4th of July Flag Cake

I recently made a simple vanilla cake in preparation for 4th of July.  You know, just your average white cake…

with an American Flag inside!

Kind of cool, right?

I’ve seen this fun cake idea on several wonderful baking blogs.  The earliest post I found was from 17 and Baking, who credits her dad for the creative idea.

I opted for an extra simple decorating style on the outside of the cake, knowing the “wow factor” would be on the inside.  I made a sweet patriotic cake bunting using stripped paper straws, a little twine and some festive ribbon.

There are several different ways this could be done.  I assembled the cake using a slightly different technique than the original cake shown on 17 and Baking, but she has a video showing how she did hers, so you may want to check that out as a starting point.

~ How to put an American Flag inside a cake ~

I prepared a total of two Vanilla cake mixes (from a box- but feel free to use any Vanilla cake recipe you love).  Prepare two 8″ cake pans by coating with a small amount of butter and flour, and placing parchment paper in the bottom.  Prepare one batch of batter and color it red (I used Americolor super red gel).  Divide the batter equally and pour into the two prepared pans.  Bake as instucted by your recipe.

While the red cakes are baking, prepare another batch of batter.  Divide the batter into two bowls and color one of the bowls of batter blue (I used Americolor royal blue).  Leave the remaining bowl of batter uncolored.

When your red cakes have baked and cooled, remove from pans.  Wash and then prepare pans for the white and blue batter.  Bake.

However you get there, what you want to end up with is..

1- 8″ round blue cake

1- 8″ round white cake

2- 8″ round red cakes

(below I had already cut out a 4″ circle from one of the red cakes)

Then…

Slice the two red cake in half (horizontally), so you’ll have a total of 4 red layers.  Set aside one layer, this will not be used for the cake.  Cut a 4″ circle out of one of the layers.  So you want to have two 8″ round layers and one 4″ round layer.

Cut the white cake in half as well.  Then use a 4″ cookie cutter to cut a circle out of one of the halves.

Use a 4″ cookie cutter again (or make a 4″ circle of cardboard and use that as your template) to cut out the center of your blue cake.

You’re ready to assemble your cake when you have…

1 thick layer of blue, with the center cut out

2- 8″ layers of red

1- 4″ layer of red

1- 8″ layer of white

1- 4″ layer of white

Prepare a batch of Vanilla frosting. I used my favorite Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.

Assemble cake with a thin layer of frosting between each layer of cake, starting on the bottom with red cake, then white, then red, then blue.  Add some frosting along the inside “ring” of the blue cake to hold in the next two layer which will fit inside the opening.  Fill the hole in the blue cake with a 4″ round layer of with cake, some frosting, then the 4″ round of red.

Simple right??  Hopefully my photos explain it better than all the words!  Once assembled, frost the cake as desired.  Chill the frosted cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.  Then cut it open and smile at the pretty surprise inside.

 Happy Birthday my beloved U.S.A.!

Baked Mini Cake Doughnuts with Maple Glaze {Recipe}

On my recent trip to the Wilton headquarters (which included a mini shopping spree at the annual Wilton tent sale) I picked up two mini doughnut pans.  I usually try to steer clear of  “one use” pans, but they were just too cute to pass up!  And I love mini desserts so much I think I’ll find plenty of reasons to make good use of my new pans.  In fact, just this week a friend called to see if I could help bring some doughnuts to church on Sunday as a special “Doughnuts for Dads” after church treat (in celebration of Father’s Day).  Of course I can bring doughnuts… and I’ll make them myself!

The Wilton pan comes with a recipe right on it, so I thought that would be a good place to start.  I gave it a practice run and I’m quite happy with it.  I will be experimenting with other recipes as time goes on, but this was a nice starting point.

~ Baked Mini Cake Doughnuts ~

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon white vinegar, mixed and set aside)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425*F.  Spray mini doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together (or stir with a whisk), flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Add buttermilk, egg, and butter and stir until just combined.

Scoop batter into a large ziplock style bag, or large piping bag and snip off the tip to fill doughnut pan.

Fill each doughnut cup approximately 1/3- 1/2 full.  The batter will rise quite a bit during baking.

Bake 4-6 minutes or until the top of the doughnuts spring back when touched.

 Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes 36 mini doughnuts.

Recipe Source- Adjusted slightly from the Wilton mini doughnut pan

~ Maple Glaze ~

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple extract (as desired)

*For a vanilla glaze, simple substitute 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in place of the maple extract

In a small bowl, stir together sugar, milk and extract until sugar is completely dissolved.  Use immediately to glaze doughnuts.  Dip each doughnut in glaze, then set on a plate or baking sheet and top with sprinkles of your choice.

Go ahead and go get yourself a mini doughnut pan, because I think you’ll be seeing a few more of these from me!  There are all sorts of variations I want to try.  In fact, Sprinkle Bakes, Cooking with my Kid and Cookies and Cups have all recently made some delicious looking variations!

{Sweet Travels} Wilton Blogger’s Workshop

The words “Business trip” and “Cake” rarely go together, but when you’re a food blogger, fun things like that can happen!  I was recently invited by the Wilton company to attend the Wilton Blogger’s Workshop, held outside Chicago, Illinois.  I gladly took the opportunity to meet up with many talented bloggers, and learn more about the Wilton company.  Since I frequently visit the cake decorating section of my local craft stores, I’m quite familiar with many of Wilton’s great products.  Their huge selection of products can be purchased everywhere from Wal-mart to Michael’s, and the full line of products is available on their site, Wilton.com.

The day of the workshop, our group of 25 bloggers traveled (from our hotel) to the Wilton Headquarters (Woodridge, Illinois).  We started the day with a decorating workshop, where we brushed up on decorating basics and piping skills, and enjoyed demos of some of Wilton’s newest products.

We were greeted with a goodie bag full of all the decorating supplies we’d need for the day.

Later in the day we were split into groups (of three) and participated in a good natured cake decorating contest.  We were given a cake (a fake cake) already iced, and had one hour to decorate it as desired (using a variety of Wilton supplies provided).

(Above) Here I am (in blue) working hard with Liz of Hoosier Homemade.

(Below)  Rachel, of Cooking with my Kid (on left), and Shelly of Cookies and Cups (right) working on their cake, which later won the title “Most Creative”

(Above) Jessie of Cake Spy with her group’s cake.

(Below)  My group’s finished cake (decorated by Liz of Hoosier Homemade, Carrie of Fields of Cake, and myself).  Our cake won the title ”Best Overall Technique”.

Part of our day included a great peek behind the scenes at Wilton, including tours of the test kitchen, the decorating room, photo studio, prop room and decorating school.

Have you ever seen an office lined with cakes on every surface?  =)

A peek inside the photo prop room… It’s scary to realize I almost have as many cake stands as they do!

We rounded out the day with a trip to Wilton’s annual tent sale.  The tent sale is open to the public, and if you love cake or cookie decorating and live within a few hours of Woodridge, Illinois I would highly recommend finding your way to the tent sale, which is held every June.

Need a cake pan… or 10?

How about a cookie cutter… or 20?

I may have found a few things at the sale to stuff in my suitcase…

The day ended with a delicious dinner at Gordan Biersch, where I enjoyed a bit more time with some of the lovely ladies in attendance.

(Left to Right) Kristan of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, Shelly of Cookies and Cups, Karly of Buns in my Oven, and me (Glory- Glorious Treats).

(photo thanks to Karly)

And a little shoutout to a couple lovely ladies I enjoyed visiting with, but didn’t get a photo of…

Amy of She Wears Many Hats and Stacie of Cupcakes Take the Cake.

And thank you to Wilton for including me in this fun and enriching trip!

Cherries on a Cloud {Recipe}

It’s cherry season here in California, and I’m enjoying every moment of it!  This past weekend I bought a big bag of cherries from the Farmer’s Market, then came home and made this delicious little dessert.  I used fresh cherries for this recipe, but I’m sure you could use frozen (defrosted) cherries, or canned cherry pie filling.  Feel free to try another fruit as well, such as blueberries, strawberries or blackberries.  The base of the dessert (the “cloud”) is like a light cheesecake filling, so try topping it with any fruit you enjoy on cheesecake.

Cherries on a Cloud

1-8oz block of cream cheese

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk or cream

2 cups Cool Whip (or freshly whipped, lightly sweetened whipped cream)

1 1/2 cups fresh cherry halves (or fresh or frozen fruit of your choice)

3 Tablespoons cherry preserves (I used a delicious one from Trader Joe’s- their own store brand)

~ Directions ~

Pit fresh cherries and cut in half or quarters.

Put cherry preserves in a small bowl and microwave until warm (about 20 seconds).  Pour cherry preserves over fresh cherries and mix together, then set aside.

Beat cream cheese in the bowl of an eclectic mixer, or with a hand held mixer, until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and milk and continue mixing until fully incorporated and smooth.  Fold Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture and stir gently until fully combined.  Spoon or into dessert dishes (or fill a piping bag with mixture and pipe into dessert dishes).  Use a spoon to make a well in the center of the cream cheese filling, and fill with cherry topping.

Chill prepared dessert in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  This dessert may be prepared up to a couple hours in advance.

Makes 8 mini servings or 4-6 medium sized servings.

Final recipe by Glorious Treats.

Inspired by a recipe in A Little Taste of Heaven, by Philadelphia brand cream cheese.

Margarita Cookies {Decorating How-To}

Last week I went out to Mexican food with a great group of girlfriends.  We were having a farewell dinner for one of the ladies in the group, who will be moving to Germany this month.  This may be the last time she enjoys Mexican food for a while!

I wanted to make some special cookies, and Margarita’s seemed the perfect choice.  I baked up a batch of my Sugar Cookies, but wanted to add some lime flavor, so when I made the royal icing (Recipe and instructions HERE), I replaced some of the water with lime juice (I used the kind from the little lime shaped bottle- I’m sure fresh would be even better).  The result was delicious!

I was flattered that many of the ladies opened up and enjoyed their cookies right after dinner (I often have to twist peoples arms to make them eat my cookies… they say they’re too pretty to eat, but at some point I’m going to get a complex!).  I love to see people enjoy my cookies!

Want to make some Margarita and Lime shaped cookies?

~ How to make Margarita shaped Cookies ~

1.  Outline the cookie with white thick consistency icing (think traditional toothpaste consistency), using a #2 tip.

2.  Fill in the stem of the glass with white flood consistency (about the consistency of corn syrup, or shampoo), using a #2 tip.  Fill the top portion of the glass with “Margarita”, using flood consistency light green icing.  Set cookie aside and allow to dry fully (6-8 hours, or overnight).

3.  When the base icing is fully dry, add a line of thick consistency white icing around the rim of the glass (as shown above), and then immediately sprinkle with white sanding sugar.  Shake off excess sugar, then allow cookie to dry (about 2 hours) before packaging.

~ How to make Lime shaped cookies ~

(also could be adjusted for lemon or orange slice cookies)

1.  Outline the cookie in a green moderate consistency icing (somewhere between thick and thinned).

2.  Fill in cookie with light green flood consistency icing.

3.  Immediately dd white lines with a medium/flood consistency icing.

4. Add green dots for seeds, and drag a toothpick from the middle of the dot toward the center of the “fruit” just a bit to create a seed shape.

I packed the cookies as special favors for each guest at dinner.  I’ve posted directions on packaging cookies as shown above HERE.