Flag Cake

This is the first of a few posts celebrating all-American food for the upcoming holiday weekend. Enjoy!

I’ve made this once before, but I was sent to the emergency room before I got to try a piece. I was racing up the stairs from the basement, camera in hand, thinking that this was the coolest thing I had ever made and thus, definitely photo-worthy (come a long way, huh?). Looped around the banister was a strand of glass lights, one of which was broken. I grabbed the banister at just that spot and sliced my finger open. Fortunately, I managed to get my picture. Unfortunately, even though I was only at the ER for a few hours, the cake was gone by the time I got back.

I had to scan this picture in. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I last made a flag cake!

I made this again for Memorial Day this year, and it turned out so well. It would be a perfect dessert for a 4th of July barbecue, especially since we’re in the midst of blueberry season here in Central Texas.

You could certainly choose to use boxed cake mix and frosting if you’re short on time, but homemade tastes so much better! Make sure you use a white cake (not yellow) to preserve the red, white and blue theme.

Cake recipe from Sara Moulton

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 12 Tbsp. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 large egg whites (3/4 c.)
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting: (Keep in mind that buttercream should not be left outside in warm weather. I’d use another kind of frosting if you’re planning on keeping the cake outside.)

  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ~4 c. confectioner’s sugar

For the decoration:

  • 2 lb. strawberries, washed, dried and sliced
  • 1/2 pint blueberries, washed and dried

Directions:

  • Set rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of a 13×9″ pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for the cake and granulated sugar for about 5 minutes with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
  • Stir together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  • Stir together egg whites, milk and vanilla extract and set aside.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then add half the milk mixture. Continue to alternate the two, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scape the bowl and beater often.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a metal spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
  • Cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto the rack, remove the paper and let cool completely.
  • Beat the butter for the frosting in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy (~5 minutes).
  • Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar until the frosting is stiff.
  • When the cake is cooled, using a long slicing knife (or one of these), slice the cake in half to make 2 layers.
  • Frost the top of one of the bottom layer with the buttercream, then arrange 1 lb. of the sliced strawberries on top of the frosting.
  • Put the second layer on top of the strawberries and frost the rest of the cake with the remaining buttercream.
  • In the upper left corner of the cake, arrange the blueberries in a rectangle-ish square to form the stars. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, use the remaining buttercream to pipe on the stars. I usually skip that. People know it’s the flag without the stars.
  • Using the other 1 lb. of strawberries, make horizontal rows across the cake to form the stripes.

Verdict:

This cake is a cross between sheet cake and strawberry shortcake, and in turn, it’s got the best of both worlds. The rich flavor of the buttercream is counterbalanced by the freshness of the berries, ensuring that the cake isn’t too heavy. The cake is moist and spongy, and a good vehicle for the berries and buttercream (sorry cake fans, I’m the kind of gal that always goes for the corner piece — the one with the most frosting). Although you can make this cake a single layer without the strawberries in the middle, it’s much better with it; the juice from the strawberries soaks into the middle of the cake and you get the strawberry taste in every bite.

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