Make this festive summer sparkler cake for a sweet treat on the Fourth of July, or for any celebration this season. For more mix and match recipes, check out Caroline Wright’s Cake Magic!, available now!
Every Cake Magic! cake is built on a simple premise: mix and match a batter, a flavoring syrup, and a frosting in order to make 100+ variations of your favorite cakes. In this recipe, we’ll use a Brown Sugar-Nut Batter, a Cherry Syrup, and a Cream Cheese Frosting to create the perfect Summer Sparkler Cake.
Summer Sparkler Cake
For the Brown Sugar-Nut Cake
- Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pans
- All-purpose flour, for dusting the pans
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¾ tbsp powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup full-fat plain yogurt
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
For the Cherry Syrup
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons cherry preserves
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cherry liqueur or Kirsh (optional but recommended)
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- 4 cups (one 16-ounce box) confectioners’ sugar
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°. Butter the bottom and sides of two 8-inch, round cake pans. Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess. (If making cupcakes, use liners instead of greasing and coating the tins.)
- Place all of the dry cake mix ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together well to combine.
- Stir in the yogurt, butter, molasses, water, vanilla, and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix). Stir in the walnuts just before dividing the batter between the prepared pans.
- Bake until the layers are domed and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted in the center of the cake, 40 to 45 minutes (40 to 50 minutes for a 10-inch Bundt, 25 to 35 minutes for a 13 by 9-inch cake, and 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes).
- While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. Combine the sugar, water, jam, and salt in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then stir in the vanilla and liqueur, if using. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, covered, for at least 20 minutes. Strain the syrup. Use the syrup warm or at room temperature.
- After removing the cake layers from the oven, pierce them (still in the pans) at 1-inch intervals with a skewer or paring knife. Pour or brush the syrup over the layers, dividing it evenly. Set the layers aside, in the pans, on a wire rack to cool completely. (The syrup will soak into the cakes.)
- When the cakes are cool and no longer wet to the touch, 1 to 2 hours, make the frosting: Combine the butter, cream cheese, salt, and 2 cups of the sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the remaining sugar and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Run a knife, or an offset spatula, around the edge of one of the cake layers to loosen it. (Turn the layers out of their pans 1 by 1, as you frost them.) Place the layer on a cake plate with strips of waxed, or parchment, paper underneath; these will catch any drips and keep your cake plate clean. Spread the layer with about a third of the frosting on top.
- Frost the rest. Run a knife, or an offset spatula, around the edge of the remaining cake layer. Invert it onto the frosted layer. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting.
- Garnish with cherries, and, most importantly, SPARKLERS!