July 4th Flag Cake

July 4th Flag Cake
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July 4th Flag Cake

Red, white, and blue foods are all the rage on the Fourth of July, but each year, one recipe takes the prize for most patriotic of the pack: the July 4th Flag Cake.

For the cake:
• 1 cup boiling water
• 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for dusting pan
• 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional butter for greasing pan
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup sugar
• 4 large eggs

For the frosting:
• 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
• 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the decorations:
• 1 1/2 pints raspberries (about 3 cups total)
• 1/2 pint blueberries (about 1 cup total)

Image Credit: Kelly Senyei

Make the cake:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13- by 9-inch metal baking pan and line the bottom with wax or parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pan with flour, knocking out any excess.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the boiling water, cocoa powder, and instant coffee granules until smooth. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.
  4. In a second medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium until fully incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and cocoa powder mixtures in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. (The batter may look curdled.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top, and bake the cake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, remove the wax or parchment paper, and let it cool completely. The unfrosted cake can be cooled, wrapped securely in plastic wrap, and stored at room temperature up to 24 hours, before assembling and serving.

Make the frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until creamy and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, add the sifted confectioners' sugar in three batches, mixing until fully incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is smooth. Chill the frosting in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before assembling the cake.

Yield: Makes 1 (13- by 9-inch) cake
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Image Credit: Kelly Senyei

Gather the Ingredients

Begin by gathering the ingredients and supplies for our July 4th Flag Cake, including the baked and cooled chocolate cake, chilled cream cheese frosting, raspberries, blueberries, a small spatula, a toothpick or small knife, a pastry bag, and a large star-shaped pastry tip (such as a Wilton #2110). The star-shaped pastry tip isn't essential, but it helps create a cleaner line when piping the white stripes of frosting and also adds a decorative element to the cake. You could also use a plain pastry tip for a similar effect.

Image Credit: Kelly Senyei

Frost the Cake

Using 2 1/2 cups of chilled cream cheese frosting, frost the top and sides of the cake. Use a toothpick or small knife to outline a 4 1/2-inch-long by 3 1/2-inch-wide rectangle in the top left corner of the cake, which is where you'll place the blueberry "stars."

Image Credit: Kelly Senyei

Pipe the Stripes

Transfer the remaining cream cheese frosting to the pastry bag fitted with the star-shaped tip. Starting on the horizontal side of the cake that is closest to you, pipe a line of frosting along the top edge of the cake then place two rows of raspberries directly above the line of frosting. Pipe a second line of frosting and arrange two more rows of raspberries. Repeat this process two more times, making sure to leave the area reserved for blueberries empty. Estimate your spacing so that you begin with a line of frosting at the bottom of the cake and end with two rows of raspberries at the top of the cake.

Image Credit: Kelly Senyei

Add the stars

Place the blueberries in straight rows within the top left rectangle of the cake. Leftover blueberries or raspberries can be scattered along the base of the cake for added color.

Image Credit: Kelly Senyei

Display and Serve

Slice and serve the cake immediately or store it, covered securely in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Using a cutting board that is slightly larger than the 13- by 9-inch cake makes it easy to slice and serve this extra-special dessert at your July 4th bash.

Image Credit: Kelly Senyei


Red, white, and blue foods are all the rage on the Fourth of July, but each year, one recipe takes the prize for most patriotic of the pack: the July 4th Flag Cake.

This dessert has been making waves at Independence Day celebrations for decades, and thanks to its generous size, it provides ample servings for summertime crowds. But we've done away with the classic vanilla sheet cake and buttercream frosting and dreamed up a tasty trio of moist chocolate cake, tangy cream cheese frosting and the season's freshest berries.

Check out the slideshow above for a July 4th Flag Cake recipe and step-by-step photos displaying the decoration of the cake.

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