Introduction: Independence Day Surprise Cake

About: I am passionate about my career as a math teacher, enjoy anything outdoors, love to travel, and enjoy putting a smile on others faces through my creations.

I am a math and physics teacher fresh out of college so with my summers off I enjoy tapping into my creative side and making things for everyone to enjoy.  This cake will put your high school geometry skills to use and is sure to be a hit at any summer party.  So if you are looking for a cake that is both delicious and impressive for your summertime get together then this is the instructable for you. This cake is easy but will dazzle your guests by delivering an updated and festive look to a traditional white cake.   I start by taking a basic white cake mix and dress it up with a simple homemade butter creme frosting and some food coloring to please the eyes.  Follow my step-by-step instructions and you will be on your way to a show stopper in no time.

Step 1: Ingredients

The ingredients for this cake are very simple and can be found at any local grocery store.  

For the cake:
- 2 boxed cake mixes (including the ingredients required to bake them i.e. eggs oil and water)
- Several drops of both Red and Blue wilton food colors (I used color gel)
- Crisco or cooking spray (for coating the pan)

For the butter creme icing:
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla (I like to add the extra teaspoon)
- 1 cup shortening (optional, 2 tablespoons of milk can be added for extra moisture if necessary. I use shortening for a very white looking frosting)

Step 2: Making the Cake

Prepare the cake as instructed to do so on the box.  It is important you use white cake so that the colors are appropriate for the american flag (yes chocolate is delicious but this is not the place for chocolate cake).  I used two boxes of cake mix which yielded 2000 grams of batter when mixed.  The boxes will produce four 8 inch cake rounds and you will only need three for this cake.  Divide the batter into four equal parts (500 grams each if you are using a scale to be precise) in bowls large enough to add in color. MIx red into one bowl and blue into another using a few drops or small amount of food dye gel.  Pour into three greased cake pans and bake as directed. Let  cool completely and refrigerate the cake (covered)  to make cutting less messy. 

* Use any remaining batter to make delicious cupcakes to snack on while waiting for company!

Step 3: Making the Butter Creme Frosting

Yum, nothing is better than a classic butter creme frosting.

In a mixer creme the butter (room temperature) and shortening (or milk if you opt out of using shortening *see ingredients on step 1) for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and egg white and whip until light and fluffy.  Slowly add in the sugar 1 cup at a time until it is incorporated into the butter mixture.  (5-10 minutes).  

*note: butter creme is extremely light and fluffy when at room temperature which is ideal for stacking and dirty icing the cake.  

Step 4: Cutting and Stacking the Cake

Using a cookie sheet (as shown in the pictures) or a fancy cake leveler make the cakes all uniform in level by shaving off the top of each cake to make them flat and ready for stacking. 
  1. Red layer: cut the red cake in half horizontally so that you have two equal discs.  Careful this can be a little tricky, take your time and make small cuts checking to make sure you stay level the whole time. 
  2. White layer: Same as the red layer.
  3. Stack the half a red and half a white cake and use a bowl to cut out the center from the cake. 
  4. Using the same bowl, cut out the center circle of the blue cake (do not destroy, you will need the outer ring).
  5. Place the red/white circle inside of the blue ring.
  6. Stack the cakes in the order white, red, blue ring with withe and red in center.  Assemble with butter creme between each layer.
  7. Crumb coat (coat with a light layer of frosting that acts as the 'glue' of the cake) the entire cake and let set up in the fridge for an hour. 

Step 5: Decorate

Now that the cake is set up and hardened it is time to decorate and make it look pretty.  I used a star tip (wilton #18) to decorate using a stippling technique by individually pipping each dot of icing.  Set aside a small amount of the frosting to color both red and blue.  A little less than half of the frosting will need to be white, about a quarter cup blue, and the majority you will need to color red.  

Using a star shaped cookie cutter and different sized bowls (or anything circular) trace out a pattern to follow for decorating your cake.  Then have at it! Notice how I saved red for last so that I could just use all remaining frosting when mixing in the food gel colors. 

***Make sure to have enough frosting (making more is better) before you mix in the colors so that you don't run out and have mix and match a new tint of frosting. 

Step 6: Enjoy!

The surprise inside this cake is just as exciting as the look of the cake from the outside.  Make sure everybody is around when you cut into the cake and use a very sharp knife to make a perfect cut.  I advise you serve this cake cold so that the butter creme is set and won't get messy during cutting (this would make the cake less appealing) If you're not impressed with the look of the outside or inside of the cake just wait until you taste it.  Delicious!

Enjoy! Share your comments and any questions you may have and remember if you try this easy to make cake make sure to take pictures and share your work!

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