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Kitchen Adventures: Celebrating with a touch of red, white and blue

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Food column by Becca Owsley

By Becca Owsley

The Fourth of July is time for families and friends not only to get together to celebrate freedom but also to eat.

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Picnics and cookouts are everywhere on Independence Day and cooks like to add a little of the red, white and blue to food as well as décor.

This can be done with colorful berries, a variety of colorful gelatin options, sprinkled or iced cookies or, with the help of some food coloring, cake.

A red, white and blue cake looks great on a table with a patriotic theme.

There are recipes for cakes that are made from scratch but one also can be made by using a white cake mix. For the three layer cake, two boxes work.

After following the mixture instructions, divide the batter into three equal parts. Leave one white and use food paste gels to color the other two batters, one red and one blue. Regular food coloring would work as well but the gels often give richer color.

Pour each batter into its own round cake pan and bake.

After the cakes come out of the oven, cool the layers before icing.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. You can use the kind bought from a store if you don’t have time, but making icing from scratch is not hard at all and gives a great taste to the cake.

There are a variety of options for cake icing but the easiest ones often are found right on the package of powdered sugar or on the manufacturer’s website.

Plain buttercream icing only has four ingredients and is easy to make. Add all the ingredients, mix with an electric mixer and you’re done.

After the icing is finished, it’s time to build the cake. Start with the red layer and top with a layer of icing. Then repeat with the white and blue levels. After the cake is built, ice the top and sides.

Remember, the cake doesn’t have to be perfect. I have never made a layered cake that didn’t turn out lopsided. If it’s tasty, a little lopsidedness won’t hurt.

Top the cake with red, white and blue sprinkles for an added touch, or add blueberries and strawberries.

When you cut into the cake you get a festive looking red, white and blue cake just right for the occasion.

While my cake was a success, the Fourth of July fruit drink was a failure.

The recipe is included if you want to give it a try but what the writer of the recipe failed to do is be a little more exact with the kind of fruit punch and Gatorade used to keep the liquids separated. After trying several different combinations, none looked as good as the photo on the site.

The photo showed distinct and equal layers of red, white and blue liquid in the glass. This weekend’s result looked more like a purplish mess with a faint hint of red near the bottom of the glass.

Give it a try if you want and see if you can find the right combination.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

I used two boxes of white cake mix for the cake but if you want to make the cake from scratch follow this recipe.

Red, White and Blue Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
red and blue gel paste coloring

Center two racks in the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 8 or 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Add a spoonful of flour to each, shake it around and tap out the excess.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together buttermilk and egg whites in a medium bowl. In a large separate, large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together butter and sugar; beat at medium speed for a full three minutes, until the mixture is very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the buttermilk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the buttermilk and eggs, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good two minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter evenly between three glass bowls. Color two of the bowls of batter- one dark red and one dark blue. Just add the color a little at a time until you reach the hue you'd like. Scoop each of the batters into their own prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for 8-inch rounds (15 to 20 for 9-inch), or until the cakes have risen and are springy to the touch- a toothpick inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up on wire racks. When cooled, frost the cake as you would a 3-layer cake, frosting each layer before adding the next, and then covering the whole cake with frosting too

www.recipegirl.com

Buttercream Frosting
3 3/4 cups (1 lb. box) Domino® Confectioners Sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl with electric mixer at low speed, combine sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed one to two minutes until creamy. If desired, add more milk until frosting is spreading consistency.
Makes enough to fill and frost a 2-layer cake, a 13x9x2-inch sheet cake or 24 cupcakes.

Domino Sugar recipe

4th of July Kiddie Mocktails  (Adapted from Family Fun magazine)
3 ounces fruit punch
3 ounces blue Gatorade (not sugar-free)
3 ounces diet7-Up or Sprite (must be sugar-free, so diet only)
ice 

Fill glass 1/3 full with ice cubes. Pour fruit punch almost (but not quite) to top of ice cubes. Fill another 1/3 with ice cubes and slowly pour blue Gatorade almost to top of cubes. Fill final 1/3 ice cubes and slowly pour sugar-free Sprite.

www.babycenter.com