Wow your party guests with these festive (and delicious!) vanilla and strawberry cakes.

By Sarah Karnasiewicz

Red White and Blue “Firecracker” Cakes

Hands on time: 35 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
Serves 8-12

What You Need

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 eggs room temperature
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup water
  • 6½ cups confectioners’ sugar plus more for dusting
  • 10 ounces strawberry jam
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Red and blue gel food coloring
  • Black licorice laces trimmed into 4-inch segments
  • Optional: 2 small squeeze bottles (2 small plastic storage bags will also work as a substitute)

Follow These Steps

  1. Heat oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of a jelly roll or half sheet pan with parchment paper. Spray parchment with nonstick cooking spray. Set pan aside.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another, combine the eggs and granulated sugar. Using an electric mixer, whip the egg mixture until very pale and glossy, about 5 minutes. Gently add the vanilla extract and water. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan until it reaches evenly to all sides. Gently tap the pan against countertop to release air bubbles, then transfer to oven. Bake the cake until the surface is pale gold and springs back when touched, about 12-15 minutes.
  4. Spread a damp dish towel on a clean work surface and dust it with a thin layer of confectioners’ sugar (1-2 tablespoons). Invert the pan onto the towel, gently tapping to release the cake. Peel off the parchment paper.
  5. While the cake is still warm, and with the long side closest to your body, slowly roll the towel and the cake into a long log, applying firm but gentle pressure to keep it tight. (The towel will end up coiled inside the cake: this is ok.) Carefully transfer the roll to a baking rack, seam side down, to cool completely (about 1 hour).
  6. Once the cake is cool, slowly unroll it and remove the towel. The cake should remain curled up a bit at the edges; be gentle with it.
  7. Spread jam evenly over the surface of cake, then reroll it, applying firm but gentle pressure to keep it tight. Place the roll seam side down and slice into 4 even segments. Transfer the segments to a baking rack set over a baking sheet.
  8. Make the glaze: Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and add 6½ cups confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. Stir mixture until completely smooth. While still warm, pour ⅔ of the glaze into 2 small squeeze bottles. Add 2-3 drops of red coloring to one bottle and 2-3 drops of blue coloring to the other. Stir until the color is evenly combined.
  9. Spoon the white glaze over the cakes until they are covered. (Excess glaze will run off and collect under the rack on the baking sheet.) Next, use the squeeze bottles to add red and blue zigzag patterns or other festive designs. Allow the glazed cakes to cool completely, until stiff and glossy. Before serving, insert a licorice lace into a rolled end of each cake like a fuse.

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