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Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake

This Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake has three layers of homemade vanilla cake, filled with cherry filling, frosted with Swiss meringue buttercream and garnished with fondant stars.

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake three quarter angle of cake on pedestal.

In this post I’ll share my process for making the fondant stars, baking the cake layers, making the cherry filling, buttercream, and the process for making buttercream stripes with the use of a cake comb.

How To Make Fondant Stars

Supplies

  • Blue fondant
  • Red fondant
  • Gum paste glue
  • Small fondant rolling pin
  • Star cutters in various sizes
  • Red and blue luster dust
  • Small paint brushes
  1. Roll out fondant with a fondant roller and cut out different sized star shapes in coordinating colors. 
  2. Dust stars with luster dust and set aside to dry overnight. 
  3. Once the stars are dry, stack them up in three layers by attaching the stars with a bit of gum paste glue then set aside to dry.

How to make gumpaste glue

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon tylose powder

Combine the warm water and tylose powder until the powder is dissolved. Or, place a small piece of gumpaste in the water and set aside to dissolve on its own. Gum paste glue can last up to 3 months in the refrigerator.

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake overhead shot of fondant stars.

How To Make Cherry Filling

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. 
  2. Add the cherries, lemon juice and water and cook over medium heat. 
  3. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from burning. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Cool for 15 minutes before transferring to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. 

Cake Ingredients

  • Whole milk: thins out the batter, generates steam during baking and helps gluten develop when it interacts with the flour.
  • Egg whites: this cake uses egg whites instead of whipped egg whites to reduce the holes in the cake layers.
  • Vanilla extract: enhances flavor.
  • Bubble gum flavoring: gives the cake its flavor.
  • Sour cream: lends a tangy flavor to the cake and creates a moist texture. Buttermilk or yogurt can be substituted for sour cream.
  • Cake flour: also known as soft flour, contains less protein than all-purpose flour. And creates a delicate and fine crumbed cake.
  • Granulated sugar: sweetens the cake and easily mixes in to cake batter.
  • Baking powder: is a mixture of baking soda and cornstarch. Baking powder works twice by coming in contact with liquid and then again when it comes into contact with heat.
  • Baking soda: is an alkali and must be used with an acidic ingredient such as sour cream.
  • Salt: enhances the cakes flavor.
  • Unsalted butter: adds a rich flavor and creates texture in the cake.
  • Pink gel food coloring: gives the cake its pink swirl effect. I used Americolor Electric Pink.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Tips and Troubleshooting

  • Your mixer bowl should be completely dry and clean before use.
  • There should be no grease residue on the bowl and your egg whites should be free of egg yolks.
  • Whisk together the sugar and egg whites well, or the eggs may start to cook on their own.
  • Make sure the double boiler stays at a simmer. 
  • Your butter should be room temperature before using.
  • Add your butter by tablespoon to the meringue.
  • The buttercream should be as smooth as possible. 
  • To help remove air bubbles, run the mixer on low speed for one minute.
  • If the buttercream looks curdled in the final stages then the butter was probably too cold   when added to the meringue. Keep mixing longer until it comes together.
  • If the buttercream looks soupy but not separated, then the meringue was probably too warm when the butter was added. Place the mixer bowl in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes and beat until the buttercream comes together.

Cake Assembly

Place a nonslip mat on top of your cake turntable. Place a 10 inch cake board on top. Spread a small amount of buttercream in the center to act as glue for the cake. Center one cake layer on an 8-inch cake board and place the cake board on the 10-inch cake board on the cake turntable. Fit a piping bag with a round piping tip or coupler and fill with about 1 1/2 cups buttercream. Pipe a buttercream dam around the edge of the cake. 

Place half of the cherry filling in the center and spread out in an even layer with a small offset cake spatula. Place the second cake layer on top and pipe a buttercream dam on the edge. Spread the remaining cherry filling on top in an even layer until it reaches the buttercream dam. Place the third cake layer on top (bottom side up). 

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake overhead shot of buttercream dam with cherry filling.

Crumb Coating Tips

  • When crumb coating a cake, be sure not to return any buttercream or frosting that contains crumbs in it back to your original bowl of buttercream/frosting.
  • Start with a small amount of buttercream/frosting for better control.
  • Use a cake turntable for the best results.
Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake crumb coated cake.

How To Make Buttercream Stripes With A Cake Comb

  • Apply a large dollop of uncolored buttercream on the top of the cake and smooth out. You should have excess frosting hanging off the edges.
  • Line an acrylic disc with parchment paper and place it on top of the cake, gently pressing down to adhere. Apply buttercream to the sides of the cake.
  • Take a cake comb and gently press it against the bottom cake board and the top acrylic disc and rotate the cake turntable to smooth out the buttercream and create indentations for the colored buttercream to be piped on. Apply more buttercream to the spots that have gaps and rotate the turntable a few more times until you’re happy with the look, cleaning the cake comb with each rotation. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. The Cake Chica’s Tip: Your cake must be well chilled before applying the colored buttercream stripes.
  • Fit two piping bags with couplers or a plain round piping tip that is roughly the size of the indentations. Fill one bag with red buttercream and the other bag with blue buttercream.
  • Pipe colored buttercream in alternating colors in the indentations.
  • Using a small offset spatula, gently press the buttercreams into the ridges.
  • Using a smooth edge cake scraper, gently rotate the turntable to smooth out the colored buttercreams. Clean your cake scraper and rotate again to clean up the cake sides and finish up the cake stripes.

Cake Decorating

Decorate the sides of the cake with fondant stars by using a bit of leftover buttercream to attach the stars. Place remaining buttercream in one piping bag fitted with Ateco piping tip #828 and pipe 8 swirls around the top edge of the cake. Pour festive sprinkles in the center. Carefully transfer cake to a cake pedestal and serve.

Cake Decorating Tools

  • Nonslip mat
  • Cake turntable
  • 10-inch round cake board
  • 8-inch round cake board
  • Piping bags
  • Couplers or round piping tips
  • Small offset cake spatula
  • Americolor Electric Blue gel food coloring
  • Americolor Red Red gel food coloring
  • 8-inch round acrylic disc or 8-inch round cake board
  • Cake comb
  • Cake scraper
  • Ateco piping tip #828
Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake overhead shot of cake on cake pedestal.

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake Baking Schedule

  • Day 1: Make fondant stars and prepare the filling.
  • Day 2: Bake vanilla cake layer.
  • Day 3: Prepare the Swiss meringue buttercream, assemble, decorate, and serve.
Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake on cake pedestal.

Make Ahead

Fondant stars: can be made up to 2 weeks in advance, stored at room temperature.

Cherry filling: can be made up to 7 days in advance, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Vanilla cake layers: can be made up to 5 days in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake close up three quarter angle of cake on cake pedestal.

Cake Storage

Assembled cake: can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake with cake slice.

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Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake close up of cake layers.

Related Post

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake on cake pedestal.

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes

Stars and Stripes Vanilla Cake has three layers of homemade vanilla cake, filled with cherry filling, frosted with Swiss meringue buttercream and garnished with fondant stars.

Ingredients

SPECIAL TOOLS

  • 3 8-inch round cake pans
  • Nonstick baking spray
  • 4 cup liquid measuring cup
  • Stand mixer
  • Candy thermometer
  • Nonslip mat
  • Cake turntable
  • 10-inch cake board
  • 8-inch cake board
  • Piping bags
  • Couplers or round piping tips
  • Small offset cake spatula
  • Americolor Electric blue gel food coloring
  • Americolor Red Red gel food coloring
  • 8-inch round acrylic disc
  • Cake comb
  • Cake scraper
  • Ateco piping tip #828

FONDANT STARS

  • Red fondant
  • Blue fondant
  • Star cutters
  • Fondant rolling pin
  • Red luster dust
  • Blue luster dust
  • Gum paste glue
  • Small paint brushes

CHERRY FILLING

  • 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups (275 grams) pitted fresh or frozen cherries, drained
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

VANILLA CAKE

  • 1 3/4 cups (420g/10.6 ounces) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 (150g/5.3 ounces)cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 4 1/3 cups (498g/17.3 ounces) cake flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (500g/17.7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (282g/10 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces, at room temperature, about 65 degrees

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Princes bakery emulsion

Instructions

STAR GARNISH

  1. Roll out fondant with a fondant roller and cut out different sized star shapes in coordinating colors. Use a mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch to prevent sticking. Dust stars with luster dust and set aside to dry overnight. Once the stars are dry, stack them up in three layers by attaching the stars with a bit of gum paste glue then set aside to dry.

CHERRY FILLING

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch.
  2. Add the cherries, lemon juice and water and cook over medium heat.
  3. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture from burning. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Cool for 15 minutes before transferring to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. 

VANILLA CAKE

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a 4 cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg whites, extract, and sour cream.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment attached, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter one tablespoon at a time until the mixture forms pea-sized pieces, about 1 minute. Reserve ½ cup of the milk mixture and pour the remaining to the flour mixture and mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the reserved ½ cup milk mixture to the batter and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Do not over mix. The batter may look curdled.  Give the batter a final stir by hand with a rubber spatula.
  4. Gently tap cake pans on the counter to settle the batter and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating pans halfway through baking.
  5. Let cakes cool in their pans for 30 minutes on cooling racks. Then invert on cooling racks to cool completely.

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour in the egg whites and sugar and whisk by hand until combined. Fill a medium saucepan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place mixer bowl on top, being sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and attach a candy thermometer.
  2. Whisking occasionally, heat the egg mixture until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. Once the mixture reaches 160 degrees, transfer to a stand mixer and beat the mixture on high speed for 10 minutes or until medium-stiff peaks form. At this point the outside of the mixer bowl should be room temperature. Switch out the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and with the mixer on low speed, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, and then add the vanilla extract. Once combined, turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is smooth about 5 minutes.

ASSEMBLE CAKE

  1. Place a nonslip mat on top of your cake turntable. Place a 10 inch cake board on top. Spread a small amount of buttercream in the center to act as glue for the cake. Center one cake layer on an 8-inch cake board and place the cake board on the 10-inch cake board on the cake turntable. Fit a piping bag with a round piping tip or coupler and filled with about 1 1/2 cups buttercream. Pipe a buttercream dam around the edge of the cake.
  2. Place half of the cherry filling in the center and spread out in an even layer with a small offset cake spatula. Place the second cake layer on top and pipe a buttercream dam on the edge. Spread the remaining cherry filling on top in an even layer until it reaches the buttercream dam. Place the third cake layer on top (bottom side up).

CRUMB COATING

  1. Place a small dollop of frosting on top of the cake and using your offset cake spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides of the cake catching any loose crumbs and sealing them in. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

DECORATING

  1. Place about 1 cup buttercream in a bowl. And in a second bowl, add another 1 cup buttercream.
  2. Color one bowl of buttercream with Americolor Electric Blue and the other bowl of buttercream with Americolor Red Red gel food coloring.
  3. Apply a large dollop of uncolored buttercream on the top of the cake and smooth out. You should have excess frosting hanging off the edges. Place a parchment paper lined acrylic disc and place it on top of the cake, gently pressing down to adhere. Apply buttercream to the sides of the cake. Take a cake comb and gently press it against the bottom cake board and the top acrylic disc and rotate the cake turntable to smooth out the buttercream and create indentations for the colored buttercream to be piped on. Apply more buttercream to the spots that have gaps and rotate the turntable a few more times until you’re happy with the look, cleaning the cake comb with each rotation. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  4. Fit two piping bags with couplers or a plain round piping tip that is roughly the size of the indentations. Fill one bag with red buttercream and the other bag with blue buttercream.
  5. Pipe colored buttercream in alternating colors in the indentations. Using a small offset spatula, gently press the buttercreams into the ridges. Using a smooth edge cake scraper, gently rotate the turntable to smooth out the colored buttercreams. Clean your cake scraper and rotate again to clean up the cake sides and finish up the cake stripes.
  6. Decorate the sides of the cake with fondant stars by using a bit of leftover buttercream to attach the stars. Place remaining buttercreams in one piping bag fitted with Ateco piping tip #828 and pipe 8 swirls around the top edge of the cake. Pour festive sprinkles in the center. Carefully transfer cake to a cake pedestal and serve.

Notes

Fondant stars can be made up to 2 weeks in advance.
Filling can be made up to 1 week in advance.
Cake layers can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Assembled cake be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 892Total Fat: 60gSaturated Fat: 33gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 427mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 2gSugar: 34gProtein: 12g

*Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary.*

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