Happy Fourth of July!
This is one of my favorite holidays. I'm wildly patriotic and love to celebrate. I love the cookouts, the fireworks, spending time with friends and family. And I greatly enjoy coming up with creative desserts to share with a red, white and blue theme!
Someone recently pointed me in the direction of a blue velvet cake. The blue hue was striking and I thought, "that would be awesome for a July 4th cake!" And so this is what I came up with. The blue didn't come out exactly as bright as I had hoped, but it is still a pretty blue. I didn't have the royal blue food coloring, so I used Cars Blue, left over from someone's birthday cake last year. But like I said, it was still pretty blue, and the taste was great. Like red velvet, only blue. I paired it with a classic white cake, white buttercream frosting and strawberries.
I found the original recipe for the blue velvet cake here.
Blue Velvet Cake
2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup Splenda for baking)
1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp royal blue food coloring1 small dab violet food coloring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp white vinegar
Using a mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each. Mix cocoa powder and food coloring in a small bowl and add to the sugar mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt together. Add flour mixture and buttermilk to the sugar mixture, alternately. Mix in vanilla. In another small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar. Add to cake batter.
Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven when a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans 15 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Classic White Cake (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens)
4 egg whites
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar (I used 1 cup of Splenda for baking)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups buttermilk (or soured milk-add vinegar to sour the milk)
It's worth noting here, and I only just realized this, that I only used ONE cup of sour milk because I was reading the WRONG recipe. *smacking head on the keyboard*
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 round 8" or 9" cake pans, cut parchment paper to fit, and then grease parchment. Sift together dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds. Add in sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add egg whites, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.
Add four and milk to butter mixture, alternately, beating on low speed until just combined after each addition. Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
I needed 1 1/2 of this recipe to frost this cake, this is a single recipe
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar (about 4 cups-although, I actually weighed it this time)
4-5 Tbsp milk
WIth an electric mixer on medium speed, beat shortening and vanilla for 30 seconds. Add about half of the powdered sugar and beat well. Beat in 2 tablespoons of milk. Add in remaining powdered sugar and beat well. Add in as much of the remaining milk to reach the desired consistency (I ended up using 5)
Assembling the Cake
Wash and pat dry 1 pint of similar sized strawberries, along with one large strawberry. Berries should be ripe and firm, not mushy at all. Set aside.
Place two wide strips of wax paper on your cake stand or cake taker. Removing these later will give the bottom of the cake a very clean finish. I chose to layer the cakes white, blue, white blue. On each layer,
spread a generous amount of frosting and place next layer. When all layers are in place, frost entire cake with a thin crumb coating. Allow cake to set for about ten minutes and then continue frosting the cake with the rest of the frosting. There should be enough for a nice thick layer.
Once the cake is frosted, gently remove the wax paper strips from beneath the cake. You should have a nice clean finish. Now it's time to add the strawberries. Hull and slice the similar sized berries in half and arrange all along the bottom edge of the cake. Take the large strawberry and using either a knife or an egg slicer, slice it almost down to the hull, fan out the slices and place it on top of the cake. And you're done!
I hope you all have a fabulous July 4th weekend, wherever you are. And take a moment to appreciate that, despite not being perfect, America is still a pretty great place to be!