American flag cake
- July 2014
- Serves 20
- Hands-on time 1 hour, oven time 50 minutes
A great celebration cake, decorated in red, white and blue, using vanilla buttercream, blueberries and raspberries to look like the American flag.
- 45.3g (27.9g saturated)
- 67.7g (51.5g sugars)
- 280g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
- 500g caster sugar
- 6 large free-range eggs
- 250ml soured cream
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 400g plain flour
- 50g cornflour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Blueberries and raspberries to decorate
For the icing
- 260g unsalted butter, softened
- 750g full-fat cream cheese (see tips; we like Philadelphia)
- 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 500g icing sugar, sifted
- Heat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Lightly grease and line the bottom of a 35cm x 24cm x 5cm deep rectangular cake tin (ours came from Amazon). Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs 2 at a time, beating soured cream and vanilla and mix well. Don’t worry if the mixture splits – it will come back together.
- In another bowl, stir the flour, cornflour, sea salt and bicarbonate of soda together, then gently fold into the cake mixture with a metal spoon until smooth. Pour the batter into the tin, then bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Cover the top with tin foil after 30 minutes if it’s getting too dark. Once cooked, remove from the oven, cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.
- For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a large bowl, then beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Add the icing sugar in thirds, beating until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes to firm up.
- To decorate, level off the top of the sponge if it isn’t flat, using a serrated knife. Turn the sponge over so the neat, flat bottom faces up. Spread a layer of icing all over, using a palette knife, working back and forth to give sharp edges.
- Put more icing into a piping bag fitted with a closed star nozzle (see Food Team’s Tips). Pipe a line of icing lengthways along the centre of the cake, flicking the nozzle lightly up and down to give a ruffled effect. Below this, neatly arrange a line of raspberries. Pipe 2 evenly spaced lines of icing underneath, putting a line of raspberries under each. In the top half, pipe a vertical line of icing to create a rectangle for the ‘stars’. Pipe 2 more horizontal lines of icing and fill with raspberries.
- Once the cake is completely covered in raspberries and icing lines, fill the piped rectangle with neat rows of blueberries. Pipe small stars on top of the blueberries.
For best results, start with all your cake ingredients at room temperature.
Don’t use low-fat cream cheese for the frosting. It may run off the cake. You probably won’t need all the icing, but it’s better to have extra in case you need to re-do anything. If your dimensions aren’t quite right, simply scrape the icing off the cake with a palette knife, then start again.
Making a big sheet cake is traditional on the Fourth of July. Once everyone has had a slice, it’s portioned up for people to take home.
You’ll need a piping bag fitted with a closed star nozzle to give the best ridged icing effect. If you don’t have one, use a plain nozzle.
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