Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All-American Flag Cake

In a city where the Fourth of July is celebrated from June 24th through July 4th, you might imagine that we take the holiday pretty seriously. Let's just say that there are at least three nights of fireworks, food and all-you-can eat ice cream events, parades, festivals, and free concerts (hello Aaron Neville, Philly Pops, Sara Bareilles, The Roots, BOYZ II MEN — swoon! I'm 13 again! — Michael McDonald, and Earth, Wind, and Fire!). It's a lot to live up to!

This year I wanted to find a festive dessert but didn't want to go the usual route of raspberry and blueberry rows on top of a cake or tart. Instead I came across a fun idea in my Googling and decided to run with it.

White cake on the outside, maybe jazzed up with a little red, white, and blue sprinkle action.

And then on the inside? That's the part that you don't tell people about. Just let them find it when they cut a slice...

Martha Stewart would totally stick a few sparklers in this puppy. 

It may seem complicated, but trust me that it's really not so bad! You can use your favorite white cake recipe or box mix and your favorite white icing. Here's how I did it:
  • Bake up some cake. If you're using box mix, put together one of the boxes and divide the batter into two equal parts. Dye one red and leave the other white. Bake these up according to the directions of the recipe you're using (you'll know it's done when a toothpick comes out clean). Then mix up box mix numero dos and divide in half again. Dye one half blue, and then divide the other half into two separate bowls — one should be dyed red and leave the other one white. Bake these according to instructions of your recipe, but note that the red and white layers are half-layers and may not need as much time to bake. Keep an eye on those and pull 'em earlier than the blue layer. Let all layers cool completely.
  • Cut up your cake. Here's where a cake leveler really comes in handy (and one costs just a few bucks at a baking supply store). Take off the very top of each cake so they're all flat/level on top to start. This is important so the layers stack cleanly and don't have sloping edges. Then cut the large red and white layers exactly in half with either a cake leveler or serrated knife to make two even layers of each color.

    Now work on your blue layer. Cut off the very top of the layer so it's flat and level, just like you did with the red and white layers. Then find yourself something round (like a small bowl) and center it in the middle of the blue layer. Cut around the bowl and remove the center circle so you have a blue ring that is about 1.5" to 2" in width. This will serve as the star part of your flag cake.

    Finally, stack one red and one white layer and take the same bowl that you cut around for the blue layer. Cut around the bowl through the red and white layers, and remove the outer rings. Now you should have a small round of red and white layers.

    In total, you should have 2 large red layers, 2 large white layers, 1 small red layer, 1 small white layer, and a large blue ring with a big hole in the middle. Are you with me still?
  • Put it all together. Grab the plate or cake stand that you ultimately want to display your cake on. Put a small dollop of icing down on the plate and lay down your first large red layer. Put an even layer of icing over the top and then stack a large white layer on top. Repeat this process with another large layer of red and white cake. You should now have 4 layers, all with icing in between.

    Next put down your blue ring, and ice the entire top of the ring as well as the sides. Be generous on the sides so you don't have gaps. Carefully place your small red layer down inside the blue ring and ice the top. Then comes your small white layer. 

    Now ice the outside of the cake as if it were any other cake, being careful not to smear red and blue crumbs into the icing. I could have used a little more icing on the top of my cake, but I ran out. So mental note for you: When you're buying or making your icing, but sure you have a lot more than you need. It took a lot to get in between all of those layers! 

Was that too complicated? Are we still friends? I hope so. Normally I would have taken pictures of some of those steps since they're a little more detailed than your average recipe. However I was deliriously putting it together around 12am and didn't have very good lighting (or much time).

This may not be an everyday kind of cake, but you could definitely make it for Memorial Day, Flag Day, or Fourth of July. Or for any military folks or uber-patriotic friends you may have — you know the type!

Click here for printable instructions!


    1. AHA!! That's how you did it! It tasted fabulous and I thought there was a perfect amount of icing.

    2. We used it for Memorial day and the kids loved it. Ended up using 2 cans of frosting to glue it together, but it was really neat. Thanks for sharing.

      1. That's great! So glad you enjoyed's actually a lot easier than it seems like it would be! Happy Summer! :)

    3. So tricky! A for effort fo rizzle!


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