I love making a cake every year for various holidays, and especially loved last year’s 4th of July cake with its feminine, pale blue polka-dotted buttercream, berries and flowers, which King Arthur Baking described on Instagram as “regal and subtly patriotic”. This year, I thought I would go a little more whimsical and colorful with a red, white and blue cake, so I started with one of my more popular recipes, my classic high altitude vanilla cake. The vanilla cake is just an all-around great party cake or birthday cake, exceptionally moist, impossible to mess up, and easily customized with other flavors in your filling or buttercream.
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- 1 Recipe Vanilla Cake
- 1 Batch (x4) Perfect American Buttercream
- Red, White and Blue Sprinkles
- Paper Straws and Tissue Paper
To start, I divided the batter into thirds and colored it red, white and blue. You may wonder why bother with white food coloring, but without it, the white layer would be more yellowish-colored from the eggs and oil, and the white coloring just helps brighten it up. After baking the cakes, the exterior color may look a bit off or muted, but that’s just due to the browning of the outside, and when you cut into the cakes, the colors will be vibrant. Be sure to use gel food coloring for the most vibrant color.
Next, make the buttercream, which I flavored with lemon extract. Keep it vanilla, or flavor it with any extract that you like! Fill and frost the cooled cakes with the buttercream. Be sure to decorate with the sprinkles immediately after frosting the cake, before the buttercream crusts over.
Just have fun, and toss some sprinkles all over the cake. There are so many fun sprinkle mixes out there, and I built my own with a combo of red, white and blue sprinkles of various sizes as well as a few red hearts – followed by a decorative piped edge, if you like.
What makes this cake extra pretty and fun, though, are the paper “candle” toppers. There’s no trick to making them, just cut squares of tissue paper about three inches across, and twist the middle of each square so you can stick it into a paper straw. You can add a little glue, too, if you want them to be more securely attached to the straws. Happy holiday baking this week!
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