off.
Whenever I slice a cake, especially with cream cheese frosting, or ganache, I use a sharp knife that has been dipped in very hot water and wiped dry. It makes very clean cuts. Clean off and re-dip the knife between slices.
Thanks again, Elissa, not only for being generous, but for being inspiring as well!
makes (2) 8 or 9 inch layers–for the Flag Cake, you will need to make this recipe twice, dividing and coloring as directed below before baking
5 large egg whites (these should be room temperature)
2 3/4 cup cake flour , sifted (11 oz. sifted–this is the most accurate way to measure)
1 cup milk (room temperature)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare your cake pans by rubbing a layer of shortening all around the inside. Lay in a circle of parchment int each pan and grease the bottom again. Then tap flour all around the inside as well, tapping out the extra flour. Wrap pans with the dampened Wilton Bake Even Strips. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and shortening until very well incorporated and very light in color. Add the baking powder, sugar, flavorings, and salt and beat another minute.
Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating very well and scraping down the sides in between each addition. This should take about 5 minutes. The mixture will be very light in color and very fluffy by this time.
Next, to incorporate the flour and milk, add about 1/4 of the flour, and then 1/3 of the milk. Add another 1/4 flour, another 1/4 milk and so on, ending up with the last 1/4 cup of flour.
Make sure all ingredients are well incorporated, but take care not to over beat the batter. You just spent a fair bit of time getting the air into the cake, don’t deflate it by being too aggressive.
Split your batter in half and add the food coloring at this time. I made one batch and colored 1/2 blue, and 1/2 red. It will take quite a bit, especially of the red. I use Americolor Gel Paste Super Red, and Royal Blue. I added the tiniest bit of black to each one just to deepen the colors. TINIEST!! To get the white layer you will need to make a second batch of cake, leaving it white. You will have a leftover layer of white cake.
I use a scale again to fill the pans evenly. If you don’t own scales just do your best to make them even. Use a spatula to spread the batter around evenly.
Bake the two layers in the oven for 27–32 minutes, depending on your oven and altitude. The cakes will be done when they spring back to the touch in the middle and barely begin to pull way from the sides. Watch carefully towards the end. It doesn’t take long to over bake a cake, especially one from scratch.
Remove pans from the oven and let cool 10 minutes on a rack. Use a knife to loosen the edges and carefully remove from pans and let finish cooling on a rack. When completely cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and store flat in fridge.
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 (8) oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup (8oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted
Whip together the cream cheese and butter until very fluffy. Add the sifted powdered sugar. I don’t add vanilla to this recipe because I want the frosting as white as possible. You could try other flavors. Elissa added lime zest to her recipe, YUM! This recipe results in a very soft frosting. Try not to let your cake sit out too long in the heat.