The outside of this cake was gorgeous but the unexpected treat awaited inside. The first cut revealed layers of blue and red velvet sandwiched between cream cheese frosting. Two summers ago, when Seals officially became an American citizen, we celebrated with a huge patriotic party in our back yard. Through Seals’ naturalization process, we saw the best of the American spirit as friends and family came out of the woodwork to help us celebrate.
Our friend Kathy, who writes the blog Stresscake, offered to make a flag cake. Per norm, she took it over the top. With over 70 guests attending, she made a half sheet cake. Neat rows of picture perfect raspberries were divided by piped cream cheese stripes. Carefully placed blueberries sat atop the nearly 4 inch high beauty. As she carried her masterpiece into our backyard, the crowd parted making way for the flag cake of all flag cakes.
As we gathered a knife and utensils to cut the cake, one of our 5-year-old guests announced that he had recently learned the words to the national anthem and thought this might be an appropriate occasion to sing it. We concurred. After the crowd quieted, we noticed that the little fellow had taken a stance in front of the cake, shoulders back, chin up, ready for song. He led the group in a stirring rendition of our national tune. Just writing about it plucks our patriotic heart strings again.
As if the fruit decor, mounds of cream cheese frosting and unexpected anthem were not enough, we were in for the final surprise. Cutting into the cake revealed that Kathy had layered up red & blue velvet cake with additional cream cheese frosting. Fireworks of excitement buzzed through the crowd. The flavor was delectable, the design impeccable and the love contagious.
With 4th of July just around the corner, we thought you might find some inspiration from Kathy’s cake. Despite the many problems this country has, we are so thankful for all of our freedoms and opportunities. And, we are thankful that our lives are filled with the type of people who love awesome parties, who teach their kids to proudly sing the national anthem and who make the best flag cakes of all time.
FOURTH OF JULY CAKE – a.k.a THE RED WHITE AND BLUE CAKE
Compliments of Stresscake
The recipe below makes one standard layer cake – a 10” cake, about 20 cupcakes, or one commercial half sheet cake. I’ve given an outline for the flag cake, as I made it, at the bottom of this post. You’ll need to make this cake recipe 3x – 2 red, 1 blue – plus 6x the cream cheese icing recipe, also below. If you’re using a different pan for a smaller cake, adjust accordingly. For the blue, I was unable to find 1-ounce bottles so I used a royal blue gel color (like Spectrum or Wilton) and added it until I got a bright blue hue.
RED (OR BLUE) VELVET CAKE
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (sift then measure) – or 8.25ounces if that’s easier
2 1-ounce bottles of red food coloring (or royal blue gel color added until it looks nice and bright)
Preheat oven to 350°F and place a rack in the bottom position.
Prepare your pan – Spray the pan sides with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa, salt, vinegar and vanilla – set aside.
In a 2 cup measure or bowl, combine the buttermilk and baking soda – make sure you use a large enough measuring cup or bowl as the mixture will foam a bit.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium-high until very light and fluffy – about 5 minutes.
On low, add the cocoa/vinegar/vanilla mixture and mix until combined. On low, add the cake flour in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk/baking soda mixture. Mix until just combined.
Scrape the bowl then on low, add the red (or blue) color and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake top is firm and a toothpick inserted just off-center comes out clean with moist crumbs – 25-30 minutes for a 10” pan and about 20 minutes for a thinner sheet pan.
Let cool, in the pan, on a wire rack for 10 minutes then turn out onto the rack to cool completely. Note: with the thinner sheet cakes, let cool completely in the pan (turning out to cool is a messy nightmare.)
CREAM CHEESE ICING
Makes enough for a 10” 3-layer cake. For the half sheet flag cake, multiply x6.
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted (measure then sift) or 10 ounces if that’s easier
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high until smooth and well combined. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. On low, slowly add the sifted powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.
This icing is very silky and smooth – and difficult to work with if too warm. If needed, pop the bowl in the fridge to chill.
WANT TO MAKE THE EXACT CAKE YOU SEE IN THE PHOTOS ABOVE? YOU CAN!
Follow Kathy’s detailed instructions on her blog here.