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A question about a recipe: American Flag Cake

168cfe9e 83d6 4351 bf98 90f20c8b576b  flag cake contedxt

I have a question about the recipe "American Flag Cake" from erinmcdowell. From studying the cake's photos and looking at a real flag, it seems to me that the proportion is off for the top layer, the one that is blue with red/white stripe center. That is, if the whole diameter is 9", 5" worth of it should be red and white stripes and only 4" should be blue. To accomplish that you would have to cut out circles that were 5" in diameter not 4" from the layers. Am I right? Need resolution please before BBQ on July 3rd!

asked by CarlaK about 3 years ago
6 answers 1557 views
84baef1b 1614 4c3d a895 e859c9d40bd1  chris in oslo

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added about 3 years ago

It does look like the numbers in the written recipe don't match the picture, let alone the real flag. If you're looking for accuracy, a bit less than a third of the width is blue, so yes, 5 or even six inches of red, 3 inches of blue.

Then there's the height. A flag is 1.9 wider than it is wide (say 2 times to make it easier). For realism, a 9-inch cake should be two and a quarter inches tall (because the diameter is twice as wide as your slices). Both the recipe and the picture are different.

Bottom line? I'm glad you asked the question, as this picture has been bugging me!! But real bottom line? As long as your layers fit together, it will look and taste great.

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added about 3 years ago

Hi, CarlaK, I'm Canadian but this had me curious! I looked at images of the flag online, and I estimate that the blue section should be about 1 "unit" to 1.5 "units" of the red and white section. For instance, there would be two inches of blue against three inches of red and white. With a 9" diameter cake, that would be 3.6" of blue and 5.4" of red/white.

On the other hand, if I may offer a personal opinion, if you go to to all the trouble of making such a spectacular cake, anyone who criticizes your blue to red/white proportions doesn't deserve any dessert! Approximate the size of each section, and don't worry about fractions of inches. Good luck!

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added about 3 years ago

I just did a little visualization and realized the problem with my math - the blue section needs to be half that in thickness, since a slice of cake only goes to the middle of the cake. So 1.8" of blue (2" for simplicity) would be the thickness of the outer blue ring.

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Erin McDowell

Erin is a baking aficionado, writer, stylist, and Test Kitchen Manager at Food52. She is currently writing a cookbook.

added about 3 years ago

Hi CarlaK, I'm a little confused by your question (but only because this is a nearly confusing cake!) - I have made this cake three times now, and each time I cut out 5 inch circles, like my recipe states. You cut out 5 inches from the center of the blue cake, and discard it - the ring of blue is what makes the blue corner piece. Then you cut 5 inch circles out of one red and one white layer to put inside the blue ring and finish the cake. Hope this answers your question, but make sure to look at the step by step tutorial if you're still confused: https://food52.com/blog...

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added about 3 years ago

The problem is that "cutting out 5 inch circles" is NOT what your recipe states. The recipe says to cut out 4" circles which is what made no sense picture wise and prompted my question to begin with. So I guess I was right to question it.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added about 3 years ago

I see that the rcipe has been changed to now reflect the correct directions. Glad I brought this to your attention.

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