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!

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