Stars and Stripes Cake

The unofficial kick-off to the summer is upon us… Memorial Day. And thankfully it’s shaping up to be a great weekend where I am. Lately every weekend seems to have at least one day of rain or unseasonably low temperatures. Not good for the yard work I have to get done. My lawn is so high that my dog seems to be avoiding walking on the grass when I let him out. Not that I can blame him, certain parts of the lawn seem to be taller than him, he’s a Chihuahua. And he’s a not teacup sized one, he’s pretty average so that should give you an idea of just how high my lawn is. But, my goal this weekend is to get out there and clean things up. Wish me luck! After I am done with the front yard I have to then tackle the backyard. So, are you planning on firing up your grill this weekend and having a BBQ or are you just going to be taking it easy and enjoy that extra day to the weekend? If it’s the former have you thought about dessert? Today I am sharing with you a fun twist on a stars and stripes themed cake that would be perfect. I will say that this cake takes some patience and the ability to forge on when (and if) it doesn’t seem like it’s going to come together. See, the stipes on this cake are vertical as opposed to horizontal. Huh? Yes, the cake layers are rolled together to form the stripes. Are you still scratching your head?

I began by preheating my oven to 350 F. I sprayed a half sheet pan (13 x 18 inches) with baking spray and then placed a piece of parchment paper in the pan and sprayed it with baking spray as well. Now, I do have a cookie sheet this size that I was tempted to use, but, opted not to because sometimes the sheet twists while it’s in the oven and I was concerned that my cake would then spill over or I would end up with a twisted cake. I ended up using this pan. Which I did purchase at my local Target.

After making the batter for the cake I poured it into my prepared pan and baked it for about 18 minutes. A couple of notes on making the batter. Make sure you use a whisk attachment when making the meringue with. I have made meringue before and I have always used my whisk attachment on my stand mixer, but, I was absentmindedly following the recipe and I used my beater attachment and my eggs whites never became meringue no matter the speed or time my mixer was going. Also, while the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of red food coloring, I ended up using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of McCormick’s Red Food Coloring. I started with the tablespoon, but, the cake was looking a little pink and while I knew that the color would gets darker as it sits and as the cake baked I wanted to be sure I ended up with a vibrant red in the end.

Immediately after taking the cake out of the oven I sprinkled it with confectioners’ sugar and placed a cotton towel over the cake. I placed a baking sheet over the towel, bottom side to the towel, and then flipped the cake onto the towel. I carefully removed the pan and parchment paper from the cake. Starting on one of the short ends of the cake I began rolling the cake and towel together into a log.

I then placed it on a wire rack to let the cake cool completely.

While the cake was cooling I made the frosting. I would liken the frosting to a whipped cream cheese frosting. I began by beating three 8oz. bars of cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until it was smooth. With the mixer on low, I then added in vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream. Once the whipping cream was incorporated I increased the speed to high until the frosting was smooth.

Once the cake was cooled I placed it in an extra-large baking sheet to unroll it so I would have room to work. I unrolled it and this is where my patience and perseverance were tested. As is common with rolled cakes, my cake cracked in certain spots. I cut the cake into three long strips, about 4 inches wide each, and then spread frosting on each of the strips. I should have spread more, but since my cake had cracked I was concerned that if I used too much frosting I would have ended up with a big mess.

And now, the fun part. Rolling the cake together. I started by rolling one of the strips together, from short end to short end. I placed that piece on another strip, making sure to line up where the first strip ended with the start of the next strip. I repeated this for the final strip and then turned the cake flat side down on a cardboard cake round to frost.

I frosted the cake with a thin layer of frosting and then refrigerated it for 30 minutes. Unfortunately my cake wasn’t perfectly round due to the seam on the cake. I did my best to fill that seam with extra frosting to make the cake round, ultimately I decided that would be the back of the cake.

After the half hour I finished frosting the cake and used a small offset spatula to give the cake a slightly striped design. Next, I placed three different sized star cookie cutters on top of cake and sprinkled blue sanding sugar into them and I used a straw to spread the sprinkles into the corners of the cookie cutter. I carefully removed the cookie cutters and my stars and stripes cake was done.

And here’s a look inside the cake once sliced.

Overall this cake was delicious. Even though it’s red, it’s not quite a red velvet cake. This cake is much lighter and has a stronger chocolate flavor.

 

Stars and Stripes Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

8 large eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup canola oil

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 

For the Frosting:

3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 cups heavy whipping cream, cold

Blue sanding sugar, for decorating

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 13 x 18 inch baking sheet with baking spray, line with parchment paper and then spray the parchment paper with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar and salt. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in 1/2 cup of sugar. Increase the speed to high and continues whisking until stiff shiny peak form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the meringue to a bowl and set aside.

Using the beater attachment on your stand mixer, beat the egg yolks, vanilla extract and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in the same bowl you used for the meringue (no need to clean) on high speed until double in volume. Beat in the water and canola oil.

Sift the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and then stir together until just combined.

Add in the food coloring and beat on high speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Stir a dollop of the meringue mixture into the batter and fold in using a rubber spatula. Add the remaining meringue and continue folding together the two until no white streaks remain.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and using an offset spatula spread the batter evenly in the pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Once out of the oven, loosed the edges of the cake with a knife and dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Place a cotton kitchen towel over the cake and then place another baking sheet on top of the towel.

Flip the cake onto the towel and remove the pan and parchment paper. Starting on the short end roll the cake and the towel together into a log. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools make the frosting. In a bowl beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth. With the mixer on low add in the vanilla extract and whipping cream. Once incorporated, slowly increase the speed to high and continue beating until smooth.

Once the cake is cool, unroll the cake on a large baking sheet. Divide the cake into three long strips, about 4 inches each. Spread an even layer of frosting on each of the strips, use about 1/3 of the frosting. Be sure to frost under the curled ends as well.

Roll one of the strips into a tight spiral. Move the spiral over to the next strip. Make sure to line up the ends, and then roll the cake into a fatter spiral. Move this piece over to the last strip, once again lining up the ends, and roll the cake into a large spiral.

Turn the cake flat side down onto a cake cardboard or a cake platter. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake. You will need to use more frosting to cover up the seams. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Finish frosting the cake with the remaining frosting.

Place different sized star shaped cookie cutters on top of the cake and sprinkle blue sanding sugar inside the cookie cutter. Use a small brush (or straw as I did) to spread the sugar into the cookie cutter. Carefully remove the cookie cutters and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Recipe from Food Network

Patriotic Treats

Hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day and enjoyed the rest of the holiday weekend! Mine was filled with great food, great friends and a delicious and patriotic dessert.

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Before I get to that amazing cake though, here are some patriotic cupcakes that I made earlier in the week. They were simply a yellow cupcake with a vanilla frosting – sometimes there’s nothing better than a classic combination. To create the striped icing effect I brushed the inside of a plastic decorator bag with red food gel coloring on one side and blue on the other after fitting it with a 1M Wilton Tip. I then filled the bag with vanilla frosting and began piping each of the cupcakes. Once I ran out of frosting in the bag I simply brushed the colors once again inside the bag and then filled it with more frosting.

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Now, onto the cake. Prep work for this cake actually began a week before July 4th. I made the glitter stars that topped the cake by rolling out gum paste 1/8″ thick and used varying sizes of cookie cutters to cut out stars. After snipping 22 gauge silver floral wire into different lengths I dipped one end into egg white and gently pushed that end of the wire into the stars about 3/4 of the way up. I laid the stars out on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let them dry out (harden) for a full day, flipping them occasionally.

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After they were completely dry it was time to decorate them. To do so, I brushed the stars with egg white and then sprinkled glitter on them, making sure that I covered the edges of the stars as well.

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I let them sit out for a day or two to make sure they were completely dry and then stored them in a waxed lined plastic shoe box.

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To make the actual cake I began by baking the red velvet layers of the cake – 2 of them. I’ve made red velvet cake quite a few times before and this recipe was quite different than the ones I have normally followed. For one thing, instead of buttermilk this recipe called for sour cream to be whisked with water to thin it down to the consistency of buttermilk. I’ve heard of using lemon juice and milk as a substitute for buttermilk, but never sour cream. I was fine with this though as I usually have sour cream in my fridge as opposed to buttermilk. Also, this recipe called for butter and oil to be used, which turned out an incredibly moist cake. After making the batter I divided it into two 9-inch pans tapping the pans down to release any air bubbles and then baked them in a 350 F oven for twenty-five minutes.

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Following that I let the cakes cool in the pans for about ten minutes and then inverted them onto wire racks so they could cool completely.

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While the red velvet layers were cooling I baked the white cake which had a hint of lemon thanks to the addition of lemon zest. Once I made the batter I poured it into a 9-inch pan that I sprayed with baking spray and lined with parchment paper – which I also sprayed with baking spray. I did this same prep work for the pans I used for the red velvet layers as well. As I also did with the red velvet layers, I tapped the pan down to release the air bubbles and baked it in a 350 F once again for twenty-five minutes.

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After cooling the cake in the pan for a few minutes I inverted it onto a wire rack so it could cool completely.

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Once the cakes were cooled it was time to make the frosting – cream cheese frosting – and assemble the cake. I spread about a cup of frosting between each of the layers…

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And then crumb coated the cake and placed it in the refrigerator so the frosting could firm up.

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Once the crumb coat was firm I finish frosting the cake and created a design on the cake by using the back of a spoon. While rotating the cake on a cake turntable I ran the back of the spoon along the edge of the cake and around the top.

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And then it was time to decorate the cake with the glittered stars and some fresh berries – blackberries, blueberries and strawberries.

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And how did the stripes look once the cake was cut into…. Perfect!

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This was definitely one cake that tasted just as good as it looked!

Red, White and Blue Cake

Red Velvet Cake Layers:

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)

1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 1-ounce bottle red food coloring

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1/4 cup water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, then line bottoms with rounds of wax paper. Butter paper and dust pans with some additional flour, knocking out excess.

2. Resift cake flour together with cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

3. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer (fitted with paddle attachment if using stand mixer) at medium-high speed until combined well, then add oil and beat until very pale and creamy, about 3 minutes.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla extract.

5. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and sour cream mixture in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mixing until batter is smooth.

6. Divide batter between pans (about 3 cups in each) and smooth tops. Rap pans on counter a couple of times to expel any air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a wooden pick comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pans, 25 to 30 minutes. Keep oven on.

7. Cool layers in pans on racks 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pans. Invert layers onto racks and peel off wax paper. Cool layers completely.

White Cake Layer:

1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large egg whites

1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 2 tablespoons water

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Butter one 9-inch round cake pan, then line bottom with wax paper. Butter paper and dust pan with some additional flour, knocking out excess.

2. Resift cake flour together with baking soda and salt into a bowl. Whisk egg whites in another bowl with sour cream mixture until combined.

3. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer (fitted with paddle attachment if using stand mixer) at medium-high speed until combined well, then add oil and beat until very pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in zest and vanilla extract.

4. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and sour cream mixture in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is smooth. Transfer batter to pan and spread evenly. Rap pan on counter a couple of times to expel any air bubbles.

5. Bake in middle of oven until a wooden pick comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from side of pan, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan. Invert layer onto rack and peel off wax paper. Cool layer completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 1/2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (20-ounces total), softened

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Beat together cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixture until creamy and smooth. Beat in lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt.

2. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and add to cream cheese mixture. Mix on low speed until incorporated, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until smooth.

Frost cake:

Brush loose crumbs from cake layers with a pastry brush.

Put a red velvet layer, bottom side up, on a cake plate or stand. Spread 1 cup of frosting over layer. Cover with white layer, bottom side up, and spread with another cup of frosting. Top with second red velvet layer, bottom side up.

Spread a thin layer of frosting around sides and over top of cake. (This is called crumb-coating. It tamps down any loose crumbs to keep them out of the top layer of frosting and fills in any crevices. This is particularly important with red velvet cake layers.) Chill or briefly freeze cake just until frosting is firm.

Spread sides and top of cake with remaining frosting. Chill or briefly freeze cake just until frosting is firm.

Fruit Topping:

1 pint (8 ounces) strawberries, halved

1 pint (12 ounces) blueberries

1/2 pint (6 ounces) blackberries

Toss fruit together in a bowl, add a teaspoon of sugar if desired. Top cake with fruit and spread some around the sides of the cake.

For a complete list of supplies and a more detailed description of how to create the stars check out this link. I’m planning on using this technique to create other shapes for cakes in the future.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

While it is safe to say we all like a dessert that will create a moment of utter bliss when we take that first bite, there are those times that all we want are tried and true classics that evoke nostalgia for a certain time and/or place or simply cannot be beat – i.e. a chocolate chip cookie, a yellow cake (or cupcake) with chocolate frosting or a chocolate cake (or cupcake) with vanilla frosting and more recently red velvet!

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I cannot say for sure what makes Red Velvet so special. Is it the bold red color? The flavor that is somewhere along the lines of chocolate thanks to the addition of cocoa powder? Or maybe it’s the creamy cream cheese frosting? Who knows, all I know is that it’s delicious!

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I began making the cupcakes by beating together butter and sugar until it was light fluffy.

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In then mixed in eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract and a fluid ounce of red food coloring, which essentially gives this cake its name. But, I should note that there are recipes out there – like this one and this one –  that use beets instead to obtain that vivid red color. One more thing, if you wanted to make a red velvet cake in other colors you could simply just swap out the red food coloring for whatever color you wanted; i.e. a purple velvet cake, pink velvet cake, green velvet cake, etc…

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By hand I then stirred in baking soda and vinegar and finally flour, cocoa powder and salt which I had combined in another bowl.  I chose to incorporate these ingredients into the mixture by hand so I wouldn’t accidentally overbeat the batter which would turn out dense and dry cupcakes as opposed to the light and fluffy ones these turned out to be.

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I then divided the batter among paper lined cupcake tins and baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for twenty minutes.

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After the cupcakes had cooled it was time to frost them. I opted to frost them with a Cream Cheese Frosting as I think it’s the best flavor to enhance the flavors of the red velvet cake. I have had them with buttercream frosting and it’s just not the same.

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I also sprinkled a few of the cupcakes’ with red velvet cake crumbs and they turned out tasting just as good as they looked!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 20 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 fluid ounce red food coloring

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with 20 paper baking cups.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.

3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When completely cooled frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium bowl cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, and then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.