Red, White and Blue Cake

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This Red White and Blue layer cake is made with my favorite vanilla cake, and decorated in a patriotic theme with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles. It’s the perfect cake for a Memorial day BBQ or July 4th party.

a slice of 3 layer cake with layers of blue, white and red cake o a white plate

The best cake for the 4th of July

I could think of about 6 different desserts I’d love to have at a BBQ, but cake is right up there on top. Imagine the looks on your friend’s faces when you slice into this cake to see three different colored layers of cake with the most beautiful frosting on top.

Whether you’re BBQing for Memorial Day or gathering to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July, be sure you bring a stellar dessert like this Red White and Blue cake.

It might look intimidating but trust me, it’s easier than you think. I took my favorite vanilla cake recipe, and simply dyed the cake batter. Then I used my most popular vanilla frosting recipe to decorate it.

Now if layer cakes really aren’t your thing, you might be more interested in the Cupcake Flag Cake or this red, white instead or this blue tye dye poke cake is a little quicker.

a white cake plate with frosted and decorated with red white and blue sprinkles

Simple Cake Ingredients

Readers love my vanilla cake because it’s to throw together and doesn’t require any special ingredients. The recipe uses oil instead of butter which makes for a moist and tender cake but also contributes to the ease of this recipe. It results in a spongy and moist cake.

You’ll need:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Sour cream
  • Milk
  • Dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt

How to color the cake batter

Whether I am coloring frosting, cookie dough or cake batter, I always use gel colors, which are highly concentrated and produce vibrant colors without making them thinner.

Ameri color, Chef Master or Wilton sells lots of individual colors. Wilton however only carries generic colors whereas the other brands have a wider variety of shades of color. Both can be purchased on Amazon or in craft stores such as Michales or JoAnns.

Once you’ve prepared the cake batter, divide the batter into thirds about 1 2/3 cups per color. Leaving one bowl undyed for the white cake. Drop a couple drops in at a time to better control the color. Color each of the other bowls red and blue. Add as much gel as you’d like to achieve the desired color and ensure it’s thoroughly mixed. I used royal blue and super red.

The best vanilla buttercream

My vanilla frosting is simply the best. I use cold butter, and let my mixer do all the work to soften it. The trick is to make sure you really beat the butter in the beginning until it’s super whipped and fluffy.

Be sure to spend the time whipping the frosting at the various stages after adding the powdered sugar. If it feels too thick, keep whipping it or add a little more heavy cream.

If you need a more in depth tutorial, this post covers it all.

What you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter– don’t forget it should be cold!
  • Powdered sugar– It might seem like a lot, but there’s a lot of butter, and you need plenty of butter and sugar to make enough frosting for a 3 layer cake
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Heavy whipping cream– or you can use milk instead.
  • Pinch of salt

Assembling the cake

Level the cake by cutting off the domes on top using a cake level or serrated knife.

Fill the layers: Place the blue cake layer on the bottom. Place about 2 cups of frosting in a large piping bag. You can use either a large open round tip, or simply cut off the end of the piping bag. Pipe a layer of frosting on top of the cake, starting at the outside edge and working your way into the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Next place the white layer, repeat the frosting and then place the red layer on top.

Crumb coat the cake. Use your piping bag to fill in any gaps between your layers. Using an offset spatula or icing smoother, wipe away the excess frosting, leaving you just enough to coat the outside of the cake.

If you need more detailed photos for this process, I have a great tutorial on assembling layer cakes.

a crumb coating plate on a white cake stand

How to decorate with buttercream

Dye the frosting: Separate out 1 ¼ cups of frosting for the decorative board, divide it into thirds. Leave one undyed, and dye one of them red and one of them blue using the gel colors until the desired color is reached.

Fill the piping bag: Lay out a piece of plastic wrap, spread (or use a Ziploc bag to pipe) a thick row of each color of frosting side-by-side onto the clear wrap. Fold the plastic wrap up and tightly roll, twist one end and cut the tip off. Drop the plastic wrap into a piping bag fitted with an Ateco 848 (or any closed star tip). Set aside.

Finish frosting: Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake using your offset spatula. Once the sides of the cake are covered, use you icing smoother (affiliate link) to remove any excess frosting.

Add the decorations: Before the frosting has set, use your hand to press the sprinkles into the cake along the bottom edge. Pipe the boarder on top of the cake with the tricolor frosting.

A piping tip frosting a border of a cake with red frosting

Storing a frosted cake

The best option is to use a cake carrier which can allow it to be stored in an airtight container for best results.

You do not have the refrigerate this cake unless you live in a hot a humid environment. Since the frosting is made with butter, it will melt in the heat. If you need to refrigerate the cake, try to do so in airtight container. It’s best to serve at room temperature, so remove the cake in plenty of time prior to serving.

a slice of 3 layer cake with layers of blue, white and red cake. Patriotic confetti on the table.
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a slice of 3 layer cake with layers of blue, white and red cake. Patriotic confetti on the table.

Red, White and Blue Cake

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 90 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 slices

Description

This Red White and Blue layer cake is made with my favorite vanilla cake, and decorated in a patriotic theme with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles. It’s the perfect cake for a Memorial day BBQ or July 4th party.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups (380g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (118 ml) sour cream
  • 2 ½ cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (11.2 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (296 ml) milk (I use nonfat)
  • Gel colors- super red & royal blue

For the frosting

  • 2 ½ cups (576g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 8 cups (1041g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 23 tablespoons (30-44ml) heavy whipping cream (or milk)
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round baking pans line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. Prepare with bake even strips if desired.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Alternate adding half the dry ingredients, and half the milk at a time, mixing on low speed until all of the ingredients are well combined, repeat until all ingredients are added. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and ensure it’s well mixed.
  4. To dye the cake batter, divide it into thirds about 1 2/3 cups per color. Leaving one bowl undyed for the white cake, and then color each of the other bowls red and blue. Add as much gel as you’d like to achieve the desired color and ensure it’s thoroughly mixed.
  5. Add the batter to the prepared pans. Bake at 350°F for approximately 20-23 minutes. Rotate your pans in the oven halfway through baking (after about 10 minutes). Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, you cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the frosting

  1. Cut butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until the butter looks light in color.
  2. Alternate adding 2 cups of powdered sugar at a time with the liquid ingredients: vanilla extract & heavy cream. Ensure the powdered sugar is well combined, then and whip for 1-2 minutes before adding more powdered sugar. Repeat until all ingredients are added.
  3. Once all the powdered sugar has been added, increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 3-5 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting.

To assemble and decorate

  1. Use a cake leveler to cut the domes off the top of the cake. Place a dollop of frosting on your cake board and place the bottom layer of cake on top of that.
  2. Place about 2 cups of frosting in a large piping bag fitted with a large open round tip, or simply cut off the end of the piping bag. Place the blue layer on the bottom. Pipe a layer of frosting on top of the cake, starting at the outside edge and working your way into the middle. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Place the white layer next. Repeat the frosting with the second layer of cake and then place the red layer on top.
  3. Use your piping bag to fill in any gaps between your layers and to create a crumb coat. Using an offset spatula or  icing smoother, wipe away the excess frosting, leaving just enough to coat the outside of the cake. Do not mix your crumb coating frosting back into your icing if it has cake debris in it.
  4. Separate out 1 ¼ cups of frosting for the decorative board, divide it into thirds. Leave one undyed, and dye one of them red and one of them blue using the gel colors until the desired color is reached.
  5. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap, spread (or use a Ziploc bag to pipe) a thick row of each color of frosting side-by-side onto the clear wrap. Fold the plastic wrap up and tightly roll, twist one end and cut the tip off. Drop the plastic wrap into a piping bag fitted with an Ateco 848 (or any closed star tip). Set aside.
  6. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake using your offset spatula. Once the sides of the cake are covered, use you icing smoother  to remove any excess frosting.
  7. Before the frosting has set, use your hand to press the sprinkles into the cake along the bottom edge. Pipe the boarder on top of the cake with the tricolor frosting and fill the middle with remaining sprinkles.

Notes

Storing a frosted cake- The best option is to use a cake carrier which can allow it to be stored in an airtight container. You do not have the refrigerate this cake unless you live in a hot a humid environment. If you need to refrigerate the cake, try to do so in airtight container. It’s best to serve at room temperature, so remove the cake in plenty of time prior to serving.

Nutrition Information:
1 slice
1005
113g
240mg
50g
136g
.8g
5.9g
153mg
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: July 4th dessert, patriotic dessert, vanilla cake

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2 Responses
  1. Margaret

    I made this for my little firecracker’s July 3rd red, white, and blue party. The instructions were clear, tips/tutorials very helpful and the cake was delicious!

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