Happy 4th of July! Red and Blue Velvet Layer Cake

Monday is the 4th of July, so it’s time to break out the red, white and blue! I’ve been focusing so much on bread baking lately that I was really excited to make this layer cake for independence day.  While looking for inspiration, I had a hard time finding cakes that didn’t hurt my eyes with over the top colors or cakes that didn’t  resemble a large flag. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the flag cake, but I wanted to try something a little different and a bit more subtle.

I wanted more of a “vintage Americana” look, so  I used fondant in red, white and blue to make these millinery inspired flowers with little button centers. To make these flowers, cut 2-3 circles of different sizes and use the end of a ball tool to frill the edges. Place the circle on a piece of soft foam, or in the palm of your hand, and roll the ball tool along the edge of the fondant. This will help it ruffle up. Use a drop of water to connect the pieces together and then a bit of frosting to attach the flower to your cake. For the button holes, I just pressed the tip of a small piping tip into small rounds of fondant. It’s been a little while since I’ve done fondant work, so forgive me for starting small.

This cake desperately needed something on top. I can’t decide if these are pinwheels or abstract fireworks…. Either way, for the toppers, I cut 2 medium sized rectangles from blue striped paper, and red tissue paper. Accordion fold the paper then tie the middle. Fan out the edges and connect them to each other to form the pinwheel/starburst design. I wrapped some small popsicle sticks with red and blue bakers twine and hot glued them to the paper. Easy!

I couldn’t let the inside of the cake be plain! This is to celebrate the birth of a nation forgoodnesssake. I made this cake with my treasured red velvet cake recipe and used blue coloring in half the batter. If I were to make this cake again,  I would omit the cocoa powder from the blue portion because it didn’t turn out the bright blue color I was hoping for. Also, I used a cooked buttercream frosting. I’m against cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake. I’ve been eating red velvet cake long before it was trendy and I really think the cream cheese is too strong of a flavor. Proper red velvet cake is made with buttermilk and a little cocoa powder. A thick slab of cream cheese frosting completely obliterates the subtle tang and the delicate chocolate flavor of the cake. I hope you trust me and try red velvet with this frosting instead one day, it really accents the flavor of the cake rather than hiding it.

Proper Red Velvet Cake (From Grandma Cupcake, written on an index card much older than I am. That’s how you know it’s a winner.)

Makes one 8″ cake


  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1oz red food coloring (or 1/2 oz red and 1/2 oz blue for this striped version)
  • 10z water (some call for 2 oz coloring, but I think this is overkill and substitute half with water. Also, red color can have a bitter cake when overused)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Pre heat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 8″ cake pans and set aside. Cream the shortening and sugar for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. In a very small bowl, mix the coloring, water and cocoa powder together to smooth out any lumps from the cocoa. Add the the creamed mixture. Add the salt and vanilla and mix well. With the mixer running on low, add half the flour, followed by half the buttermilk, then the remaining flour, then the remaining buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. mix the baking soda and vinegar together and quickly add the foamy mixture the the batter. Fold it in with a rubber spatula.

Proper Frosting for Red Velvet Cake

This recipe looks very strange, but you’re just going to have to trust me and try it. It’s delicious.


  • 2 cups butter (that’s 4 sticks – I told you this was good frosting!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour (10 Tablespoons total)
  • 2 cups milk (preferably whole)

Combine the flour and milk in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Cook this over medium heat stirring constantly until very thick. Let the flour/milk mixture cool completely. This may take an hour or so, stir it occasionally to speed up the process but do not proceed until it is completely cool. If you don’t wait long enough your frosting will melt – not a good thing. Once everything is cool, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, around five minutes. Add the milk mixture and keep beating until everything is well combined and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and you’re ready to frost your cake! Also, always make sure your cake layers are really truly cool all the way to the center before frosting. You can refrigerate them to speed this up. Once again, warm cake layers will make your frosting melt.

Then, you can frost and decorate your cake any way you like! This cake is deliciously moist with a truly classic flavor. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has!

Happy Independence Day from Jillian Cupcake!!!



  1. Beautiful! Looks delicious – as usual! Happy almost 4th of July! Happy Birthday, America! God Bless the USA! 🙂

  2. ddd,
    i hope your blog will put an end to the crime of putting cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake forever!
    even if i do think cream cheese is good enough to be it’s own food group.


  1. […] July 4, 2011 Leave a Comment Happy 4th of July! I know I shared a patriotic layer cake with you last week to help get you in the spirit, but I couldn’t let the real holiday go by […]

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