Red White and Blue Cake

It's almost the 4th of July and what better way to kick off the holiday than with a patriotic cake?

This recipe starts off with a white cake batter which is split in two and each half is dyed its own color - one red, one blue. The frosting is a homemade buttercream and to stay with the summertime/ patriotic theme, I added a handful of blueberries and strawberries.

I am providing the recipes for both the buttercream and the white cake at the end of this post. The cake recipe will fill two 9x3-inch round pans (or three 9x2 inch pans). To make the bright colors of the cake more dramatic, I cut each 9-inch cake in half horizontally so that I ultimately had four layers. Because the edges of the cake bake faster than the center (and therefore cakes always have a dome on top), each layer was not perfectly flat... you can still have a beautiful cylinder-shaped cake though! -simply add more buttercream around the outside of the cake as you are piecing the cake layers on... so the layers should fit together kind of like Legos and still be parallel to your counter top. Just remember... you can never have too much buttercream! Yum.

Use a piping bag to fill in any holes along the side of the cake and then take an extra large spatula or bowl scraper and slowly wrap the scraper around the cake to even all the buttercream out so you have a relatively smooth side to work with. This works well if you have a cake turntable as it will allow you to circle all the way around the cake without stopping. It does not matter if cake is still showing through the buttercream because you can always cover this up with more buttercream later if you chose to do a basket weave pattern. If you are in search for a turntable, I highly recommend this one as it is non-slip and has a handy-to-reach stopper for those cake decorating moves that you do not want your cake spinning in circles for! (see above image)

Next I added a basket weave pattern to the outside of the cake. I am in the process of creating a basket weaving tutorial but until I am finished with my tutorial, you can find a relatively easy one here. Just keep in mind when doing a basket weave, that you can use any piping bag tip that you want. I used number 21 for this cake. A lot of the tutorials you will find online tell you to use a flat tip but I prefer using a star tip because it gives the basket weave a little more dimension. (see below image)

After completing the basket weave, I covered the top of the cake in buttercream and again flattened it using an extra large spatula. This also works best when using a turntable. Keep in mind with this cake however, that the top does not need to be impeccably flat as it will be covered in strawberries and blueberries! Oh the joys of adding things to a cake which not only make it yummier... but also easier for you to decorate!

The border around this cake is called a shell border. This is honestly a very easy border to make and once I release my tutorial, I hope you will all try this on your next cake! (until then, try this tutorial). It can be very rewarding to find that something so elegant is actually very easy to do! I kept the size 21 tip on for these shells, however there are several different tips you can use for these in order to get different textures.

Lastly, once the basket weave was complete, the top frosted, and the border was, well, surrounding the border of the cake... it was time to make this cake fruity and festive!

Oh and you know how I'm all about local food? Well, these strawberries are from the backyard of my boyfriend's mothers house right here in Minnesota, picked only two days ago... and boy can you taste the difference! You can't get fresher strawberries than that. Thank you Nancy!

White Cake Recipe
10 Tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons) - softened
1/4 cup oil
1-1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
6 egg whites
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons clear vanilla (if you don't have clear vanilla on hand, it's not a big deal, especially if your're dying the batter a bright color as I have done)
2 Tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/4 cups granulated sugar

1.) Prepare two 9x3 inch pans (or three 9x2 inch pans). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.) In medium bowl, lightly beat milk and egg whites together. Add vanilla. In a second bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
3.) In a third bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beat for about 1 minute. Gradually add oil, beat on high for 2 minutes.
4.) Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three phases, alternating with milk mixture - you should start and end with the flour mixture (So, add 1/3 of flour mixture followed by 1/2 of milk mixture, then next 1/3 flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture and lastly remaining flour mixture).
5.) Optional: If you wish to color the batter something other than white: Separate the batter into however many bowls/colors you wish. Using any basic food dye, create the colors you want.
6.) Pour cake batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. (keep in mind that adding liquid food dye to the batter may make this baking time longer as it may have made the batter slightly more runny).
7.) Let cake cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to let cool on cooling rack.

Buttercream Recipe
22 Tablespoons butter (if unsalted, add a pinch of salt to the bowl)
2/3 cup crisco
2 teaspoons clear vanilla
5 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 lbs confectioners sugar (this is typically exactly one bag)

1.) Beat butter and crisco (really blend these two together - I usually blend on high for about 4 minutes).
2.) With mixer on low, add vanilla.
3.) Stream in cream while mixer is still on low.
4.) Blend on high, 3 minutes (should become thick and creamy now).
5.) On low, gradually add confectioners sugar (this step is usually a bit messy... the slower you go here, the less messy the sugar will be for you).

*Tip: if you are using this recipe to frost a cake, you do not want the buttercream to form stiff peaks as this will cause the cake crumbs to come off the cake and into your buttercream as you're spreading it on the cake. If your buttercream is able to hold a stiff peak in the bowl, add 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream and 1 Tablespoon corn syrup and blend. Continue adding these ingredients in a 2-1 ratio until you have the consistency you desire (and don't worry if it gets too runny - just add small amounts of confectioners sugar into the frosting until you get it right!)

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