TASTE | CAKE BOSS

In case any of you missed it last year, here it is again: my one and only cake triumph. I'm not sure I can handle the pressure of trying it again this year, but you totally should. It's really worth the feeling of accomplishment if you get it right. Which I didn't the first time. Let's recap ...


So this is the Flag Cake from Food 52. When I first saw it, I was so inspired I knew I had to try it. This was two years ago. So I went out, bought the ingredients, and made it myself. Except it was a really humid day, so I think that was the problem. 

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Below is the cake I made. Again, remember it was humid out, and the windows were open. So you can see that the odds were against me. If I had turned the AC on, I'm pretty sure it would have come out EXACTLY like the top photo. Also, I think Food 52 has better photographers than I do.

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But here's the thing. I can't let sleeping dogs lie. So last year, I tried again. And I shut the windows. And guess what!? IT WORKED! It turns out you have to read all of the directions carefully.

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The moral of the story is to always follow your (cake) dreams and you, too, can be a Cake Boss.


food 52's flag cake


Makes one 9-inch cake

WHAT YOU NEED (FOR THE CAKE)

8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
11/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

WHAT YOU DO (FOR THE CAKE)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt to combine. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Follow with 1/3 of the buttermilk and mix to combine. Repeat until all of the wet and dry ingredients are added, scrape well to ensure the batter is smooth.

For the white cakes: do nothing! The batter can be baked as is. For the red cakes: add about 25 drops of liquid food coloring (or more if it looks too pale). For the blue cake: add about 20 drops of liquid food coloring (or more if it looks too pale).

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To assemble the cake, you'll need the frosting (recipe below). Cut the white and red cakes into even layers, between 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Now you should have 6 layers. Use a 5-inch circle cookie cutter (or trace around a 5-inch plate) to cut one of the white layers and one of the red layers into a smaller circle.

Use the 5-inch cutter to remove the center of the thicker blue cake. This cake will remain in one thick layer.

To build the cake, start with a large red layer and spread a thin coating of buttercream on top. Top with a white layer, and spread buttercream thinly on top. (The recipe is below.) Repeat with another red and another white layer -- four layers total.

Top this white layer with the thick blue layer (center removed). Spread a thin amount of frosting on the 5-inch red layer, and top it with the 5-inch white layer. Now push and pat the 5-inch layers inside the hole of the blue layer. Now the cake has been assembled!

Frost the cake with the remaining frosting, using a small offset spatula to make it swirly. All that’s left to do is eat it!

WHAT YOU NEED (FOR THE FROSTING)

4 sticks softened unsalted butter
8 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

WHAT YOU DO (FOR THE FROSTING)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cream gradually, mixing until a smooth, creamy texture.