The fireworks won’t be the only thing exploding with bright colors at your Fourth of July party this year.
To help you celebrate with a decadent and festive dessert, Amirah Kassem, founder of the ultra popular New York City bakery Flour Shop, shared a patriotic twist on her famous “explosion” cakes exclusively with PEOPLE. Instead of her usual rainbow colored layers, Kassem stacks red, white and blue cakes and stuffs the center with sprinkles for a surprise-inside treat that’s sure to impress your guests.
The best part about her creation is that you need only minimal baking skills to get it done because the recipes calls for both store-bought cake mix and ready-to-spread frosting. The author of The Power of Sprinkles cookbook favors her Williams Sonoma x Flour Shop cake mix and frosting mix — which are part of larger collaboration with the home store — but your favorite brand will work just as well.
The assembly is what takes some finessing, but even that is really a cake walk. The first step after your layers are baked and cooled is to remove the center from five layers with a cookie cutter. Save the extra cake to make cake balls (or to snack on while decorating!).
Then you’ll need to spread a generous amount of frosting between each layer, being careful not to frost too close to the center circle. Make sure to keep alternating the layers, red, white and blue.
Once you have five layers stacked, hold off on spreading the frosting until after you fill the center with sprinkles. Use a bowl with a spout or a plastic soup container to slowly pour the sprinkles. If you pour too fast the sprinkles will fly everywhere.
Use the last cake layer (which shouldn’t have a hole in it) to enclose your cake, then spread the last of the frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Don’t stress about smoothing the frosting on the outside perfectly because the sprinkles will cover any imperfections.
The final step? Cut out a piece and watch the reaction on your guests’ faces. Extra points if you can time the cake explosion with the exact moment a firework goes off.
Amirah Kassem’s Surprise-Inside Sprinkle Layer Cake
Unsalted butter, for pans
All-purpose flour, for pans
1 (15.25-oz.) pkg. vanilla cake mix
¼ tsp. royal blue soft gel paste food coloring
¼ tsp. red soft gel paste food coloring
2 (16-oz.) containers vanilla ready-to-spread frosting
½ cup silver star-shaped sprinkles
1½ cups red, white and blue sprinkles, divided
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 3 (6-inch) round cake pans. Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Divide batter evenly among 3 bowls. Stir blue food coloring into 1 bowl of batter. Stir red food coloring into another bowl. Leave remaining bowl white. Pour each bowl of batter into a prepared pan. Bake layers until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove layers from pans, and cool on a wire rack.
2. Trim off domed tops of layers using a serrated knife. Split each layer in half horizontally, making 6 even layers. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut the center out of every layer except 1 blue layer (see sidebar, photo 1). This will be the top layer. Reserve 1 cup for frosting.
3. Spread a small ring of frosting in center of a cake plate, leaving a 2½- to 3-inch hole in center. Place 1 red layer on plate, aligning opening in cake with opening in frosting ring. Spread top of cake layer with about ¼ cup of frosting. Repeat with remaining layers and frosting, alternating red, white and blue, through the fourth layer (see photo 2). Add fifth layer, and before frosting, fill opening in center with star-shaped sprinkles and ½ cup of the red, white and blue sprinkles (see photo 3). Frost the fifth layer, and top with the final blue cake layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Spread reserved 1 cup frosting over top and sides of cake.
4. Place cake on a rimmed baking sheet. Press remaining 1 cup red, white and blue sprinkles around sides of cake, starting at base and working toward top (see photo 4).
5. Cut a piece, watch the sprinkle explosion pour out, and serve.
Makes: 1 (6-in.) cake
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes