August 15th marks the 67th Independence Day of the Republic of India. It is a day of great joy and pride to Indians all over the world.
I decided to make a tricolor dessert for a little celebration at home. The Indian flag colors are saffron (a shade of orange), white and green, with a blue wheel in the center. Obviously, I would have to make a dessert that could be layered, set and served easily. A few ides that came into mind were layered jello pudding, layered cheesecake, sweet coconut bars/barfi, kulfi, halva or kesari. I did try out the kesari (Indian pudding made from Semolina or coarse Durum wheat). It did not take the orange color well.
Then I came across this lovely cake on Pinterest. And I was smitten. I was actually in love with a cake! I usually don’t try my hand at frosting, because they are time-consuming, whereas I am Ms. Impatient, and they also contain way too much sugar for my liking. But I loved this cake (did I say that already?) and decided to make a tricolor version for our Independence Day.
DIY Buttercream Frosting Tricolor Petal Cake
To start with, I used my go-to recipe for a simple vanilla cake, the recipe given below will be sufficient to bake two round 5-inch cakes. The layers were cooled and stacked with a touch of frosting in between and then crumb-coated. Once this is done, the cake needs to be chilled to set the coating. I popped it in the freezer for an hour and got to work on the frosting.
The simplest and most comprehensive step-by-step tutorial for the petal effect can be found on The Cake Blog. All you need are a crumb-coated cake, buttercream frosting, food colors of choice, Ziploc bags and tea spoons or a round edged offset spatula. I will also try to explain it as best as I can and look how mine turned out. Not bad, eh?!
You will need:
For the cake (makes two 5-inch layers)
- All purpose flour – 1 1/2 cups
- Baking powder – 1 tsp
- Eggs – 2 large, preferably at room temperature
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Vegetable oil – 6 tbsp
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
- Milk – 1/2 cup
For the buttercream frosting:
- Butter – 1/2 cup, at room temperature
- Powdered or confectioner’s sugar – 2 1/2-3 cups
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Milk – 3-4 tbsp, or as needed
- Food coloring – a few drops each of green and orange (orange can also be made using red and yellow colors)
- Three frosting bags or Ziploc bags
- Three small spoons or a small rounded-edge offset spatula
- Vanilla Cake: Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg.F. Grease two 5-inch round cake pans thoroughly and line the bottoms with foil or parchment paper.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together. Keep aside.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and eggs together for about a minute. Add the oil and vanilla extract and mix well.
- Mix in the dry ingredients and milk alternately, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix till just combined. Do not over mix.
- Divide batter between the cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or till it passes the toothpick test. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Buttercream frosting: In a mixing bowl, first beat the butter well. Add the vanilla extract and 2 1/2 cups of sugar slowly and keep beating on a low-medium setting.
- Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, till desired consistency is reached. If the frosting seems runny, add more powdered sugar.
- Beat well on high speed for 3-4 minutes till the frosting is light and fluffy. (Do not skip this step. It makes the frosting really fluffy and able to hold it’s shape.)
- Petal frosting the cake: Use a little frosting to stack the two cake layers. Crumb coat the cake (add a very light layer of frosting to seal the crumbs, hence the term crumb-coating) and pop it in the freezer for an hour to set the crumb coating.
- Meanwhile, divide the rest of the frosting into three parts. Tint one part green, one part orange and leave the third part white. I always use a few drops of gel food coloring as they give a vibrant color and do not make the frosting runny like liquid colors would do. Refrigerate them till needed.
- When you are ready to frost, take out the cake and place it on your stand/plate with parchment paper strips on the bottom.
- Lightly beat the three colors of frosting if needed and scoop them into three frosting bags (or Ziploc bags with a tiny hole in the bottom).
- We will frost the sides first. Starting from the top, place dots of frosting in a vertical line. My layers were – one orange, two white and one green. Lightly smear each dot to the side with the back of a small spoon or spatula to make a petal shape. Continue dotting and smearing till the sides are fully covered, taking care to keep the petals in a uniform line vertically. It is best to use different spoons for each color or at least remember to wipe the spoon while switching between colors.
- Repeat the technique at the top of the cake, but in a round pattern. Finish with a grape or blueberries at the center to signify the blue wheel.
- If you find all this confusing or if you would like a detailed pictorial tutorial, go here!
- I took a fair amount of time to do the frosting and it turned a little runny towards the end. So if you are attempting this for a special event like a birthday party, I would suggest you to do a trial run using a small cake and one color of frosting to get the hang of the petal technique.
- Needless to say, the petal cake decorating technique is easy to customize for any occasion. And it works well on cakes of any size, shape and color. Your imagination is the limit!
My cake is not all that polished-looking, but the guys of the house loved it. And I love its rustic, homemade look! Also, little Boy got a small lesson in history.
Go here for more of my cake and cupcake recipes.
Here are some Independence Day tricolor food ideas from around blog-land.
Tricolor Dhokla by Tadka Pasta. (Dhokla is a steamed Indian breakfast dish made from fermented batter.)
I am linking this to Sruthi’s Independent India event here.
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