Fourth of July Cake

Fourth of July Cake
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. You will need (3) 9-inch layers.
  2. 1 layer col­ored blue
  3. 1 layer col­ored red
  4. 1 layer left white
  5. White Cake
  6. 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
  7. 8 table­spoons (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted but­ter, softened
  8. 1/2 cup veg­etable shortening
  9. 1 table­spoon bak­ing powder
  10. 1 3/4 cup gran­u­lated sugar
  11. 3/4 tea­spoon salt
  12. 2 tea­spoons vanilla extract
  13. 1 tea­spoon almond extract
  14. 5 large egg whites (these should be room temperature)
  15. 2 3/4 cup cake flour , sifted (11 oz. sifted–this is the most accu­rate way to measure)
  16. 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  17. Cream Cheese Frosting
  18. 3 (8) oz. pack­ages cream cheese, softened
  19. 1 cup (8oz.) unsalted but­ter, softened
  20. 1 lb. pow­dered sugar, sifted
  21. 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.
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
Assem­bly
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Keep the cake refrig­er­ated until ready to serve. You can pull it out a bit ahead of time to take the chill off.
  6. 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.
  7. Pre­heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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