Fourth of July

American Flag Cake

June  3, 2014
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

There's no better way to celebrate an American holiday than with a flag cake—a simple white cake with a patriotic surprise inside.

First thing's first, you need five 9-inch cakes: two white, two red, and one blue. You can use the recipe here, or any favorite white cake recipe that you have. After making a large amount of cake, the rest is pie (or at least easy as pie). Just watch the video above to see how it's done.

**Please note that the recipe makes one single cake, so to make the flag cake you'll need to make it 5 times. A standard KitchenAid mixer comfortably handles 1 batch of batter.**

This recipe will have some cake and buttercream left over. With those extras you could make: cake pops/cake truffles, a trifle with freshly whipped cream and sliced berries, or toasted cake croutons to go on top of pudding or to serve alongside coffee. —Erin McDowell

Watch This Recipe
American Flag Cake
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes one 9-inch cake
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • For the frosting:
  • 4 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 8 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. For the cake:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt to combine. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Follow with 1/3 of the buttermilk and mix to combine. Repeat until all of the wet and dry ingredients are added, scrape well to ensure the batter is smooth.
  5. For the white cakes: do nothing! The batter can be baked as is. For the red cakes: add about 25 drops of liquid food coloring (or more if it looks too pale). For the blue cake: add about 20 drops of liquid food coloring (or more if it looks too pale).
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. If you don't have 5 separate cake pans, you can continue to use the cake pans you have over and over again until you have 5 cakes.
  7. To assemble the cake, you'll need the frosting (recipe below). Cut the white and red cakes into even layers, between 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Now you should have 6 layers. Use a 5-inch circle cookie cutter (or trace around a 5-inch plate) to cut one of the white layers and one of the red layers into a smaller circle.
  8. Use the 5-inch cutter to remove the center of the thicker blue cake. This cake will remain in one thick layer.
  9. To build the cake, start with a large red layer and spread a thin coating of buttercream on top. Top with a white layer, and spread buttercream thinly on top. (The recipe is below.) Repeat with another red and another white layer—you should have four layers total.
  10. Top this white layer with the thick blue layer (center removed). Spread a thin amount of frosting on the 5-inch red layer, and top it with the 5-inch white layer. Now push and pat the 5-inch layers inside the hole of the blue layer. Now the cake has been assembled!
  11. Frost the cake with the remaining frosting, using a small offset spatula to make it swirly. All that’s left to do is eat it!
  1. For the frosting:
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cream gradually, mixing until a smooth, creamy texture.

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  • Sasha Anderson
    Sasha Anderson
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  • Andrea Del Conte
    Andrea Del Conte
  • Alice Swenson
    Alice Swenson
  • Adrienne
    Adrienne
Review
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.