A Very Patriotic Fourth of July Ombre Cake
Get excited! The 4th of July is only moments away! Which means there’s going to be some serious parties and spectacular fireworks to finish off the night! How is this not one of the best holidays of the year, right? Well, we’re setting this one apart with a patriotic Fourth of July Ombre Cake that’s sure to be a spectacular show of its own. A delicate white cake with a hint of lemon and almond is layered with strawberry and blueberry jam. Bold, ombre colors of red, white and blue are the patriotic touch to this cake. Did I mention the sparklers? That is so right, 4th of July is not complete without a little sparkler action lighting up the night sky. I cannot wait to dig in!
And, if that wasn’t enough, there’s a little secret this recipe holds. In honoring our country’s long history, I was able to get my hands on some very, very old cookbooks my in-laws happened to have. They may not be as old as our beautiful United States of America, but this recipe has seen well over a hundred years of existence. Which is kind of cool when you think about it. Way back when, someone worked on this recipe – fine tuning it over the years.
They probably made this cake for special occasions or social gatherings. Not having mixers back then, they likely did everything by hand; working the batter until it was just right. This recipe is a small glimpse into our past – from which we came from. I know nothing of the person that wrote it, so I’m left to wonder who they were; what were they like. I have this overwhelming feeling of honor to carry on this delicious recipe. Which only feels right that it’s used on the day we celebrate our history and the independence our ancestors fought so bravely for. To celebrate where we are going and the amazing, beautiful and diverse individuals that make up this country.
So, here’s to each and every amazing one of you. I hope you have a “sweet” holiday weekend filled with some fun in the sun, an epic barbecue or two, lots of time spent with family and friends, and a dazzling firework show to bring it all to a close! Happy Fourth of July and an even happier time making this Fourth of July Ombre Cake!
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cup sugar
- 8 eggs whites
- 2 tsps almond flavoring
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 4 cups cake flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 lb butter, at cool room temperature
- 2 lbs confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Americolor Soft Gel Paste™ Colors in Royal Blue, Navy and Red-Red
- 1 jar strawberry jam
- 1 jar blueberry jam
- 1 pint fresh strawberries (optional)
- 1 pint fresh blueberries (optional)
- Sparklers or sparkler candles (made by Wilton brand)
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Prepare three 9” cake pans by tracing the diameter of one of the cake pans onto parchment paper three times. Cut out circles. Lightly oil bottom and sides of cake pans. Lin bottom of pans with parchment rounds. Set aside.
- Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in almond flavoring and lemon zest. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat egg whites to a stiff peak. Set aside.
- To the creamed butter and sugar beat in ½ of the milk until fully incorporated, then ½ of the flour mixture. Repeat with remaining milk and flour mixture just until incorporated. Very gently fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites until smooth.
- Divide batter between the 3 prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Rotate pans 180° to ensure even baking, then bake another 10-12 minutes. Cakes are done when cake springs back when gently pressed into. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before removing from pan and peeling off parchment bottom. Once completely cool, either frost immediately or wrap in plastic wrap, then foil and freeze until ready to use. I personally like to frost a cake with frozen cake layers. It helps the frosting to set faster. Cake layers can be made up to 1 month in advance and kept frozen until ready to use.
- Cream butter until light in color and fluffy (about 5 minutes.) Scrape down bowl with spatula. Add confectioner's sugar in 3 batches, mixing in between each addition until completely blended. Add salt, almond extract and heavy cream. Blend on low until just combined. Add additional heavy cream until desired consistency is reached. Beat frosting until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Over whipping adds in too much air, so make sure to whip with care.
- Set aside about two - 1½ cup portions uncolored frosting in medium bowls (will be used for the blue and red frosting.) Cover remaining frosting and set aside. To one of the 1 ½ cups of reserved frosting, add about ¼ tsp red-red coloring. Mix until fully combined. Add more coloring until desired color is reached. Cover and set aside. To other 1½ cup frosting, add 1 tsp royal blue and 3 drops navy coloring. Mix until fully combined.
- If frosting the cake immediately, fill up 3 pastry bags, each with a 1A icing tip. Secure opening of bag with a twistie tie. If not frosting cake immediately, wrap bowls of frosting in plastic wrap and store in fridge until ready to use. May require additional whipping after storing in fridge. Put into pastry bags as described above before using.Frosting can be made up to 1 week in advance.
- Place 1 cake layer in the center of a cardboard cake round then place on a revolving cake decorating stand. This will make transferring your cake to a cake plate much easier.
- Spread a layer of blueberry jam in center of cake, leaving 1 inch from outer edge. Using the uncolored frosting, pipe a frosting ring or "dam" on the outer edge of the cake layer. This will keep the jam from leaking out. Fill in ring with uncolored frosting, piping over blueberry jam. Smooth frosting layer with a small offset spatula. Place second cake layer on top of first cake layer. Press gently and make sure both layers are even on top and sides. Run your offset spatula around side of cake to smooth any frosting seeping from both cake layers.
- Spread a layer of strawberry jam to the second layer, leaving 1 inch from outer edge. Again, pipe another ring or “dam” with uncolored frosting. Fill in ring with uncolored frosting, piping over strawberry jam. Smooth frosting layer with a small offset spatula. Finish with final cake layer. Make sure all layers are even on top and sides. Using a small offset icing spatula, smooth any buttercream on sides of cake.
- Apply a crumb coat to entire cake. This is a thin layer of frosting that seals any loose crumbs that "dirty" your final coat of frosting. Place cake in fridge for 30 minutes to set the crumb coat.
- With the blue frosting pastry bag, pipe 4 rings around cake, starting at the base of the cake. On top of those, pipe 4 rings of red frosting. Finish remaining cake side with rings of white (uncolored) frosting. On the top of cake, pipe a smooth, even spiral, starting at the edge of the cake and working inwards towards the center. Using a large offset spatula firmly pressed against the side of the cake, start turning the revolving cake stand in a smooth even fashion to flatten the colored rings of frosting. Be careful not to over blend the layers of frosting together. Smooth out top of cake with offset spatula. To finish, use a icing smoother to get everything completely smooth. Clean up any extra frosting at the base of the cake. Transfer cake (on cake board) to a decorative cake plate and serve. Cake can be made 1 day ahead and carefully wrapped and stored in a fridge.
- Warning! If you are using sparklers on your cake, please us extreme caution! Do not let children near the cake until sparklers are completely done. There will be a small amount of ash that will emit from the sparklers onto the cake top. If this is something you are worried about, I would use the sparkler candles from Wilton. I purchased mine at Jo Ann Fabrics.
Check out the step by step cake assembly
With love from my kitchen to yours,