Friday, June 22, 2012

The Cake of Freedom

We're back from Camp! We survived! I'm still not unpacked...but I'm home. Em takes her tests this weekend, and then we'll be able to be back in full swing! Hooray! 

In the meantime though...

The 4th of July is coming up! YEA! I really love the 4th of July. Fireworks, family, good food, America! We had a Pinstrosity submitted to us today just in time for a jump into Independence Day. Check out this awesome cake!
The Original Pin
I'm not supposed to be eating sugar right now, but that picture's making it a little difficult. MMmm. Pinner Taylor saw this cake and knew she had to make it. "When I saw this cake I instantly thought of my brother. He loves being American. I know, I know... we all do. But he REALLY is proud. When he went to study abroad this summer I wanted to make it for him as a welcome home surprise. The night before his return my mom and i decided to make the cake. We started at about 8 p.m. (that was the first mistake of many) By the time all of the cakes were made and cooled it was about 1 am. I then made the icing. (only to be interrupted by my drunk friend who needed a ride home from the bars) At about 3 oclock the icing and layering began. the cake kept shifting and the layers began to break. by 430 a.m. i decided it was the thought that counted and called in a night. i threw it in the fridge in hopes of solidifying the icing before it fell over. not so simple i guess."
The Pinstrosity

Taylor continues her story, "Anyhow, when he got home I gave him the cake and he loved the thought behind it. :) He also said I'll have to practice before I make it for his celebration when he becomes President of the United States. I don't think I'll be making this pinstrosity ever again..."

It may not look exactly like Ol' Glory, but it still looks tasty to me! Now, I'm not a cake guru...making a good cake is on my list of thing to learn, so I don't know any specific tips to give here other than what I know I would try if I were to attempt this right now and what I am finding on Google. Here's what I've got: 

1. First off, the thin red layers. I didn't have any clue about how to even start cutting layers, so I googled "Cutting Thin Cake Layers" and came across this genius idea: Toothpicks and dental floss. Check it out!

2. Then, how to frost it so it's smooth. Again...I haven't had great luck with this, so I just now googled "How to Frost a Cake" and this great article popped up (which also sports the toothpick and dental floss method for slicing):

But most of all I'd have to agree with Taylor...maybe the late night was what did it in. I know that'd do it for me! 

I know we have some bakers who follow along, do any of you have some little pearls of wisdom you'd like to share here?



  1. Start earlier... that is a huge help. Um.... trial and error, lots of practice. Not sure what other advice to give. If it starts to get warm and the icing starts to melt put it in the fridge for a few minutes.

  2. I think the links you posted here would be a big help to anyone trying to recreate this. When comparing the original with the pinstrosity, you can see that the original is torted (this means they split each cake in half, probably using the toothpick & string/floss method) so you have twice as many layers. Counting the layers I believe the original is two batches of cake, so 4 round cakes total.
    Other suggestions off the top of my head would be to make sure you level the tops of your cakes to get nice flat layers before you torte them, and make your frosting a little thicker. If using store bought frosting, just add some powdered sugar and mix it in. Making sure your layers are level and your frosting is really thick should cure the cake-sliding-around problem.

  3. Great suggestion Diedre!

    I think the cake is better than I could have done. Sadly, I don't have the patience for these things. Changes are, my cake would have turned out purple (you know, red and blue make purple....)

  4. 1. Layers this thin are really, really hard. I did a flag cake and used only 5 stripes. Thin layers break really easily. Also, with really thin layers, you have to use a cake with a sturdy, fine texture, like pound cake.
    2. The more layers, the more opportunity for slipping. Also, warm or soft frosting can cause slippage? As Diedre said, adding powdered sugar would help.
    3. Always give yourself lots and lots of time for a fancy cake. Well rested is good also :-)
    4. Did I mention that this is one of the most difficult non-wedding cakes on pinterest?
    5. I use a $12 cake leveler from Joann to cut layers

  5. Hello! I read this post and thought I'd include a link to a tool that will help cut really thin layers.

    This one is a little expensive, I got mine at a specialty store in my town for about $20 but the concept is still the same and it works great!

    1. Ooh, that looks like it'd be handy! Thanks for the link.

  6. freezing the layers before frosting help with "slippage."

  7. I'm a cake decorator, and in my time doing it I've learned a few tips that may help a little.

    1. Don't use box cake if you consider it. Box cake is WAY to airy and moist for it.
    2. If you put an extra egg in the batter it can stiffen the cake up a little.
    3. I freeze the cake as a whole, and when I go to cut it into layers I pull it out about an hour before doing so. In that stage it's still stiff, but not as hard to cut.
    4. Freeze the cake layers again after they're cut, and start layering them when they've gotten frozen. That way they won't start falling apart, and It will help stiffen up the frosting as well so that it's not sliding.

    Those are just a few tips.

  8. A huge part of the 'slipage' is due to using store bought icing. That stuff is way too 'slippery'. When making a cake that you want to actually come out nice for other people, ALWAYS buy or make buttercream or royal icing. Its made for decorating and after each layer, put it in the fridge for 15mins. It will stiffen up and you can add the next layer :)

  9. I also like to do a "crumb coat" for any cakes that have lots of layers. Basically, after you get you cake stacked, stick it in the freezer for a bit to let the icing holding the layers together get good and solid. Then put one thin layer of icing all over the whole cake. Don't worry about any crumbs getting in, that's why this one is called the crumb coat. Then stick it in th freezer again. That lets the icing harden again and stick all the crumbs in place. Then you can frost like normal and make it beautiful. As far as smoothing the last layer, I like to get it as smooth as I can, and then I actually use a paper towel and just softly wipe it even.

  10. I'm from Maryland so perhaps the answer to this one is more obvious to me than to others because our official state cake (I know, right?) is the Smith Island Cake which has 13 layers. The solution is that the layers are each baked separately by only putting enough batter in the pan to completely cover the bottom. The downside is that you need 8 pans for this recipe to work out.

  11. Glad to know I'm not the only one to have a Pinstrosity with this cake! I taught cake decorating for several years, so I know all the tricks, but this was still a disaster! After trying valiantly for an hour to piece broken layers back together with frosting, I ended up scraping half the mess off into the trash can (including all the blue cake), adding my leftover red and white cake rings to the top, and filling the hole in the middle up with blueberries. Of course, this required a 2am trip to Wal-Mart for emergency frosting and blueberries! I tried to add fireworks designs to the white frosting using the tube gel colors and edible glitter, and ended up just making a bigger mess. My coworkers were gracious, and I'm told it still tasted great, even if it was the ugliest cake I've ever made! No more layer cakes for me. I'm sticking to cupcakes from now on!

  12. I made this cake for 4th July this year and it was awesome! Made my own buttercream icing and used box cake mixes (like I always do). Perfection. Everyone was impressed. I didn't freeze my layers as I have a cake saw that slices right through the layers. I did dirty ice it first before putting the finishing layer of frosting on. Dipping your frosting knife in warm/hot water helps to smooth out the frosting.

  13. A cake leveler would be helpful.

    I always freeze my cakes before I level them, and rarely use box mixes (too airy) or canned frosting. Buttercream or another stiffer frosting will work better.

  14. The original design for this cake is from 17 and Baking, here: Credit where credit is due!

    Her cake may not be as impressive as the beautiful thin layers above, but it's a heck of a lot easier. I've made it for years without any problems, you can too! Oh and check out her Cream Cheese Frosting recipe on the same page, it's to die for!

    1. Thank you for the extra link. While writing up this post we found many sites that had pictures and tutorials for "Hidden Flag Cakes" so giving credit to someone as the original creator was not possible. So we linked to the picture that our submitter used and followed for their inspiration.

  15. You have to let the cakes cool.completely or they will crumble. I'm going to guess based on her timelime that played a part in her cake fiasco.

  16. I would have frozen the layers, and I think baking each layer seperately would be easier, the more you mess with it (slice etc..) the crumblier it is going to be. Also the icing between layers is pretty thick, this could add a Lot to the splipage. I freeze all my cakes. Make them tur out moister when you freeze them still slightly warm. Also a nice home made butter cream that is medium to stiff consistency would make a difference.


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