Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Frost Cupcakes like the Badass You Are.

I think I would've signed up for a lot of Wilton decorating courses if they could come up with better titles. Instead of "Cake Basics Level 1," something like "Become the Envy of Fellow Housewives" or "This Won't Help Your Waistline, but Yoga Pants Are Stretchy Anyway" probably would be both more humorous and accurate. So instead, I turn to my dear friend Pinterest to give me tips and ideas. I do refer to Pinterest as an actual being because referring to it as "just a website" with the obscene amount of time I spend with it would make me seem like a giant loser that no one loves. So not true. I'm a giant loser a few people love and that is mostly thanks in part to how good Pinterest had made me at caking.

I've been eyeing dying techniques the past few weeks and finally took the plunge to make cupcakes for our roofers. Yes, my mother asked me to make cupcakes for the roofers while our house gets her hair redid (today is turn inanimate objects into people day, thank you for noticing). This may sound strange, but my mother's logic is infallible. Give them things like donuts and coffee in the morning and cupcakes after lunch, and the quality of the work goes from shoddy to down right grateful. We're the dream house for the service trade. Back in Texas, she would leave out holiday cards and flats of Cokes for the garbage men. We were the only house on the block whose trashcans would not only be placed upright back into the container area, but they also even put the lids back on. She probably cut some deal with UPS too, because I've never lived anywhere else where my UPS packages arrive at like 8 a.m. Magic.
My cupcakes bring all the roofers to the yard...
These cupcakes are the embodiment of summer. They look like summer. They taste like summer. They smeeeellll like summer (because they're lemon cupcakes with homemade vanilla almond frosting). So leave it to me to make summer's perfect cupcake when it has only been hovering around 67 degrees outside. Not that I'm complaining, I'm going to melt to death when I go home next week, so enjoy my witticism before my fingers disintegrate. I'm not even sure that's strictly a first world problem, either.
I wish my oven light worked...
I forget you can take cool pictures of things baking when your oven light works. Mine at home never has, and since we've lived there for a few years already, probably never will. I'm also still not sure what half our light switches do, and my husband constantly seems to be turning the wrong lights on, so you see how intimately familiar we are with our humble dwelling... Let me break down this ridiculously awesome swirled frosting technique (try not to insert chocolate and vanilla swirl Orange is the New Black reference here. If you're still not watching that show, I'm sad for you).
Haha, look who forgot to rotate the camera...
Lemme get all serious on how to perfect your badassery here for a need a paintbrush for this and you have to use gel frosting for this to work or you'll end up with runny dye that combines colors and makes your cupcake tops end up looking like puke. Or worse, the color orange. I really didn't learn this by mistake. It is so messy to make frosting from scratch, I wasn't ruining that ish. Now, back to your regularly scheduled sarcasm.
Bonus- you don't even have to paint in straight lines!
Take some Saran wrap and fold it in half. Pick a few gel colors, or all the gel colors of the rainbow if you're a hippie (judging), and paint about an inch-wide stripe of each color, alternating as shown above. I used yellow and pink dyes, which look very dark, but as they transfer to the frosting, will fade some. I feel so Martha Stewart-y right now, minus the jail time.
I swear these aren't mashed potatoes.
Once you've painted on your gel frosting (I really can't stress this gel business enough), plop down a hearty portion of your favorite white frosting recipe. Not to be racist? colorist? against other frosting types?, but you want a white frosting that is so pure as the driven snow it would've been Hitler's favorite frosting. I know, even I felt bad about that reference, but you totally understand how white that frosting should be now so that your dye color isn't compromised. The frosting doesn't have to touch all your stripes, probably just most of the middle two.
Duuuude, this is totally stellar.
You'll then roll your Saran wrap around the frosting (like a giant doobie if you're going hippie route, still), and make sure one end of the loose wrap is long and skinny (this would be the end of the doobie you'd want to light) before placing twist-ties on both ends to keep the frosting in. Don't be like me (ever, really, but particularly in this instance) and use too much icing so it ends up being too fat to fit in the piping bag; like anyone over 23 trying to fit into their clothes from high school, this is just a sad circumstance with no easy solution.
Pictured: The piping bag version of a muffin top.
Eventually I managed to cram my Saran wrap bag of frosting into my empty piping bag fitted with large coupler and 1M tip. It was like trying to fit my foot into a shoe size two sizes smaller than my own large boat feet are used to, but I made it work. I then took that long end of frosting that was twist tied, and cut off right above the tie to open my Saran wrap up. You can see how the dye is starting to mix in with the frosting above.
Regard the hedgehog t-shirt telling you to "Stay Sharp,"
because you really should, my glorious reader.
Once my bag was full, I simply started in the middle of the cupcake and swirled outward until my rosette was complete. This will leave you with rosettes that contain beautiful stripes of colors. I did this for all 24 cupcakes, and had to make a new bag of frosting for the last 12. Ahem, we may or may not have kept about 6 to 10 of these for our own greed  good. This may or may not be why I know these cupcakes taste, smell, and look like the embodiment of summer. And no orange bleed! I really hate the Chicago Bears, guys. I mean, they're the lesser of two evils when comparing my hatred of the Bears vs. the Packers in my conference, but, the color orange...go away.
End result: Non-orange, gorgeous swirl.
I meant to blog about this much earlier today, but my mom and I started a puzzle. Not online, but in honest-to-God real life. You know what's a great activity for two type-A, OCD-compulsed people? No, not therapy, you moron, a puzzle. Organizing pieces and putting everything into place made us collectively sigh a contented sigh of perfect happiness.
Oh the joy, people!
I am sad my time here has almost come to an end, but it has been a very enjoyable one for both of my fur babies and me. Now excuse me while I go nom on some of our leftover tasty cupcakes so I can eat my feelings while feeling a conflicting sense of joy over how good these turned out. Til next time, my fellow eaters!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Basketweave by a basketcase. See what I did there?

I actually bled for my art when crafting the cake for this blog. I'll make this week's edition of "guess which common, everyday item tried to kill Kate" easy on you- it was the foil lid on a can of decorator frosting. You know what's truly evil and reminds you hell is real? Foil paper cuts. Before you shake your head and wonder how that's even remotely possible, just know that when you're as accident prone and talented as I am, it overlaps into some strange Venn Diagram where things like this are not only in the realm of possibilities, but will most likely happen to you at least once a year for the rest of your existence. I have a half-inch, perfect V-shaped foil paper cut on my left thumb. As a left-handed individual, this has made even the smallest of tasks like shampooing my hair or trying to zip up a pair of jeans a rather obnoxious and annoying reminder that I should probably live in a baby-proofed bubble. How that foil lid jumped up and bit my thumb like a rabid bunny or some other wild creature who's acquired a taste for human blood (geese, clearly), I am not sure. But it was a bleeder, and it left a deep gash. Luckily, the end result was worth it (and blood-free, thank you):
Ahh, the tastiest basket of roses ever.
About seventy-five years ago (or a few weeks, who's counting), I blogged about wanting to do a basketweave cake with these awesome vintage tips my mother-in-law mailed to me that have been in the family for quite some time. So thanks to Jan (and my ability to remember to actually bring them on my escape journey from New Mexico up to Michigan), my family is reaping the benefits of her sending them with this scrumptious chocolate cake.
This tip isn't even in production anymore...God I love feeling elite. I also love polka dots, FYI.
Since my parents have retired, they have put their house up on the market and are shuttling things in between here and their final destination (rereading this I realize it sounds like they've decided on a nice mausoleum somewhere, but trust me, they're still very much alive and kicking regardless of the amount of baked goods I've been showering our collective cholesterol levels with). Due to the flux between old home and new home several states over, my mom has packed up any unnecessary kitchen equipment and they've hauled it off to I was without some of the tools of my trade and had to make a couple quick compromises when baking my basketcake (name sticks). I had to use some disposable cake pans that had a scalloped-edge design which I thought would be neat, but turned out to make my cake look sort of like it was baked and then thrown across the room.
It had a slight lean...and this was after trimming the edges to even things out. Oy.
I thought perhaps a quick crumb coat would put me at ease. Know what's not easy to frost? Tiny little nooks and crannies. Know what has lots of tiny little nooks and crannies? Scalloped-edge cakes. I'm happy to say I persevered (obviously, or you wouldn't be reading this), and crumb coated the cake. It looked a little less "leany..."
Thank you chocolate, for making everything look good when you're draped across it.
After the standard freezer cooling time, I removed my cake from the freezer, filled a piping bag with chocolate decorator frosting (this can didn't bite me), and got ready to work. Note- I totally forgot I was even decorating a cake because I was hungry, big surprise, so this actually sat in the freezer for like an hour. Whoops. The basketweave technique itself is not hard, just very time consuming. Which is totally why you should do this on a full stomach. I can pretty much justify anything, and I realize I probably should've become a corporate lawyer.
Straight lines? We don't need no stinkin' straight lines! Well, sort of, anyway.
What you do with this technique is pipe a vertical line down your cake, like above. Then you pipe short horizontal lines over that vertical line from top to bottom. Or bottom to top I suppose if you're one of those people. By those people, I mean the kind that don't listen to me. I'm raising my eyebrow at you at this very moment. The next step is to pipe another vertical line over the very end of your short horizontal lines. This will leave little "spaces" in between your piping:
On your far right, you can note said space. Unless you're still choosing not to listen to me,
in which case, go read the news or something, you weirdo.
Take your piping tip, bury it in the space, and now you will fill the space in with frosting while dragging your piping bag over the outer vertical line. This sounds confusing, but note how happy (for someone with bitchy resting face) I look at the repetitive motions:
Why, yes, I do like to think of myself as the poster child for monotonous tasks.
So I continued to do this while happily thinking how much sense life makes when its drawn out in vertical and horizontal lines. I got the different textures because one side of my tip was grooved, and the other was flat, so I alternated grooved vertical lines with smooth horizontal ones. Not sure if a new tip is being made with double features or if I'm still just supremely elitist. After a few breaks to relieve my hands (if I was a robot, this would be so much easier), I ended up with this:
One basket of cake, coming right up!
You know how I feel about naked cake tops, so I decided my Basketcake TM needed to be filled with roses. Because roses with a 1M tip are the most supremely easy thing in the world to do, and again, not a robot, just act like one, my hand hurt really badly. Little did I know things were about to get much more painful. Ahh, ignorance, you stupid little harlot. After the carnage of opening the new can of decorator frosting left me bloodied and wondering if I could start my foray into robotics with a bionic thumb, I mixed my frosting with purple and pink dye:
Pictured: 1M tip, loads of frosting.
Not pictured: Maimed thumb.
Then I swirled roses on to the top of my cake. My mom didn't believe me when I said roses are truly foolproof until she saw me in action. Nothing like seeing your bandaged child somehow managing to make it through the struggle and come out on the other side, right? I'm not over exaggerating, it really freaking hurt. She wanted to stitch me up. My mom always wants to stitch everything up. God rest her soul (again, I promise she is still alive).
End result: worth the pain.
It was really awesome to get to decorate a cake with my mom rooting me on from the side lines. Should I ever open a cakery, I'm going to hire her on as a full-time cheerleader. Cakeleader? Baked-goods booster? I got nothing for this one. I'll probably also hire my stepdad on as a full-time cake sampler. That man appreciates a good cake with such zest, I have no doubt in my mind I where I got it from. Needless to say, the cake only looked like this for a few minutes before we cut in to it:
Think you're safe in that glass case (of emotion)? Guess again, Basketcake TM.
We're still only halfway through with this cake and I'm already plotting up some pretty cupcakes for next week, so we'll see how that goes for both mind and stomach. Til next time, my fellow eaters!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cobbler: Its Cake Adjacent.

I know my fellow eaters, it has been awhile. But it is really hard to maintain my usual level of snark and sass when I am literally living in greener pastures for the time being. Michigan, I certainly don't remember you being this lovely when I lived here several years ago..then again, surviving living somewhere in the Southwest where it is brown and smells like cow dung all the time can definitely change a person's perspective on the Midwest. It has been 70 here for no point have I felt like bursting into flames was even a remote  possibility and it is mid July! I get to sleep with the windows open without being assaulted by the Eau de Cow Patty scent I mentioned earlier, and take my dog for long walks on the gorgeous golf course- usually in a warm jacket- while I wonder whether or not it is even possible for foliage to actually be this green, or if they put something in the water here. You know, because there is actually water here. Don't even get me started on civilization...I forgot that Old Navy was even a thing anymore until I got up here and nearly had a heart attack (thanks for all the clothes, Mom!!). Needless to say, I've been on cloud nine, so being snarky and witty is really hard. That's what she said. Okay, so I haven't totally lost my mojo.

My parents have made us feel more than welcome to come home and crash until sometime in August when I absolutely, positively have to go back to the suck for work. Hank is, as anyone who knows Hank would expect, the king of the castle here, and well, the hedgehog still hates everything but loves no longer having dry skin. But as a form of payment for all the cool neat things my folks keep taking me to go do while we're here, I've been baking. Baking up a damned storm. The day after I got here, I made a huge batch of peanut butter pudding cookies and lemon drop cookies (the hubster also got a large care package of each) as a "Thank you for helping my sanity by allowing me to escape the desert" present. But since I've already shown you how to make those, I was waiting to blog about something new. Cue the segue...
Presentation is key, people!
So, I get up to the Midwest and the first thing I want is something from the South. Coincidence? No. You see what my poor husband has to put up with? It is a really good thing I come from a good-looking gene pool and I am handy in the kitchen. Anywho, once I got up to the Big D (Detroit in this case, not Dallas),  I immediately started craving cobbler. Because I always want what I cannot have. Looking at you, Corvette Stingrays, Alexander Skarsgard, and perfect skin. Ahem. Luckily, Pinterest is still a thing up here in Michigan. I know, I talk about it like it is another country. But that's because I'm further north than parts of Canada right now, so to me, it is. I'm going to carry on with this theme later, but first let me give you a quick run down on this cobbler. It is so crisp on the outside and melt-on-your-tongue moist on the inside that your taste buds will have no idea what's going on, but they will love it.
The line up...

Like any good anything that ever existed and could be thrown into an oven, you're gonna need a buttload of butter for this recipe. Twelve tablespoons to be precise- four to place in your 9x13 baking dish, which you want to throw in the oven while it preheats to 350 to melt that deliciousness, and the rest to be melted and whisked in (not off to a tropical paradise) with the 1 1/2 cups of flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, and 1 1/2 cups of milk.
Get ready to throw that yummy goodness in your mixing bowl.
And whisk away like your life depended on it.

So that is the "crust" portion of your cobbler. For this cobbler, I went with a blueberry filling. My mom is weird (I totally get it from her, and I love it), and doesn't care for peach cobbler, otherwise I would've gone with that. So, should you also have a family member who feels like the only good peach is Princess Peach from Mario, get yourself a 16 ounce bag of frozen blueberries (or whatever other fruit) for this cobbler. Throw them in a bowl, carefully, might I add...otherwise you're gonna end up with purple fingers, and unless you're a hardcore Vikings fan like me, that might mean you're gonna have a bad time. Don't read that last part if you're a Packers fan. Handle those blueberries as much as possible...that purple will wash out instantly, I promise...

Then take a bowl and mix together 1/4 cup of sugar and a teaspoon or so of lemon zest. I consider myself to be rather zesty, so I did a heaping teaspoon. Take a tablespoon of that mixture and throw it in with your berries. Now, mash up those blueberries. This part is fun because you either feel like you're making moonshine or you get to take your week's frustration out on some innocent, unassuming fruit. No, I don't consider myself a sociopath, why do you ask?
I mean, who doesn't like blueberries with a ton of sugar mixed in?
Don't be friends with people who don't...they need clinical help.

Remove your pan with melty, delicious butter in it and pour in your batter. Then take a few spoonfuls at a time of your berry mix, and plop that purply goodness on top of the batter.
I used my 1/4 cup measuring cup. Less dishes make me happy.
This is gonna be gooooood.
 Totally not the normal way to make cobbler, but this makes it even better. Would I lie to you? No. Not unless you're a Green Bay fan, obviously. Then sprinkle the top with the remaining zesty sugar mix, and throw in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Rotate your pan halfway through unless you're the only person in the world with an oven that actually cooks evenly. The end result is cobbler crust that bakes up around the fruit, ensuring a perfect fruit-to-melty-awesome-crust ratio. Have the patience of a saint, and wait 30 minutes before cutting so it can set. Desserts can be really demanding sometimes. The nerve of those calorie-laden bastards. Top with vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy. You'll enjoy this more if you're in state with Blue Bell ice cream..get it together, Michigan.
I kinda wanted to just dive in, face first. All or nothing, ya know?
 Now, back to my aside about Michigan. There are a few things going on in this state that make me wonder whether or not sane people are in charge of things. Namely, cement trucks and police vehicles.

I've noticed a growing trend amongst cop cars in the South. That trend is, 'let's make it as hard as humanly possible for anyone to even tell we're in a police vehicle until after we've already ticketed them and driven away.' In Michigan, we see the exact polar opposite:

Is this shade of day-glo blue noticeable enough, or could we go day glo-ier?
Michigan: It's uh, it's really cold out there for about six months of the year. Think if we paint these squad cars electric blue and place a giant siren on top people will see us from at least a mile away and slow down so we don't have to stop 'em, eh? I don't want my Tim Horton's getting cold.

We wanted larger tires, but didn't want to seem too "Fast and the Furious" about things.
Texas: You though you'd try to get through the largest contiguous US state in under eight hours? Hahahaha...we will find you.

Also, a total, throw-you-for-a-loop-and-nearly-cause-you-to-drive-off-the-interstate moment that happens when you're up here is the first time you encounter a cement truck. Now, if you're from the South, this is what you think of when you see the words "cement truck:"
There's absolutely nothing unsettling about this vehicle.
But these words take on a completely different, and frankly, terrifying image up here:
What the hell is that?! Is it going to eat my children?
It is completely ass-backwards is what it is. Like the scene in Spaceballs: The Movie when the president gets teleported to another room and his ass is on backwards. As someone who regularly sees the formerly mentioned cement truck driving down the highway, to see the latter makes it look as though that truck is driving down the road backwards at a really unsafe speed. The brain takes a few moments to process this information, and then either shuts down entirely, or gives up all hope in humanity.

Now, other than these two things, I can pick up what Michigan is putting down for the most part as long as I'm gone by winter. It is beautiful, and frankly, people aren't quite as stupid as they are down in the Southwest. Even the cashiers at the grocery store can hold a pleasant and totally coherent conversation with you up here. Not one single grunt! All my bitching about Southern hospitality when I lived here must have sunk in a bit, because people are generally not too rude either (but not during winter, people are always mean during winter because it feels like their souls are dying with each inch of accumulating snow).

The only thing I really miss about the Southwest/Texas is this:
God said: "I'm so sorry about how flat and brown it is here...have a beautiful sky to make up for it."
I have a sense of utterly unwavering pride for Texas when I see how plain the sunsets are around the rest of the country; like, my heart hurts I'm so proud. A Texan's pride in our home state is real, and it is deep. We may not have trees and grass so green it looks photoshopped, but dammit, we've got the prettiest skies anyone will ever see. My cobbler would taste really good while watching that sunset, so, til next time, my fellow eaters!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

American Flag Cake: My Country Tis Made of Tasty.

Unless you live under a rock (looking at you, Canada), you all know yesterday was Independence Day. The day Will Smith saved us from a superior alien race. Wait....that's not right. Different Independence Day. Yesterday, our nation continued to celebrate freedom and the awesomeness that is the U.S. of A. by barbequing, getting sunburned, drinking cheap beer, and blowing stuff up. 'MERICA! I am a total patriot. I know, I go on and on about Texas (you would, too, if you were from there), but our country as a whole is still pretty damn legit. I enjoy the hell out of some freedom. This enjoyment is only boosted by my pride in my husband who does a pretty good job serving our country, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, he is not here to enjoy fireworks and all aforementioned fun. So I'll probably have to make this cake again next year:
Can't you just taste the freedom?
This cake was extremely labor intensive. I am just really glad our flag only has three colors and no random patterning to it, or I may still be assembling this cake right now. Instead I get to regale you with how this delicious slice of Americana came to be. I've seen many pictures of cakes that boast our flag on the inside of them on Pinterest. But you know what you never see with them? Instructions. So I had to do some hella planning to make this happen. I never want you to have to nearly have an aneurism trying to figure out how to make this cake, so let me take you through it (with fervor and sarcasm, because I am a free American).
That's a lotta cake, yo.
To make this one cake, you need to make three cakes. Trust me, this will make sense to you later. You'll obviously want the cake to be red, white, and blue. If you're an overachiever, I suppose you could make white cake, red velvet, and blue velvet cakes from scratch, but I just don't have that kind of time on my hands. I mean, my Netflix isn't going to binge watch itself, ya know? Plus, baking and cooling three cakes takes over half the day anyway, so do yourself a favor and just use my handy trick to make your box cake taste like bakery cake by adding an extra egg, sub milk for water, and sub margarine for oil and double the amount. No one will know the difference, unless you tell them. I just shot myself in the foot for you. I hope you appreciate it. And btw, blue velvet cake is now officially the greatest cake I've ever tasted in my entire life. Literal thanks to you, America.
My house still smells like cake two days later. And it is awesome.
You really only need one 8" round blue velvet cake, one 8" round white cake, and one 8" inch round and one 6" round red velvet cake. I was taught never to waste food because there are starving kids in other countries, so I used all my batter. As an aside- how ridiculous is that? Like, are these starving Canadians (going out on a limb here), going to go through my trash and eating my leftovers? Yeah, anyway...take a piece of cardboard (I used a cardboard cake plate), and cut a 6" circle out of it, like so:
The smallness of the circle will also make
your thumbs look huge, too. Stop judging me.
I did this while one of the fifteen bajillion cakes was in the oven. Seriously felt like there was that many. But I am a true patriot, and I will spend ten hours baking and decorating a cake for this great country. Once each cake is done, let it cool in the pan on a rack for ten minutes, then place the cakes face down on a smooth towel on top of the cooling rack. This step is important because it flattens out the top of your cake so things don't get wonky when you assemble later. You need me, people. As each cake finished, I put the rounds that were cooling onto plates and into my spare fridge. If you don't have a spare fridge, just make space in your house fridge...but where do you keep all your beer? Evaluate your life choices at this point, please. Make sure you allow all your cakes to get nice and cold because as an added tip, this makes torting and cutting less crummy, in more ways than one.
The circle of liiiifeeeee....
And it moves us allllll.... don't immediately see a circle and burst out into Lion King songs? Are you sure you're on the right blog then? If you are singing along, take your 6" red velvet round and your 8" blue velvet round, and use the circle to cut out a, you guessed it, circle in the middle of each cake. You will want to keep your inside circle from the red velvet cake, and the outside circle from the blue velvet cake. Layman's terms part one: The red part will go into the hollowed out blue part later. Now, take your 8" red velvet cake, now 4" red velvet cake, and 8" white cake and torte them. Layman's terms part two: Cut those bitches in half, yo. Then take one of the white rounds, and "Circle of Life" that thing, too. So you now have what looks like a multiple cake homicide:
Cutting things apart never looked so tasty.
There's an extra 8" white round in the picture because I wasn't sure of the certain level of thickness I needed to make the flag. If you're better at actually figuring out where "half" is on a cake when you torte it, you don't need to worry about that. I'm special needs when it comes to eyeballing things, apparently. Now it is time to assemmmbllleeee! I said that like Ron Burgandy in Achorman, a.k.a., "Legitimately American."
The most delicious sandwich, ever.
The one thing I did make from scratch for this cake was my white frosting that is thick enough to use the paper towel trick on. That and I like to add some almond extract just to make my frosting taste that much better. U.S.A: We go the extra mile. Sometimes. So, take a red velvet 8" round, and slap some frosting on top of that bad boy. Then take an appropriately thick 8" white round, slap more frosting on top, and then stack up your remaining 8" red velvet layer. Guess what goes on top of that? If you said anything other than more frosting, we can't be friends for at least a week. 
Must. Resist. Adding. More. "Circle of Life" lyrics.
Now, things are coming right along, yes? Take your hollowed out blue velvet cake and place it on top of your frosted red velvet layer. Frost the inside ring to get the cake to stick together better. New mantra: Frosting, the glue of choice for sugar addicts. Now, take your small white cake, and plop it inside the circle. Frost the top of that, and then place the last red velvet section inside. Again, frost, frost away. 
It doesn't look pretty or patriotic at this point, I apologize.
 This whole cake ended up using almost SIX CUPS of frosting. I know, don't think about it. America doesn't count calories. Now crumb coat the entire cake:
Because without the crumb coat, you will make America look so sad.
Once you've done your crumb coat, stick the cake (my God it is SO HEAVY) in the fridge for an hour. Or, if you're like me and you realize you've spent an entire eight hours to this point frosting and waiting, stick it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Then frost the entire cake as smooth as you possibly can, with a thick layer of clean, crumb-free (or as close as you can get) top layer of frosting. Stick it back in the fridge or freezer, your choice you little glutton for punishment, and then use the paper towel trick to smooth that sucker out.
At this point, I was so tired I was having trouble seeing straight.
Suffer for your country!!!
 Now you're ready to decorate however you see fit. Since my house isn't allowed the loud, explodey version of fireworks (thanks to Hank's Doppler-sized ears), I created a tasty frosting version of fireworks instead. I used a can of blue and a bag of red frosting (all Wal-mart had, don't make me start...). I simply placed a red dot in the middle, then drew a circle around that in blue, and a circle around that in red, etc. until I reached the edge of the cake:
I swear I wasn't drunk.That frosting in a can is tricky!!!
Thankfully this part doesn't have to be pretty. It was almost 8 p.m. at this point, and I had been at it since 10 a.m. Pretty was not something I was too worried about at this point. I was just so glad I had the wherewithal to make this cake a day ahead of time, or I would've been screwed. Now, take a toothpick and starting at the center, lightly draw all the way out past your last circle. Clean the toothpick, and do this again three more times making cross across the cake (and cleaning the pick after each time because pretty is still important even when you're delirious). Then inside your cross, draw outward lines again, leaving you with eight sectioned off pieces. Since these pieces would be far too huge for even the most gluttonous of Americans, take your toothpick again, and this final time, start from the outside and draw lines in to the center in between your eight sections. BOOM, BABY! FIREWORK:
Even when I am a zombie, I like to overachieve,
so I decorated my cake board with stars, too.
Now, when you tell people you spent an entire day making a cake and they see this, they will be confused. So start off by telling them the INSIDE of the cake is where it's at. This is the one time in life when what's inside is actually more important than what's on the outside. Yeah, you read that right. And you agreed with me a little bit, don't deny it you vain, liked-minded individual. No judgement here. I'd much rather be stuck behind someone showered and primped at the checkout lane than someone who has worn the same PJ's for six days straight and hasn't brushed their teeth. Appearance matters; the more you know.

All this work is totally worth it once you cut into the cake and it actually looks like that picture you saw on the internet but no one ever took the time to write out the details about how to do it. Until now, because I love you all, and as a teacher, I have this innate need to spell things out.
'merica, you look delicious.
Now, what about all the cake we didn't end up using? Watch may have some Canadians snooping around in your trash, eating all your leftover cake parts...
This is the land of excess. Excess cake.
Seriously though, FREEZE some of the leftover layers and save them to make another blue and white cake later. Eat the red velvet scraps because you worked hard, and you deserve it. I may or may not still be eating plain cake scraps for breakfast every morning. The world will never know. Continue to have a safe and kick ass Fourth of July weekend, as only a true patriot could! ...just don't lose any digits in the process..til next time, my fellow eaters!