Keyword: 4th of July, layered cake, red velvet cake
Dessert Type: Cake
Prep Time: 2hours
Cook Time: 40minutes
Chilling time: 1hour
Total Time: 1hour40minutes
Author: Elizabeth LaBau
Celebrate Independence Day with a bang by making this Fourth of July Layer Cake! Four tall layers of red and blue velvet cake are finished with silky-smooth buttercream and a fun assortment of red, white, and blue candy on top. It's the perfect party cake!
Assorted candies(gumballs, lollipops, rock candy, or anything else!)
To Make the Cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line four 8-inch pans with parchment rounds, and spray the pans with nonstick cooking spray.
First, prepare the red velvet batter. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
In the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, red gel food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-low speed until well-combined.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the pan with a spatula, then mix on medium speed until the cake batter is smooth and all the lumps of flour have disappeared.
Divide the cake batter between two of the prepared pans. If you’re using a kitchen scale, each pan should get about 25 oz of batter.
Repeat the process to make the blue velvet layers. They are made exactly the same, except you’ll want to omit the cocoa powder from the blue layers as it tends to make the color very muddy. Divide the blue batter between the remaining two pans.
Bake the cakes at 350 F for 36-40 minutes, until they pull away from the sides and spring back when lightly pressed with your fingertips. Cool completely before using. The cakes can be baked several days in advance. If making in advance, wrap the cooled cakes in cling wrap and freeze until ready to use.
To Make the Buttercream:
Combine the whites, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix everything together on low speed, until the sugar is moistened and no dry patches remain. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, then turn the mixer to medium speed. Beat on medium for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, turn the mixer to medium-low and start adding the softened room temperature butter, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Once all of the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla extract, and 1 tsp cream cheese flavor, if using, and mix it in. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides once more. Turn the speed to medium and beat the buttercream for 10 minutes. At the end, you’ll have a frosting with a wonderfully light and creamy texture. Taste, and adjust the flavoring as desired.
This buttercream can be used right away, or stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or the freezer for up to two months. If you have chilled the frosting, let it come to room temperature and then beat it for several minutes to smooth it out and restore its texture before using it.
To Assemble and Decorate:
Place the cake rounds on 8-inch cardboard cake circles. Place one layer on a cake turntable. Place a big dollop of frosting on the cake layer—about 1 generous cup—and use a metal spatula to spread the frosting into an even layer going all the way out to the edges of the cake.
Top the cake round with a second cake layer, and repeat the frosting process again. Do it with a third layer, and finally, add the last cake layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with a very thin layer of frosting—this is the crumb coat, which locks crumbs into the frosting and also provides some stability to the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 45-60 minutes, until the crumb coat is set and the cake feels firm and stable.
If the buttercream has started to get spongy, re-whip it briefly until it is smooth and silky. Cover the top and sides of the chilled cake with a thicker layer of frosting. Use a bench scraper or metal spatula to smooth out the sides and top of the cake as much as possible. Chill for another 30 minutes before decorating.
Decorate with the candy as desired. I like pressing M&Ms or gumballs around the base of the cake to make an easy and eye-catching bottom border. Decorate the top with candies of different heights, like lollipops, rock candy, large gumballs, small sprinkles, and everything in between!
For the best taste and texture, serve this cake at room temperature. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, although the texture is best within the first few days of assembly. Prolonged storage in the refrigerator may cause the candies to get sticky or bleed colors.