Show your patriotic pride with a cake shaped like Uncle Sam's hat that has red and blue stars inside!
The 4th of July is a great holiday to create a spectacular dessert, and this Uncle Sam Hat Cake will really wow everyone at your party or picnic. The exterior of the cake is pretty impressive looking, but I'm guessing before the first fireworks light up the sky, you'll hear lots of oohs and ahhs as soon as you serve your first slice.
With each cut of this very tall cake, you'll reveal red and blue tie-dye stars hiding inside. The cake is quite large and will feed a crowd, which is great for me as we often attend picnics with lots of friends and family. We all gather together to celebrate this summer holiday, grill out, play games, and eat a lot of food before settling down on our blankets to watch vibrant colors fill the sky.
If you want to make this cake for your celebration, be sure to plan ahead as you need some special pans. In order for the stars to really show up inside your cakes, you need to bake the batter in tall pans. I used two 6-inch round spring-form pans and one 8-inch round spring-form pan, all of which were 3-inches tall. Sadly, 2-inch tall pans will not work. Believe me, I tried! If you use the taller pans your stars will show up nicely inside each cake layer.
The first step is creating the red and blue cake that will be cut into stars; so whip up one cake mix and divide the batter in half, then color one half red and the other half blue.
Then go a little wild drizzling the red and blue cake batter into a baking sheet. I used a large 18x13-inch pan, but two 9x13-inch pans will work well too. Drizzle half of the batter into each of the two pans.
Once you finish using all the blue and red cake batter, pop the pan(s) into the oven and bake the cake(s). Let them cool for 20 minutes, then freeze for at least an hour. You want the cake nice and firm so it's easy to cut.
Use a 1-inch star cookie cutter to make about 45 red and blue swirled stars. Once they are all cut, pop them back in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
Get your pans ready for the cake batter by greasing them with shortening and dusting with flour or spraying them with non-stick spray. To make it easier to remove the baked cakes, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper rounds or some non-stick tin foil. I tried out both and they each worked well.
Make more cake batter using two cake mixes. Fill each round pan with 1 cup or so of batter, enough to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
Grab the stars out of the freezer and arrange them in a circle in the center of each pan. I used 41 stars to create my circles.
Make the circles the same size in each pan. You'll be carving off part of the larger cake and you don't want to cut away part of your stars, so keeping the circle of stars the same as in the smaller pans works great.
Pour the remaining batter into the pans, completely covering the stars. Be careful as you pour so the stars don't fall over or break. I started by pouring about a cup of batter into the center of the pan, and then drizzled batter around the edge of the pan, then over top of the stars.
Bake the cakes in the middle rack of your oven. The cakes will most likely crack on the top as they bake. That's because the pans are really full of batter. It's all right, as you'll be cutting off the domed tops anyway.
Be patient for a few hours and let the cakes cool. Once they're ready, cut off the domed tops. I cut a slit into each of my cakes and peeked inside just to be sure I wasn't cutting off the tops of the red and blue stars. Then I finished cutting and removed the tops. If you do see the stars, begin a new cut and remove less of the dome.
Set one of the 6-inch round cakes on a cake board. Add lots of fluffy Betty Crocker Whipped White Frosting on top and stack on the other 6-inch cake and frost the top of that too.
Carve the 8-inch cake to make the top of the Uncle Sam Hat. His hat kind of flares out at the top. To carve the cake, I found it easiest to put the bottom circle from the 6-inch spring-form pan on top of my 8-inch cake. I used a long knife to cut at an angle from the edge of the 6-inch round down to the edge of the cake. It was a great start.
Once I placed the carved cake on top of the other cakes, I carved it a bit more just to get the right shape, and then I frosted the entire thing. I could have covered the cake in fondant, but wanted to keep this a bit easier to decorate, so I just smoothed out the white frosting and added fondant decorations to it.
To determine how to cut the stripes for the hat, I measured the stacked cake from top to bottom, rolled out some red fondant, and cut 7 strips that were the height of the cake and about 1 3/8-inch wide. Then I let the strips dry for a while so they would be easier to handle.
Since the cake was frosted, attaching stripes to the cake was easy. I just pressed them on, spacing them about 1 3/8-inch apart.
Then I measured the top of the cake and made a big red circle of fondant to put on top. I cut another larger red circle of fondant out, placed it on an even larger cake board and put a dab of frosting in the center. I very carefully lifted the cake and set it in the center of the red fondant circle. I took one more measurement around the base of the cake, cut a blue strip of fondant and wrapped it around the base of the cake.
The final touch was making white fondant stars, which I added to the blue hatband.
When you bring the cake to your 4th of July party, be sure to gather your friends and family around just before you cut it – then surprise everyone when you reveal the hidden stars!
Happy 4th of July!
Beth happily spends her days creating fun food and handmade chocolate and enjoys sharing step-by-step tutorials with her readers on her blog, Hungry Happenings. Be sure to check out her profile to see all the other festive foods she's made for Tablespoon.com.