It's coming! That special day where we grill, drink beer, celebrate our nation's independence and swap stories of childhood traumas involving bottle rockets.
It's also time to drag out that sheet cake smothered in whipped cream and dotted with strawberry stripes and a field of blueberries. I have nothing against this cake. It can be terribly delicious. I'm all for using berries instead of toxic dye to pay homage to liberty, justice and anti-oxidants for all. But sometimes you need to break out the evil stuff to get the party started.
Happy 4th, sweet people! Let freedom and dessert ring!
For the white (and red and blue) cake
14 egg whites
3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
6 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract
blue food dye
red food dye
1. Preheat your oven to 325º
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. Cream until light and fluffy.
3. While the butter and sugar are creaming, place the egg whites, buttermilk and extract in a bowl and whisk. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Once the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, add 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture and then 1/3 of the flour mixture. Alternate between the buttermilk and flour until the batter is smooth.
5. Transfer 2 cups of the batter to a small bowl and stir in 2 to 3 drops of blue food dye.
6. Bake the blue batter in a 6" cake ring sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently poked.
7. Divide the rest of the batter in half. Stir enough red dye into one half of the batter until your are happy with the color (I used 4 drops).
8. Spray four 8" cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment rounds. Divide the white batter evenly among two of the pans and the red among the other two. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently poked.
9. Allow all the cakes to cool completely.
10. Once the cakes are cool, using a very sharp serrated knife level the top of the blue cake. Set aside.
Cut each of the remaining white and red layers into 1/2 inch layers so you are left with 4 layers of red and white cake.
For the buttercream
10 egg whites
2 cups of sugar
6 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and sugar.
2. Place the bowl over a bain marie (a saucepan half filled with simmering water) and whisk until he sugar has completely melted and the egg white mixture feels very warm to the touch.
3. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and whisk until you achieve stiff, shiny white peaks and the bowl is cool to the touch.
4. Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time and whisk until the buttercream thickens and becomes a smooth icing.
1. Place a red layer on a cake platter and smooth 1/2 cup of buttercream in an even layer over the cake. Top with a white cake layer and add another 1/2 cup of buttercream. Continue until you've layered and butter creamed all 8 layers. Place the cake in the freezer for 1/2 hour to set.
2. Once the cake has set, measure the depth of the blue cake layer. Remove the layered cake from the freezer and measure the side of the cake from the top to see how many layers deep the blue layer will sit (mine was 3 layers deep). Take a 6" cake ring and plunge it into the middle of the cake to the depth of the blue layer. Gently remove the middle layers and toss or eat them.
3. Spread a 1/8 inch layer of butter cream along the bottom and side of the newly made cavity and drop in the blue layer.
4. Spread a crumb coat of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake and freeze for 10 to 20 minutes to set the buttercream.
5. Spread a finishing layer of buttercream over the top and sides and then decorate festive gear (I used Chocolate covered sunflower seeds).