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.
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.
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.
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
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.