Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stars and Stripes

Don't you all just love the summer?  So many reasons . . .dewy mornings before the onset of peak heat, or how about the lazy weekends by the pool?  Shades and shorts? Bikinis and cocktails by the pool?  So hard to choose. . . But my favorite would have to be the start of holiday season.  You know, the stream of long weekends that start around Memorial Day and don't end until New Years.  Little pockets of time to breathe between the hectic seemingly endless workweeks. Time to think, and read, and, well, bake!

Here's a treat to guide you into our next great American holiday -- Independence Day!  And *bonus* you have more than enough time before the big day to try it yourself.

This is the perfect cake for mid summer -- light enough to eat even in sweltering temperatures, and easy enough that you won't break a sweat making it either.  And just as importantly -- quite impressive to look at.

To start off, you'll need a 1/2 sheet pan. And the template from Sugary Winzy.  Full instructions can be found on her website (because it would be silly of me to copy the whole thing out here when she does it so perfectly there.)

I love this kind of dessert, because the design is baked right into the cake.  It gives it a really unique look.  And once you figure out the process, you can try all sorts of different designs.  Your ability is really only limited by your creativity (and your artistic impulse. So my ability is actually quite limited.  Luckily, there are a plethora of ideas on the internet if you do get the urge to try something new.)

The concept is actually quite simple.  The different designs can be accomplished by using different textures/weights of batter.  So you can pipe a design with a heavier batter without risking it moving around, even after you top with a lighter, more traditional cake batter.  Then you just bake the whole thing at once.

 To start off, you'll have to have the template printed and ready to go.  Don't forget that step! It's (arguably) the most important one of all!
 Use your heavier "paste" batter to pipe the outlines of the stars.  Then fill in the stars with the same batter. Freeze the piped batter to make it even more stable.
While you're waiting for the batter to freeze sufficiently, mix your colors for the rest of the paste batter. 
By the time you've gotten your paste to the perfect blue and red, your stars should be appropriately frozen.  Pipe the stripes using a flat tip (you may have to pipe two stripes overlapping to form one really thick stripe if your tip isn't wide enough, like I did.)
Then using a regular round tip, fill in rectangle with the stars so that you can't see the stars any more at all.  Make sure you do a nice, thick, even, layer.  If you miss any space around the stars, you'll have a gap in your cake. Freeze again until the paste is stable.
 Using your regular batter, fill in the entire cake. Bake.
When you take the cake out of the oven, it will just look like a boring old sheet cake.  But don't worry, a surprise awaits!
Cover the sheet pan with a kitchen towel.  Supporting the cake with your hands, gently flip over.  (You can tap the pan and say "abracadabra" if you'd like.  That's more fun if you have people watching you. . . )
Remove the pan, and . . . voila -- hidden design revealed! But. . . wait. . . that doesn't look quite right.
😨 😱 😫
Okay, don't panic.  More magic awaits.
Using another kitchen towel, flip the cake back upside down again.  (No abracadabra this time. . .I mean, unless you really want to. . .)
Roll the cake up between the two towels.  GENTLY.  You don't want your masterpiece to crack after all.  Even with the stripes going the wrong way. . .
So here's an interesting tidbit.  Did you know that cakes have memory?  Not the way that you and I do, but if you roll the cake up when it's still hot, it will retain that little bit of "stretch," and not crack when you roll it up with filling.  (Not quite the scientific explanation, but you get the point.)

You can unroll it after about half an hour.
Fill the cake with whatever you would like.  I went with a simple whipped cream and strawberry mixture.  More whipped cream than strawberries -- since, well you can never really have enough whipped cream -- am I right?? 😉

Roll the cake back up again (obviously, not rolling in the towel this time.)

Look at that.  The stripes are going the right way.


And you know what pairs perfectly with magic?
Fireworks. 🎇🎆🎉
And Independence.
And CAKE! 

So, all you patriots out there -- cut yourself a piece of this all-American cake, queue up the Star Spangled Banner, gaze up at the brilliantly lit night sky --
and celebrate the birthday of own dear Lady Liberty🗽 herself.

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