Sure, we love a good patriotic celebration, but to us, the Fourth of July is more than just stars and stripes — it’s also a time to hang with family and friends. For the hostess who wants to extend the party all summer long, we turned to stylist and curator Ricki Uster. She’s put together the perfect ingredients to create a celebration that lingers long after the fireworks are over. Scroll on for three delectable recipes that need to meet your picnic tabletop this summer.
Vanilla Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Go naked with this summer’s hottest dessert trend and whip up this berry sweet cake. Make the party a potluck and focus your talents on creating this firecracker berry cake!
– 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon baking powder
– 1 1/2 cups white sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 3 large eggs
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Generously butter the sides and bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans.
3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
4. In another mixing bowl, beat (with a mixer or by hand) remaining stick of butter with sugar until fluffy and light.
5. Add eggs and continue to beat mixture well, scraping down the bowl as you go.
6. Gradually add flour mixture, then add milk and vanilla and beat until batter is just combined.
7. Divide batter evenly between pans and place in center of oven.
8. Bake until cake is golden and the tip of your knife comes away cleanly when inserted into the center of the cake, about 33-35 minutes.
9. Let cake layers cool for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto plates to cool completely before frosting.
Makes two 8-inch layers. To make the four layers as shown, simply double the recipe. Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.
– 8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
– 1 tablespoon lemon zest
– 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
– 2 cups powdered sugar
1. Beat cream cheese using a mixer or by hand, add lemon zest and juice and beat until combined.
2. Slowly add sugar and continue to beat until fluffy and creamy.
3. Place one completely cooled layer of cake right side up on a cake plate, scoop half the frosting on top, spread with an offset spatula or the flat side of a butter knife.
4. Carefully place the other layer—right side down so that the very top of your cake will be perfectly flat—on top of this.
5. Holding the knife perpendicular to the sides of the cake, apply a thin layer of frosting, scraping as you go, so that the sides are barely covered.
6. Top off with a DIY cake topper!
A combination of ginger and mint dolls up your standard lemonade and makes a great alternative to water for your precious and valuable DDs!
– 3 cups sugar
– 8 cups water, divided
– 1 cup of approx. 1/4-inch slices of ginger. Save yourself the trouble of peeling it first — there’s really no need!
– 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
– Optional: ice cubes with fresh mint leaf frozen inside, for garnish
1. Heat 3 cups water and 3 cups sugar to a boil in medium saucepan, reduce heat to medium and simmer until sugar dissolves.
2. Pour off one cup sugar syrup and let cool.
3. Add ginger slices to saucepan, simmer 10 minutes then set aside to cool. Leave ginger slices in saucepan — this also gives the ginger extra time to “steep” and flavor the syrup as it cools, until it achieves spicy perfection!
4. Strain out ginger and store syrup in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Makes about 2 quarts.
To Serve: In a large pitcher, combine lemon juice with remaining five cups of water, add one cup of the completely cooled (unflavored) sugar syrup and stir to combine. Serve by pouring over glasses of ice, then adding ginger syrup to taste.
Raspberry Basil Sparkler
Bubbly is the perfect beverage for any celebration, and adding basil is a totally unexpected win.
– 24 oz raspberries
– 4 cups water
– 2 cups sugar
– 1 cup whole basil leaves, very loosely packed
– Prosecco, or dry sparkling wine of choice
– Optional: Fresh raspberries and basil sprigs for garnish
1. Cover raspberries with water in saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Strain out raspberries, add sugar, simmer 5 more minutes.
3. Roll basil lightly between your palms to bruise leaves and bring out oils, then drop into syrup.
4. Let cool completely, strain out basil and store syrup in an airtight container for up to three weeks.
To Serve: Splash a small amount of raspberry basil syrup into a champagne or tall cocktail glass, then top with Prosecco or the sparkling wine of your choice. To make things extra festive, bring on the patriotic vibes through your tablescape. From dyed linens to dip-dyed pompoms, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate!
Photographer: Heather Kinkel, @heatherlil
Stylist: Ricki Uster, @laricki
Tastemaker: Laurel Morley, @sweetlaurelblog
Model: Sam Thompson, @samstandard
Clothing Frances Vintage
Jewelry: Adam Rabbit
Woven wall hanging: Wildwood + Firth
What are you planning on serving at your 4th of July bash? Let us know in the comments below!