Happy 4th, everyone!! Instead of traveling, or hitting various BBQs, I decided to bake. I had seen a photo of a beautiful red, white and blue rosette cake on Pinterest last year by Amanda Rettke, the creator of I Am Baker. I thought it was really beautiful, and challenging, so I jumped in!
At Amanda’s recommendation I made the Cook’s Illustrated White Layer Cake recipe posted on Epicurious. It really is amazing cake! It’s light and airy with a nice hint of almond. For some reason, I read the recipe as having two cups of milk when it only called for one. The recipe tells you to pour in the egg whites, vanilla and almond extracts then scramble with a fork….which I did. I poured in 1/2 cup of the liquid, mixed, then added the other half when I realized I still had another cup of milk left over. So, I ended up trying to calculate how much of the ingredients I needed to add to balance it out. My fingers were crossed when baking. To my surprise, they came out great! I made one more layer, a half batch of the recipe, but did notice that this one was a little thicker than the others. They were so close it wasn’t a problem in the end. After cooling completely, I covered each layer in plastic and let them sit overnight before I tackled the frosting. I decided to stick with plain white layers instead of red, white and blue like Amanda’s cake. Personal preference.
I knew the rosettes were going to be a challenge. For some reason, I wasn’t able to pull up the tutorial on her site but I had seen a demonstration once on a baking show. I pulled the Sprinkles Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe that I really love from Genius Kitchen. If you’ve spent any time in Los Angeles, you know all about Sprinkles. Pretty much my first introduction to gourmet cupcakes when they opened their store in Beverly Hills in 2005. The first batch of frosting served as the filling between layers and the exterior crumb coat. I used a large tip to apply the interior frosting but didn’t spread it evenly with an icing spatula. I thought the weight of the cake layers would flatten it but the white cake was so light, the streams of frosting remained. It didn’t help that I put the cake back into the refrigerator while I made more frosting. So, when I cut the cake, there were a few gaps where frosting should have been. It didn’t change the taste of the cake but it was one of those simple tasks that should have been done. I believe Amanda used 8 inch cake pans which made her cake a little taller. I followed the original recipe and used 9 inch pans. With the slightly larger pan, it takes a little more frosting to cover the cake and slightly smaller rosettes.
I proceeded to make three more batches of frosting, coloring one blue and one red. I was really nervous about this because I don’t think I’ve ever been successful with colors that didn’t turn out pink or turquoise. It took quite a bit of food coloring to get it right. For navy blue, I used blue, black, red and pink. For the red, I started with crimson, then red, then a touch of black. I continued to add coloring until it came together, maybe too much in total. Because of that, you do get a blue and red tongue when you eat the cake but it only lasts for a moment. I was much better at the rosettes than I thought I would be. I threw a wrench in the process because I refrigerated the three frosting bags while I took a break with my dog. It’s really hard to make the rosettes if the frosting is too chilled. So, I had to wait for them to warm up a bit before I could make a nice smooth rosette. I ran out of red so a small section on the back of the cake was not covered which didn’t matter for photographs. That means that it would be a good idea to make 1.5 batches of frosting for red, one batch for blue, one batch for white and one batch of white for the interior of the cake layers and crumb coat. That’s a little over two pounds of butter in the frosting alone! Holy cow!!
This was really a great experience and I feel like I nailed it. It’s a beautiful cake in person, stunning in fact. In the future, I would back off the thickness of the interior frosting layers and the crumb coat. The rosettes are thick enough and, even though I LOVE frosting, it was a little too much.
After taking a few photographs, I hacked it into pieces (Steel Magnolias reference) and distributed it to my neighbors. It’s shocking they aren’t all diabetics by now. I do wish I could have left the cake on the counter for a few days just to look at it. It was the perfect cake to celebrate our country’s independence! Happy 4th of July!