It’s time to wish A Glass of Milk a happy second birthday.
Guess how I did it?
I’ll give you a hint.
I baked my blog a cake.
Since its real birthday is on the 4th of July.
Side note–remember when you were in elementary school and you had to explain to your friends that you weren’t having your birthday party on your real birthday? Makes me wonder–what’s a fake birthday? Is it like an un-birthday from Alice in Wonderland? I love that book.
I made my blog a cake (thanks again, Ina). A cake that could also be used for America, or for a 4th of July barbecue. Which is, in fact, exactly how this cake was used. I bought a brand new half-sheet pan from the finest of cookware stores and got ready to tackle a cake that I’ve seen for years, and never had the courage to make.
Turns out? I wasn’t really tackling anything. The sheer size of this baby was crazy intimidating to me, but it turns out that it comes together just like any other cake, and with simple, classic ingredients. I didn’t even make it in my own kitchen, so everything, from cake to icing, was done with a hand mixer, not my stand mixer. I don’t know what I was so worried about. The most labor-intensive part was putting the berries on the cake, but even that wasn’t a hassle. I had Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean entertaining me as I worked.
Sidenote Number 2: Their podcasts remind me so much of The Delicious Dish in the best way possible.
Sidenote Number 3: 7th grade Jennie stayed up late to watch Saturday Night Live when that episode first aired. How do I know it was that specific episode? Easy. That was the episode Hanson was on, and I have the whole show practically memorized I’ve seen it so often.
Back to the cake. It’s a show-stopper, tastes great, comes together easily (can be made partially, or altogether, in advance by a day or two), feeds millions, and is worth serving at any occasion for which red, white and blue are the theme. Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day. You could make it on Bastille Day if you’re so inclined, just change the placement of those berries a little.
To make half a sheet cake that will keep at least 20 people sated, you will need:
- 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
To make the frosting, you will need:
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
And to top of the cake, you will need:
- 1 pint blueberries
- 4 half-pints raspberries
*Why blueberries are sold by the pint, and raspberries, by the half-pint, I will never understand.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prep the pan — you have two options. If you would like to attempt to take this cake out of the pan after it has baked and cooled (why you would risk such a feat is beyond me, but to each his own), you will need to butter the sheet pan, lay parchment paper over it, and butter and flour the parchment. Alternatively, you can opt to serve the cake straight from the pan, in which case you need only butter and flour the pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer until it’s light and fluffy. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs on low speed, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla. As with any and all mixing, scrape down the sides as you go.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda, and stir in the salt (you can try and sift it, but my Kosher salt is always too big for the sifter). With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients slowly, stopping to incorporate things as you go. Make sure to mix only till just incorporated.Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Because this cake is so large, you would do yourself a lot of good to rotate it 180 degrees about halfway through baking, say, 12 minutes.
Cool the cake to room temperature. You could stop here, cool the cake completely, cover the top with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you’re ready to frost. Or you could roll up your sleeves, and keep going. Making the frosting is a snap.
Using whatever mixer you so choose, combine all of the frosting ingredients and beat until smooth. I usually add the frosting about a cup at a time.
Slap about 3/4 of the frosting on the cake and smooth it out. You could stop here, refrigerate the cake, reserving the remaining 1/4 of the frosting, covered, in the bowl, or in a container. When you get started again, take the frosting out of the fridge about a half hour before you need it so it can warm up a little, making it easier to pipe.
To decorate the cake, outline the top right corner of the cake with a toothpick, or the tip of a knife. Fill with blueberries. Arrange the raspberries in two rows at the very top of the cake. Pipe two rows of frosting right beneath them. You can pipe using a fancy pastry bag and a star tip, or you can dump the frosting in a gallon sized plastic bag, and snip off the corner. That’s what I did. I don’t have fancy pastry bags. Keep going with the raspberries and icing until you’ve reached the bottom of the cake. Confession – I put all the berries on the cake first, as I was a little afraid they’d bleed (they didn’t). I put the cake in the fridge, kissed it goodnight, and piped the white stripes in between the next morning. I had to eyeball things a smidge, but it all worked out just fine.
*If you, like me, are even more inspired to make something upon watching its creator make it first, click here. It’s from Ina’s first season. I know this because you can see the green striped wallpaper in her kitchen, which you couldn’t in later seasons. Is it sad that I know this?