It got reaaaalll patriotic up here this past weekend.
I don’t know what happened. I’m usually not the go-nuts-with-red-white-and-blue-for-the-Fourth type. American flag t-shirts, bathing suits and tattoos are just not my thing. Never have been.
But I got the idea to make this red, white and blue layer cake in my head and it had be done. So, I jumped out of my color comfort zone and got baking. I’m so glad I did.
Because how fantastic is this cake? The contrast of the colors is stunning, and the pure height of this thing is impressive on its own. And what’s a more classic American dessert than vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream? Ok, fine, Apple Pie… but vanilla cake is definitely a close second.
If you want to show up to your Fourth of July barbecue with an impressive dessert that has amazing flavor and a serious wow-factor, you’ve found it.
I think I could get used to this Red, White and Blue thing.
Prep time: 15 minutes | Bake time: 25-30 minutes | Total time: 3 hours (including cooling and frosting)
- 4 large eggs (separated) at room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- Red and blue food coloring, if desired
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 6 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 ° F and place racks in center of oven. Grease and flour three 8 inch cakes pans and set aside. Separate egg yolks and whites and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, whip butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add in 1 1/2 cup sugar and whip on medium high for 5 minutes or until light and creamy. Scrape down sides and then, on low speed, add egg yolks one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed to ensure even mixing. Add in vanilla and combine.
On low speed, add in flour and milk in 3 additions, starting and ending with flour. Mix until just combined (do not over mix!). Remove the batter from the bowl and set aside. Clean out bowl, dry completely.
With your whisk attachment and with your mixer on medium speed, whip eggs whites until frothy, then add cream of tartar and increase speed to high. Whip until soft peaks form, then slowly add granulated sugar and whip for another minute.
Divide the cake batter evenly in to three separate bowls and add the food coloring to batter until you have the color you desire (this took a pretty significant amount of food coloring, I’m just saying).
Divide the egg whites evenly in to each of the three bowls and gently fold the egg whites in to the batter until just combined (do not over blend the egg whites and deflate the batter!).
Pour the batter in to your prepared pans. Place the pans on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in to the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove and immediately place in freezer to preserve moisture. When ready, remove cake from pan and wrap in saran wrap and place back in freezer until ready to frost.
For the frosting:
Whip butter on high speed until light and creamy. Add in confectioners sugar slowly (careful, this could get messy!), then add in heavy cream and whip on high until combined. Add milk, vanilla, and salt and whip on high for 5 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy.
On your desired serving platter, place a small dollop of frosting, then place a layer of the cake on top of that. Place about 1/2 cup on frosting on top of the first layer, then add the second. Repeat and add the third layer. Coat entire cake with a thin layer of frosting then place the whole cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and let harden. This is the “crumb coating” and lets you frost the cake without getting all the little crumbs in your frosting.
Finally, use the remaining frosting to frost your cake. Decorate as desired. Store in the fridge but bring it to room temp before serving (this takes about 30 minutes). Enjoy!
Adapted from Sweetapolita.