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Last weekend I tried something new…making the American flag out of cake. It turned out pretty well. I thought I’d share the assembly steps with you today, and a few notes on what I would change about it, as they say, “Live and learn”.
I want to be honest off the bat – I used box cake mix. To be really really honest, I chose the Duncan Hines mix over the Betty Crocker mix because it was cheaper. (This frugal choice ended up being a really good decision – the cake was super moist and yummy.)
To make this cake you will need:
– 2 box white cake mixes (or you could make it from scratch if you feel so inclined)
– an 8” round pan (you will end up making four 8” round cakes, so if you have more pans you can get the cakes cooked right after the others without waiting for them to cool enough to remove from the pan)
– red and blue food coloring
– two bowls (for mixing the batter and food coloring)
– parchment or waxed paper
– cooking spray (like Pam)
– a food scale or measuring cups (I’ll explain this more below)
– a 6” circular template, or bowl (I’ll explain this one more in a minute)
– a pairing or butter knife
– a serrated (bread) knife or a cake saw
– a serving plate
– your choice of frosting (I personally prefer cream cheese frosting)
– a frosting spatula/knife or spoon (some utensil to spread icing)
– decorations of your choice (I used these red, white and blue jimmy sprinkles – the yummy soft kind – and I used a piping bag to add a decorative edge to the bottom and top edge of the cake)
To start you will need to preheat the oven(s) to the temperature mentioned on the box. Then move into preparing the pans. Before spraying the sides of the cake pan with your cooking spray set it on parchment or waxed paper and draw a circle around the bottom of the pan then cut the circle out (on the INSIDE of the line). Spray the edges of the cake pan and give the bottom a shot to hold the cut out circle in place.
Next, you simply need to follow the mixing directions on the cake boxes. Start by mixing just one box.
After you have your batter mixed you will need to divide it evenly into two bowls. You can do this two ways:
– Use a measuring cup to distribute the batter into two bowls a cup at a time.
-Use a food scale to get the weight of a bowl, them put all the batter into the bowl (this can be done before you mix the batter to cut out extra dishes). Note the weight of the bowl with the batter and subtract the weight of the bowl alone – this gives you the weight of the batter itself. Next comes some basic math… for example with mine my bowl weighed 15.6 oz, the bowl with batter weighed 2 lb 13.6 oz (16oz in a pound makes 2lb 13.6oz = 45.6oz), 45.6 – 15.6 = 30/2(for dividing the batter in half) = 15oz per 8” round.
Then use the food scale to add 15 oz of batter to each of the bowls you have set aside.
Despite having a longer explanation, I think the second way is easier, but both will get the job done.
After you have the cake batter divided you will need to add food coloring to them until they are the blue and red color you desire. In the end you will need to have two red cakes, one blue cake, and one white cake.
Repeat the steps above until you have the four cakes cooling.
To remove the cakes from their baking pans run a butter knife around the edges to make sure they are not stuck, then place a plate over the top of the cake and flip it over. Gravity and the parchment/waxed paper at the bottoms should be a big help here.
After they have been turned out peel the paper circle off the top and let them, cool fully.
On to the actual construction part:
Start by cutting the white and red cakes in half with either a cake saw or a serrated knife – you can either do this by eye or use a leftover dish’s lid to keep your layers even (that’s what I did).
Leave the blue one whole.
Set aside three of the red’s layers and one of the white.
Either cut a 6” circular template out of cardboard or find a bowl or cup that you have that measures 6”.
Place the template or bowl on the blue cake (center it the best you can by eye). Use a paring knife to cut around the bowl. Do your best to keep the knife straight up and down so that the hole you are cutting does not end up with sloping sides.
Once you have the bowl traced/the cake cut around it, remove the bowl, then gently remove the outer circle of cake. Set it aside with the layers you set aside earlier.
Repeat the bowl/cutting process with the red and white layers that you did not set aside earlier… when they have been cut put the middle of the two with the set aside layers.
Now the construction really starts!
Place an 8” red layer on your serving plate.
Add some frosting to the top.
Place the 8” white layer on top of the frosted red one.
Add some frosting to the top of that layer.
Place the other 8” red layer on top.
Add frosting again.
Next, add the blue cake ring to the top.
After that add the white 6” circle to the hole in the blue.
Add frosting to the top of the white center.
Add the 6” red circle of cake to the top of the frosted white center.
Yay! You’ve now completed the construction, and you just need to frost and decorate.
Start your decorating with a crumb coat – simply a thin layer of frosting over the whole cake. Let it set for about thirty minutes before continuing.
Next step is to add another layer of frosting (the “naked cake” trend doesn’t really work for this cake design if you want the flag reveal to be a surprise…).
After that you should not be able to see the color of the layers anymore.
The next step is to simply decorate it however you want. You have free artistic license!
I used these red, white and blue jimmy sprinkles on the top and then used a piping bag to add a decorative edge to the bottom and top edge of the cake.
“The proof is in the pudding.” When you cut the first slice your friends, family and guests will be surprised.
When I do this again, I will make the blue layer wider, meaning I will cut out a 5” circle in the middle or even a 4” circle… I felt like this time the blue field was a tad bit too small.
I know the written-out instructions for the food scale method of dividing the cake batter were long, but that is because it is easier to do it than to explain it. If you don’t have a food scale, I would urge you to get one. I have this one. I have used it so much this year, not just for this cake, but I have also weighed all of my tomatoes on it this summer (for keeping track of the harvest in my “Mater Metrics” journal).
If you don’t have a piping kit, you can use a Ziplock bag and cut off the bottom corner – I did that for years. But if you want fancy piping, the tips that come in a kit are essential. This is the kit I bought earlier this year.
I hope you enjoyed this construction lesson. If you give it a try, I’d love to see how yours turns out.