I don’t usually do theme foods; especially those with patriotic theme colors; or at least I haven’t since my children were small and I might have made something fun for their July 4th, Halloween or Christmas school events. But the Food Network theme this week for #SummerSoiree is 4th of July and anything goes so I wanted to share this cake again that I first published a couple of years ago. It was such a smash hit it’s sort of expected on the holiday now and I’m good with that.
The only changes I’ve made? I have new cake pans I love; their sides are totally straight up and down and not slanted like these (still in my car waiting for me to drop that at Goodwill!) and they make frosting cakes so much easier. I also remember to poke my holes a bit deeper…it’s lovely to see the striation go further through this July 4th Red, White and Blue Patriotic Cake.
When I first saw a photo of this cake I thought is was simple and elegantly pretty and I loved that it was made using real ingredients. I have to be honest, a friend that shall go un-named tweeted a link to Pinterest for the cake and said she was making it but was using straight jello; no real fruit, Cool Whip and a boxed cake mix.
That’s really not all that unusual for some of these color extravaganzas but I was more excited to make a recipe from scratch; OK, save for a few grains of jello and a few drops of color, but still much more my style. I enjoy the process of mixing and baking, even if every cake make in our thinner air in Denver is a gamble. Having a cake come out of the oven with a beautiful domed top; just perfect? Not always assured.
For others at high altitude I’ve found through a lot of trial and even more error that ‘typically’ I get good results if I beat the mixture a bit less than specified and then bake it in an oven with the temp raised 10 degrees. That higher heat will see the ingredients that are rising faster get set quicker too and avoid the abysmal ‘fall’ that so often happens at altitude.
I have to bake them a bit less too but no proscribed amount; I usually cut off about 15 minutes and start testing from that point. By the way, despite living at altitude, I make those adjustments for myself; the recipes I include are for people baking at sea level, or what we call ‘flatlanders.’
These photos are from that first effort; I would have gladly taken new ones of the cake I”m making this year except for one problem. I haven’t made it yet! But it’s really not a hard cake to make and still could be done in time for the weekend. What I really love is that just by changing up some colors and garnish, this cake could be perfect for Mardi Gras, Christmas, St. Paddy’s Day, Valentine’s Day; even a birthday cake with the recipient’s favorite colors. Different fruit syrups and different colors and voila, it’s a year round cake! That it tastes SO good is almost a bonus!
When I made this cake I was in between homes and living with neighbors in my old neighborhood waiting for the house I’m in now to be finished. So an event like a July 4th party would see people arrive that I did not know and who might not have been prepared for the ‘missing slice’ – you know the one who is too polite to ask, ‘Why the heck is one slice already cut from what would be a perfectly pretty cake?’ Maybe that’s why I’ve not taken new photos? It is sort of fun to bring something to an event and not have it semi-mangled. Just the whole thing, like normal people. I could try and fit that slice back in but always think it important that I
eat test what I make; you know…quality control and all. I do it for YOU!
I love this country of ours; the land of the free and the home of the brave. Sadly, the US seems to be loved and hated with equal measure around the globe but I can not think of any other place on this planet that I would want to call home. I often wish others could see the real America; not the abrasive politics or the idiotic celebrities but the real common person, the neighbor next door and for me now, the wonderful kids all up and down my street. The land of millions of people who are kind and thoughtful and too often unheralded. It is to you that I wish a Happy Fourth of July. God Bless America…the land that I love.
July 4th Red, White and Blue Patriotic Cake
1 hr 10 mins
For the Cake
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk,room temperature ( I substituted with 1 1/4 cups 2% milk and a Tbsp of lemon juice that I allowed to sit for 5 minutes before mixing)
- 4 extra large egg whites; room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 8 Tbsp (4-ounces) unsalted butter; room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Blueberry Syrup
- 1 cup blueberries
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp berry-flavored gelatin
- 3 drops of blue food coloring
For the Strawberry Syrup
- 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries, hulled
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp Strawberry gelatin
For the Frosting
- 3 Tbsp water
- 2 tsp Knox gelatin
- 3 1/2 cups whipped cream
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- Strawberries and Blueberries for garnish
For The Cake:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round baking pans and set them aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and creamy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and scrape down the sides of the bowl; beat again.
- Add one-third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
- Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
- Add the rest of the milk-egg mixture, beating until the batter is smooth and then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.Let cakes cool completely in the pans on a wire rack, at least one hour.
- Remove cakes from pans and place on a piece of plastic wrap.
For the Blueberry Syrup:
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the blueberries, 3/4 cup water, and 2 Tbsp sugar, partially covered, until blueberries are softened, about 8 minutes.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl and discard solids.
- Whisk berry-flavored gelatin and food coloring into the juices and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
For the Strawberry Syrup:
- In another medium saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the strawberries, 1/2 cup water and 2 Tbsp sugar, partially covered, until berries are softened, about 15 minutes.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl and discard solids.
- Whisk strawberry gelatin into the juices and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
To Assemble the Cake:
- Using a skewer, poke 25 holes in the top of each cake, twisting gently to form larger holes. Pour cooled blueberry syrup over one cake layer.
- Repeat with cooled strawberry syrup and second cake layer.
- Cover cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate until gelatin is set, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. I put mine in the freezer overnight; I think frozen cake layers are much easier to frost.
For the Frosting:
- Make the whipped cream stabilizer by adding the gelatin to the cold water and letting it sit for a minute. Microwave on high for just long enough to become liquid; mine took about 10 seconds then let cool for one minute.
- In a large chilled bowl, beat cream and sugar until soft peaks form; while mixer is running add stabilizer and mix thoroughly to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place blueberry cake, syrup side up, on a platter. Spread 1 cup of whipped cream over top.
- Place strawberry cake layer, syrup side up, on top of whipped cream.
- Spread remaining whipped cream over top and sides of cake.
- Garnish with additional blueberries and strawberries.
I used a serrated knife to smooth the top and sides and an icing tip to decorate the borders with the whipping cream.
Cake can be made and refrigerated or frozen up to two days in advance.
If freezing; remove from freezer one hour before serving.
Source: The Galley Gourmet – Cake Adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, and cookscountry.com
As mentioned, this weeks theme for the Food Network #SummerSoiree is anything goes for the 4th of July so you have a wide selection of great foods to choose from. Salads, veggies, burgers and a bunch of desserts. I’ll see you again tomorrow with a cocktail I think perfect for the 4th. There is bourbon and cherries; don’t miss it!
Feed Me Phoebe: Red Beet Hummus Recipe with Lemony Yogurt
The Heritage Cook: Tangy Caprese Salad with Pickled Cherries (Gluten-Free)
Weelicious: Blue Corn Chip Crusted Fish Sticks with Red Pepper Coulis
The Lemon Bowl: 3 Steps to Perfectly Cooked Sweet Corn
Bacon and Souffle: Red, White and Blue Bark
Healthy Eats: 5 Frozen Treats for a Sweet Fourth
Taste with the Eyes: Dessert for the 4th of July: Elderflower Berry Pavlova
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Best Ever Elk Burgers For The 4th of July
Red or Green: Roasted Sweet Pepper Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Heirloom Tomato Pie
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Summer Raspberry Sorbet
Homemade Delish: 4th of July Cheesecake
FN Dish: Portable Picks to Make and Take on July 4th