This was the cake I made for my son’s birthday last year. He celebrates his birthday around the same time as Uncle Sam so it’s pretty easy to come up with a theme for his shindig…not so easy to wrangle guests, since most people are away. Last year we kept things super low-key, just a good old fashioned backyard bash with the family and his best girl. I whipped up mayo-free lobster rolls with a lemon-butter vinaigrette (someday I’ll post that recipe too) and a fruity panzanella packed with ripe peaches and soft mozzarella. The weather was blissfully rain-free and my newly crowned toddler even surprised us all by eating everything I made. Perfection.
While this year he’s petitioned a “Prince Charming” party complete with a magician, a prince and a real-live princess, last year he wasn’t wise enough to make any requests. So I took to the internets to suss out a star-spangled red, white and blue flag cake worthy of a Pinterest fanclub. And I found one.
Thankfully this was far easier than it looks since it relies on a basic white sheet cake (cheers Martha!), cream cheese frosting and a bevy of patriotic berries. The hardest part is arranging the flag. But I channeled Betsy Ross and really turned that mother out. Sort of.
Since this year it’ll be all ball gowns and epaulets up in here, I’ll be turning to trusty old Stew Leonards to whip up a prince-covered confection. There is no chance I’m attempting to mold fondant or sculpt a horse-drawn carriage out of icing.
And btw, I’m pretty sure his love of Cinderella is karmic retribution for the 1 million times I made my mom and dad read me the same story – the exact same copy I now read to Manster. In fact, every night, after bathies, he makes Nana reenact the scene whereupon Anastasia and Drizella shred Poor Cinderelly’s dress. While I’m nursing Baby Ice, I can hear Nana cackling from the other room, “Give me those beads! Now take off that sash! You wicked, wicked girl,” as she whisks the towel away from him. And every night, I cackle right alongside her.
Red, White and Blueberry Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Ingredients for the Cake:
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking sheet – stock
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for baking sheet – $3.59
2 teaspoons baking powder – stock
1 teaspoon salt – stock
2¼ cups sugar – stock
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract – stock
1 cup milk – stock
8 egg whites – stock
Ingredients for the Frosting & Berry Flag:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature – $1.99
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature – stock
1 cup confectioners’ sugar – stock
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract – stock
1 pint blueberries – $3.49
2 pints raspberries (make sure to pat dry very well after washing so color doesn’t bleed onto icing) – $6.00
8 large strawberries, sliced thinly – $3.99
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $19.06
Cost per serving: $1.58
Directions for the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-by-18-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, tapping out any excess flour; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.
4. In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture.
5. Transfer batter to prepared baking sheet and smooth batter evenly with a spatula or back of a spoon. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack, then reinvert and let cool completely before cutting in half (widthwise).
Directions for Frosting and Flag Decorating:
1. Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.
2. Frost one half of the cooled cake. Layer with sliced strawberries then place remaining half of the cake on top and frost. Arrange raspberries and blueberries in a flag motif.