Happy July 4th weekend to my folks in the States! For those of you who aren’t: howdy, and I hope you’re all enjoying the sudden onslaught of all things Red, White, and Blue that’s slamming your feed this week <3 guilty as charged.
Growing up, I was never a huge fan of July 4th. As a non-meat-eating A/C comfort kind of gal, I just couldn’t see the appeal of a holiday where a) grilled meat popped up EVERYWHERE you turned, b) any and all outdoor activities promised to end in sticky, stinky sweat-bomb baths, and c) national levels of machismo bravado exploded by about tenfold.
And then I became a food blogger, and all of that changed overnight. Suddenly the choruses of the national anthem bellowed proudly overhead as I experimented with 4th of July-themed desserts; all around me, explosions of raspberries and blueberries on white cakes conspired to convert me to the grand old holiday. And hey, I ended up making this Checkered Red & Blue Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting for my team this week, so who’s to say it didn’t work, right?
Ever since my dormmate told me what a checkered cake was in college, I’ve wanted to make one, and this year I thought July 4th was as good an excuse as any for the occasion. While the presentation could use some work, I was blown away by just how easy the process was once I decided to actually follow some instructions. On top of that, the red & blue velvet cake recipe I use here was hands down AMAZING: moist, rich, deep, and completely balanced by the sweet cream cheese frosting I slathered all around it. Trust me, it’s NOT just a chocolate cake or buttermilk cake with food coloring in it: it is so. Much. More. My next goal is to turn it into a legit rainbow checkered cake for someone’s birthday, so you bet you’ll be seeing a repeat performance of this cake soon.
The other thing I love about food blogging is that I can sneak as much of my food as I want before bringing it to the office and say that I did it in the name of “work.” For instance, do you see that generous slice I cut out here for my photoshoot? I ended up eating that (and then some, whoops) before this cake even made it to anyone else. I mean, the sacrifices I make for this job, right? Yeesh!
Happy 4th of July, y’all! How will you be celebrating this holiday?
For the red & blue velvet cakes:
- 3 cups cake flour (or 2 7/8 cup all-purpose flour sifted with 2 tablespoons cornstarch)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red liquid food coloring
- 2 tablespoons blue liquid food coloring
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 4 large egg whites, room temperature
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 2 (8 oz.) blocks of cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 8-inch springform pans and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in oil; the mixture may look slightly crumbly--this is okay!
- Add egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in vinegar.
- Separate batter into two bowls. Add red food coloring to one bowl; add blue food coloring to the other. Add half of the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup buttermilk to each bowl. Fold in gently with a spatula until everything is just incorporated and smooth.
- Pour each colored batter into one of the prepared pans. Bake in oven for 27-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean. Allow cakes to cool, then wrap each layer tightly in several layers of cling wrap. Freeze for at least 8 hours.
To assemble checkered cake:
- You will be cutting each cake into three "rings"--the rings should be the same size for both cakes. Cut a 5-inch diameter circle out of parchment paper and place it in the center of one of the cakes. Use a serrated knife and cut the frozen cake as closely to the circle as possible. Repeat for the second cake.
- Now draw a 2-inch circle on the paper and cut out the pattern. Place it in the middle of your cake layer and use the serrated knife to cut closely around it. Repeat with the second cake layer.
- Carefully separate the outer ring layer from Cake Layer 1 and place it on a separate plate. Separate the innermost circle of the same cake and place it on the separate plate as well.
- From Cake Layer 2, separate the outermost layer and place around the middle ring from Cake 1. From Cake Layer 2, also separate the innermost circle and place it inside the middle ring from Cake 1.
- Repeat the process with the other cake layer. You should now have two cake layers with three alternating ring colors each!
- Frost the top of one cake layer with cream cheese frosting (recipe below). Carefully place the second cake layer on top of the first, then frost the whole cake. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days--and of course, enjoy it!
For the cream cheese frosting:
- Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add confections' sugar and beat in until just smooth. Add vanilla.