Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Red, White, and Blue Collar Cake

Memorial day is coming up next week, so we had a “Red, White, Blue Food Day” at work today. Since its not very easy to come up with blue colored savory food, we ended up with all desserts (I’m not complaining!). Karla made a delicious cheesecake, while I baked a blueberry & strawberry cake with a white chocolate whipped frosting and a white chocolate collar. This cake turned out to be a bit of a learning experience for me. Here are a few things I realized:

  1. Sprinkles blot a whole lot easier on whipped frosting than they do on buttercream, so don’t put them on too much ahead of time.
  2. If you’re not leaving the cake out for too long before cutting, the white chocolate can be a little hard to cut into depending on how thick it is. Milk chocolate cuts through way more easily, so I’ll probably stick to making milk chocolate borders in the future (similar to this one) with designs made using white chocolate.
  3. Factor in frosting thickness while measuring dimensions for the chocolate collar, or just measure after frosting the cake.

This cake recipe is adaptable to any add-ins like nuts, chocolate chips, other fruit etc. It goes well with the whipped cream frosting (recipe below), as well as buttercreams and ganaches. The texture of the cake is soft and moist, and is perfect for making a layered cake. This long post might make it seem like it’s a daunting task to make this collar cake, but the individual steps are quite simple. I baked the cakes the previous day so they were cooled and ready to be frosted the next day. Not only does this aid the cooling/setting time, it also keeps the total mess level down and helps keep your sanity!


For each cake layer (Multiply quantities by number of cake layers that you want - I made 2 layers)
1¼ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
¾-1 cup sugar (1 cup if you like it really sweet, ¾ cup if you don't - I settle somewhere in between)
1 stick of butter (½ cup) at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup of buttermilk (If you don’t have buttermilk, see note below)

½ cup blueberries
½ cup chopped strawberries (sweeten with powdered sugar if they’re sour)

White chocolate whipped frosting
1 cup white chocolate chips
1.25 cups heavy whipping cream

Chocolate collar
~1-1.5 cups white chocolate chips
Red, blue food coloring
1 Tbsp milk/dark chocolate chips

Baking the cake
Heat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8x8" square (or 9" round) baking pan (for each layer) and dust it with flour.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a larger bowl, beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat till you get a smooth pale yellow paste. Add vanilla essence and mix well. 

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk. Beat for a few seconds on low speed until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour mixture, buttermilk. 

Fold in the berries using a spatula. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for ~35 minutes until toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool down to room temperature before taking it out of the pan. Let it chill in the refrigerator before frosting.

RWB cake.jpg

White chocolate whipped frosting
Mix ½ cup of whipping cream with 1 cup of white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in short bursts (~30 seconds) in the microwave on low power (I used power 4). Mix well every time and continue to heat until the chocolate is melted. This step can be done in a double boiler as well.

Chill the chocolate + cream mixture in the fridge for at least a couple hours.

Add rest of the whipping cream to the chilled mixture and whip it with a whisk (electric or by hand) until it is fluffy and forms soft peaks.


Cake assembly and chocolate collar

Frosting the cake
If your cake layers are not flat, trim the tops to get even layers. Look out for a post coming soon on how to bake even cake layers.
Top one of the cake layers with whipped frosting and spread it evenly to the edges (you can adjust quantity based on how thick you want the layer to be). Place the 2nd layer on top and cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting (This is a crumb coat - it is not as critical if you haven’t cut the top/edges of the cake, but does make frosting easier). Place the cake in the fridge to chill for 15-20 minutes. Then apply a thicker layer of frosting at the top and sides and smoothen it out with a spatula. Chill the frosted cake until you’re ready to attach the chocolate collar. 

Chocolate collar
Measure the length and height of the frosted cake (circumference and height for round cake), and cut out 4 pieces of parchment paper with those dimensions. I measured before frosting the cake and forgot to account for the frosting thickness, hence ended up with the edges not matching (Lesson learned!!).

Melt the white chocolate and transfer 1-2 Tbsp each in two small bowls. Mix in a few drops of red coloring in one and blue in the other. White chocolate seizes easily so don’t add a lot at once. Transfer to individual plastic zip-top bags, and cut the tip off to use for piping. Melt milk/dark chocolate and put it in another bag for piping.


Make the bunting pattern using milk/dark chocolate for the string and red, blue chocolate for the pennants. You could make any other pattern as well! Let these set for a few minutes in the fridge.


Once set, spread white chocolate on one of the strips and carefully lift it and attach it to one side of the cake. Hold it for a few seconds until it attaches. Repeat with rest of the strips. Once set (only takes a couple minutes), carefully peel off the parchment paper.


Finishing touches
If you’re left with gaps at the edges like I did, pipe in some more frosting or white chocolate to fill those. Add more frosting on top if the collar is taller. Add some sprinkles to make it look pretty!


Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve (actually works best if you take it out a half hour before cutting). 


You can use milk instead of buttermilk in the cake batter, but buttermilk gives better taste and texture. Buttermilk is quite easy to make - add ~1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice to each cup of milk, mix it a little and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it curdles. If using plain milk in the cake recipe, add a little more baking powder and baking soda.