This Fourth of July cake is simple to make but is still a festive and patriotic dessert perfect for the summer!
I know, I know. It’s not even June and I’m already posting Fourth of July desserts. Can we still be friends? I’m shameless and will totally buy your friendship with baked goods.
I wanted to get this cake out there before Memorial Day in case someone wants an America cake for the long weekend.
Remember the mermaid cake I posted a few weeks ago? This is the patriotic version. I used the same technique for the cake layers because it’s easy but looks super complicated.
For the cake layers themselves, we just use a doctored up cake mix. Adding sour cream and instant pudding makes the cake so fluffy and positively heavenly.
To get stripes in the cake layers, you just layer small (about 2 tablespoons) scoops of batter in alternating colors in your cake pans. Yes, it takes more energy than a solid-colored cake. And yes, it’s totally worth the extra five or so minutes of prep time. The layered batter will look something like this:
You’ll want to use gel food coloring because to get a true blue, you have to use a lot of the liquid stuff. This is the blue I used.
If you’ve been reading along here for awhile, you might remember last year’s Fourth of July cake debacle, where my kitchen ended up looking like a slaughterhouse after I mixed the red food coloring into my cake batter. I’m happy to say this year, not only did my kitchen stay clean, but I remembered to use rubber gloves while I was making the frosting so my hands remained their normal color.
I highly recommend the gloves.
How to dye frosting red
If you’ve ever had the (dis)pleasure of dyeing frosting red, you may have wondered why the heck is my frosting PINK? I used red food coloring!
It’s exceptionally difficult to get a true red frosting with food coloring alone. Adding a small amount of cocoa powder (as specified in the recipe below) deepens the color, allowing you to use less dye. Again, you’ll want to use gel food coloring—this is the food coloring I used.
Four teaspoons of cocoa powder allowed me to get the exact shade of red I wanted; you may need more or less depending on the shade you’re going for. I recommend starting with 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder and adding more as necessary.
Do you have big plans for Independence Day? I don’t have any at this point, other than devouring at least two slices of this Fourth of July cake. Calories don’t count on America’s birthday!
If you make this Fourth of July cake, be sure to leave me a comment and a rating below–let me know what you think! Post a pic over on Instagram too. Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see!
This Fourth of July cake is simple to make and is a festive addition to your summer barbecues!
- 1 15.25-ounce box white cake mix*
- 1 3.4-ounce box instant white chocolate pudding mix
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 large egg whites
- blue gel food coloring
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups powdered sugar
- 3 to 5 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- red gel food coloring you’ll need about 1 to 1.5 ounces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and set pans aside.
Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, vegetable oil, sour cream, milk, and egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until well combined. Pour half of the batter into a second mixing bowl and mix blue food coloring into one of the bowls to achieve your desired shade of blue.
Drop a large spoonful (about 2 tablespoons) of white batter into one of the prepared pans. Top that with a large spoonful of blue batter, and continue layering the batter until you’ve used half of each color. Jiggle the pan occasionally to even the batter out. Repeat with the second cake pan and the remaining batter.
Bake cake layers for 30 to 34 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool in pans for 20 minutes, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until very smooth. Add 4 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix on low until well combined then add food coloring to achieve desired color. Turn mixer to medium and mix until food coloring is fully incorporated. Add additional powdered sugar if frosting is too thin and additional milk or cream if it is too thick.
If your cake layers have domed, use a long serrated knife to trim them. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or cardboard cake circle and spread or pipe frosting in an even layer over it. Top with the second cake layer and frost with the remaining frosting. Decorate as desired, then serve.
*I used Pillsbury