The Perfect 4th of July Dessert: A Flag Cake!

Happy (almost) 4th of July! Not only is it time to celebrate our country's birthday, if you live in Los Angeles it's also time to celebrate the end of June gloom and the beginning of perfect summer weather. This weekend, that means a plethora of BBQs, picnics and pool parties. For guests of those BBQs and pool parties, it also means figuring out what to bring! If you're at a loss over what [insert dish here] to make as your BBQ contribution, worry no more! I've got an absolutely fantastic dessert that will put your patriotism – and baking skills – on full display.

The perfect 4th of July party dessert!
It's a flag cake. Yes, a flag cake. All you need to do is make a cake, make some icing and garnish with blueberries and raspberries until it looks like the American flag. Okay, maybe it's not really that simple – it's a bit time-consuming and some basic piping skills are required – but it's SO worth it, especially for this red, white and blue holiday. While I made the cake and the frosting from scratch, you can absolutely use boxed cake mix and tubs of buttercream or cream cheese icing. The recipe I'm following is from the Barefoot Contessa herself: Ina Garten. It can be found in her Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook and it's my #1 go-to Fourth of July dessert recipe. Hopefully it will be yours, too!

For the cake:
  • 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the icing:
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the "flag" decorations:
  • 2 half-pints blueberries
  • 3 half-pints raspberries
To make the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 18 x 13 x 1 1/2-inch sheet pan. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Butter and flour an 18 x 13 x 1 1/2-inch sheet pan

Cream butter and sugar

Add eggs, one at a time
Add vanilla and sour cream and mix to combine
This is what the wet ingredient batter should look like
Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda
With mixer on low, add dry ingredients slowly to wet ingredients. The batter should look like this when all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Spread the batter evenly on the baking sheet

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Make the icing: Combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.

Combine icing ingredients and mix until smooth

Decorate the cake: I keep the cake in the baking sheet and serve it that way. It's much easier for me. If you want to flip the cake out, line the baking sheet with parchment paper and flip it onto a large platter after it has baked and cooled. Then spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

Spread 3/4 of icing onto cake. Outline flag with a toothpick.
Wash and dry blueberries
Line rows of blueberries for the "star" area of the flag.
Fill the entire "star" area with blueberries.
VERY GENTLY, clean and dry the raspberries.
Starting at top of cake, make two rows of raspberries.
Using a large star tip in a piping bag, pipe two rows of icing below raspberries.
Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until flag is complete (you can already see the flag taking shape!).

Here's the detail of the raspberry and icing rows.

Pipe stars onto the blueberry layer.

You're done! You've got a 4th of July flag cake! Chill it in the fridge for a bit before taking it to your party.


  1. My Mom used to make a cake like this every year -- only instead of frosting she used round slices of banana overlapping each other across for the "white" rows, and sliced strawberries overlapping each other for the red rows. So if you don't have piping skills, you can try that. :)

  2. I'm going to try making this for a party on the 4th! Can't wait!!

  3. Hello,

    My name Sybil Greene, and I would like to suggest a resource for your website. The resource www.cupcakerecipes.com is an informational website providing a range of information that may be useful to your readers ~ especially our 4th of July cupcake ideas, as summer’s big holiday will be here before we know it! It would be wonderful if you could review the site to determine if it may be relevant for your users. Thanks so much for your time.

    Please contact me if you have any questions about the site.

    Sybil Greene


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