Red. White & Blue Cake - Courtesy of 17 and Baking by Elissa Bernstein
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes 3 8” (or 9”) rounds
If you don’t have buttermilk, make it by combining 2 tbsp lemon juice with two scant cup of whole milk for five minutes. Finally you want really soft butter, with the texture of mayonnaise.
3 cups + 6 tablespoons cake flour
1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (scant) whole milk or buttermilk
6 large egg whites
1 ½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 ½ stick (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon pure lemon extract
Gel or powder food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and put a rack in the middle or upper third of the oven. Butter three 8″(or 9”) x 2″ pans and line with buttered parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites and buttermilk.
Cream the butter, zest, and sugar in a mixer on medium speed for a full 3 minutes until very light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon extract, then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, still on medium speed.
Beat in half of the egg-buttermilk mixture, then half of the remaining flour mixture, then the last of the egg-buttermilk mixture, and finally the last of the flour, beating until the batter is smooth. Beat the entire batter on medium high for two minutes until completely smooth and mixed.
To make the cake, you use three layers of the white batter. Using food coloring, one layer is dyed blue, one is dyed red, and the last layer is kept white. Divide the batter in three equal parts (it’s about 9 cups total batter.). Pour one color of batter into one of the 3 prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. Bake 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pans five minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
The three layers are leveled so they are all the same height. Let’s say each layer is 2 inches tall.
Using a serrated knife or cake leveler, slice the red and white layers horizontally in half. So you have a blue layer (2″thick ), two red layers (each 1″ thick ), and two white layers (each 1″thick). Set one white and one red layer aside, those will be the bottom two stripes of the flag.
Stack the blue layer, white layer, and red layer on top of each other. Using a serrated knife, cut a large circle through all three layers. I used a bowl as a guide. Now you have a ring of blue (2″thick), a ring of white (1″ thick), a ring of red (1″ thick), and three inner circles in each color (the blue is 2″ and the other two are both 1″). Set aside the inner circle of blue and the outer rings of red and white and use for a festive trifle or just eat it while still in the kitchen.
To assemble the cake, frost the bottom two layers together – set the uncut white layer on a plate and spread it with frosting. Top with the uncut red layer. Spread the uncut red layer with frosting, then set the blue ring on top. Use a spatula to spread a very, very thin layer of frosting around the inside edge of the blue ring. This will help keep the blue layer and the two top stripes together.
Place the white inner circle on top of the uncut red layer, inside the ring of blue. Frost, and top with the red inner circle. Frost the entire cake and voila, it’s a flag cake!
Whew! Make sense? It’s much less complicated than it sounds, truly. And the result is just too cool!
Update – Some readers made this cake and blogged about it. These two bloggers did a much lovelier job of explaining the cake, with photos/diagrams and everything, so if you found my description confusing, check these sites out: Delectable Deliciousness’s post and A Stove with a House Around It’s post.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes enough to frost and fill this cake
From The Joy of Cooking
16 oz cream cheese
10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Beat the cream cheese, butter, and extract together until combined. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.
Recipe Courtesy of "17 and Baking"