Independence Flag Cake

Independence Flag CakeJust like everything else this year, the 4th of July is going to be weird. There will be no fireworks shows—though if your neighborhood is anything like mine has been lately, you’ve had your fill of the sound of fireworks. There will be no neighborhood parade with Dads pushing their prized, decorated grills while performing dance routines. (Yep. This is a thing where I live.) But, I know one thing that will not change. We will eat flag cake.

Every year my sister makes a flag cake for 4th of July. It’s kind of become a running joke for my family. Don’t get me wrong, the cake is great but not having the cake would be a catastrophe of epic proportions. Maybe. Probably not. I just know there have been more than a few years when we had to scramble to find decent berries to top the cake. I sense that this year it will be just that much more important if only to provide a bit of normalcy.

We always use Ina Garten’s recipe for flag cake. But, as long as you have white frosting and red and blue fruit for the decorations, you can use any cake recipe you want. You can use your favorite boxed cake mix and make your life that much easier.

I did do a quick search online for flag cakes just to switch things up this year. I was amazed by what I found. If you are not a big fan of sweet stuff, rest assured that there are plenty of savory versions including a flag Caprese salad and a deviled egg flag which sort of scares me, frankly. Take a few minutes to do a search if only for the entertainment value.

How ever you decide to celebrate the 4th this year, be it with or without a flag cake, I wish you a safe, healthy and very happy 4th of July!

Independence Flag Cake
Adapted from the Food Network and Ina Garten
Yields about 20 servings

For the cake
2-1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter at room temperature
1-1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the decoration
1 pint blueberries
1-12 pints strawberries sliced into wedges (or whole raspberries)

Make the cake
Heat the oven to 350 ºF and butter and flour an 18 x 13 x 1 1/2-inch sheet pan. Note: if you choose to serve this cake on a platter rather than directly from the baking pan, line the pan with greased parchment paper so it releases easily. You can skip this step if you are serving from the pan.

Set up your electric mixer with the paddle attachment and cream the butter and sugar on high speed, until it is light and fluffy.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs, 2 at a time. Next, add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until the batter is smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. Turn the mixer on low speed and gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cake in the center of the oven until a toothpick comes out clean (about 20 to 30 minutes).

Cool the cake to room temperature.

Make the icing
Fit your electric mixer with the paddle attachment and combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla mixing it just until smooth.

Assemble the cake
At this point, you can frost the cake directly in the pan or turn it out onto a platter before frosting.

Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Draw the outline of the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries.

Place 2 rows of strawberry slices across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of strawberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe little stars on top of the blueberries.

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