No dessert says Fourth of July more than a berry flag cake. But we're getting a little tired of seeing the same old thing at the barbecue every year.
That's where the Best Pastry Chef in Miami comes in. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort's executive pastry chef, Antonio Bachour, invited us into his kitchen for a decorating demonstration, putting his own spin on a traditional berry flag cake. But because Bachour doesn't do traditional, he couldn't help but try his hand at a second pastry -- a modern Stars and Stripes-inspired red velvet cake.
We'll take you through the decorations step-by-step and also provide you with the recipes if you want to do the baking from scratch.
Patriotic Berry Cake
Chef Antonio Bachour started with a round three-layer cake (wait until you see what those three layers look like). With white buttercream in between the layers and a white chocolate glaze icing the outside of the cake, he started with a blank slate. "We never know what the decorations will look like ahead of time. Yesterday we had a party for 200 people, and we do all the decorations à la minute."
Start with blueberries and raspberries dipped in a neutral glaze for shine and place them on top of the cake (five rows of four blueberries each and four rows of three raspberries).
Take a large white fondant-like star made of sugar and speckle it with red-colored cocoa butter, used most often to decorate chocolate. Insert one of the five points into the cake as a free-standing decoration.
Add on the final touches with other house-made chocolate decorations -- a dark chocolate curlicue and white chocolate decor also splattered with colorful cocoa butter.
Layers of red, white, and blue cake with white buttercream filling were used to give the cake a vibrant patriotic effect. This will definitely impress the host of your family BBQ more than the berries and whipped cream version we're so used to seeing. See the next page for the recipe and then click through to find out how to decorate his Stars and Stripes cake.
Red, White, and Blue Cake:
Makes two 9-inch rounds. You will need to make this recipe twice, dividing and coloring as directed below before baking.
6 ounce unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
5 large egg whites
11 ounce cake flour, sifted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare your cake pans, spraying pan coating all around the inside. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and shortening until very well incorporated and very light in color. Add the sugar, flavorings, and salt, and beat for another minute.
3. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating very well and scraping down the sides in between each addition. This should take about 5 minutes. The mixture will be very light in color and very fluffy by this time.
4. Next, to incorporate the flour/baking powder and buttermilk, add about 1/4 of the flour, and then 1/3 of the milk. Add another 1/4 flour, another 1/4 milk and so on, ending up with the last 1/4 cup of flour.
5. Make sure all ingredients are well incorporated, but take care not to over beat the batter. You just spent a fair bit of time getting the air into the cake. Split your batter in half and add the food coloring at this time. Make one batch and color half of it blue and half of it red. Use a scale to fill the pans evenly. Use a spatula to spread the batter around evenly.
6. Bake the two layers in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on your oven and altitude. The cakes will be done when they spring back to the touch.
7. Remove pans from the oven and let cool 10 minutes on a rack. Use a knife to loosen the edges and carefully remove from pans and let finish cooling on a rack. When completely cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and store flat in fridge.
Stars and Stripes
This red velvet cake also starts off with a white chocolate glaze coating layers of cake and buttercream frosting.
Next, blue cocoa butter is speckled along the top of the cake, and Chef Bachour adds accents he find around his kitchen, like bright blue macarons.
The macarons, which have a blackberry mojito filling and golden accents, were made for a large event at the St. Regis the night before. All of the macarons are house-made with almond flour, egg whites kept at room temperature, and confectioner's sugar. The ingredients are blended into a meringue with the color and flavoring added, and then piped for baking. Red and blue cake cubes are the next addition atop the cake's white chocolate glaze.
Shiny glazed raspberry accents are added on, and, finally, a white star made out of sugar is powdered with gold luster decor to place on the cake.
For the red velvet cake and frosting ingredients, click to the next page.
Red Velvet Cake:
Makes three 9-inch cakes for layering.
Red Velvet Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1.5 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1.5 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray pan coating on three 9-inch cake pans.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
3. Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed. Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
4. Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
5. Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4- to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting.
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
8 ounce unsalted butter softened
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1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy.