A Little Taste of Independence

July 1, 2009 at 11:03 pm 287 comments

Hey everyone – happy 4th of July!

I know most everyone has a special Independence Day tradition. Most people spend the day with their family and friends, others go to neighborhood potlucks and barbeques, and still others go to the park to watch the fireworks burst beneath the stars. My personal tradition?

When we first moved into this house, I was so happy to discover that the neighborhood was full of kids. Boys, it turned out. We had only been settled in the house for a few months before it was July, and I discovered something else – those boys were ridiculous pyromaniacs. The entire day they shot off the loudest fireworks they possibly could, and not even stopping there. They would drop fireworks into hollowed out tennis balls, empty coke cans, even buckets of water, just to see what would happen. When I first opened my door, there was a half melted army man on our driveway. I don’t even want to imagine what they did to the poor guy.

We’re not little kids, and unfortunately I don’t go out and play with those boys anymore. It seems as we got older it was weirder for a girl to hang around the group, and I haven’t created a fort in their backyards or explored the neighborhood with them in years. I’m too scared to light off any fireworks (Roman Candle fireworks are about as intense as I can handle), and I hardly ever see them now. But every year for the 4th of July, the whole neighborhood comes out as soon as dusk falls to enjoy their show together, and I laugh with them like we’ve stayed friends all along.

While I wish I could claim credit for it, the idea of a flag cake was completely my father’s. It was all a bit of an experiment and when I finally cut the cake open, revealing the familiar red white and blue, I was so surprised to see that it worked. Besides that, I was floored by how beautifully colored all the layers were, and how much it really resembled a flag! It might be one of the coolest cakes I’ve ever made!

I used a white cake flavored with coconut milk. I wrapped the cakes and left them overnight and in the morning, was disappointed because they had dried out. I made a simple syrup with lime and tried to revive the layers, but the cake was still dry and I’m not sharing the recipe. However, the cake came together well and you can use any recipe for a three layer white cake.

I wanted the cake to be completely white on the outside, keeping the richly colored layers hidden. I also didn’t want to mess around with blueberries and strawberries on the top, which I think are generally pretty common around the 4th. I made my favorite cream cheese frosting and flavored it with lime zest. While the cake was nothing special, I do love this cream cheese frosting, and it’s the easiest to make – no room temperature cream cheese needed!

So, want to know how it’s made? :)

Bear with me, it’s a bit hard to explain without pen and paper.

To make the cake, you use three layers of white cake. Using food coloring, one layer is dyed blue, one is dyed red, and the last layer is kept white. The three layers are leveled so they are all the same height. Let’s say each layer is 2 inches tall.

Using a serrated knife or cake leveler, slice the red and white layers horizontally in half. So you have a blue layer (2″), two red layers (each 1″), and two white layers (each 1″). Set one white and one red layer aside, those will be the bottom two stripes of the flag.

You only want a square of blue in each slice, not an entire layer. Stack the blue layer, white layer, and red layer on top of each other. Using a serrated knife, cut a large circle through all three layers. I used a bowl as a guide. Now you have a ring of blue (2″), a ring of white (1″), a ring of red (1″), and three inner circles in each color (the blue is 2″ and the other two are both 1″). Discard the inner circle of blue and the outer rings of red and white.

To assemble the cake, frost the bottom two layers together – set the uncut white layer on a plate and spread with frosting. Top with the uncut red layer. Spread the uncut red layer with frosting, then set the blue ring on top. Use a spatula to spread a very, very thin layer of frosting around the inside edge of the blue ring. This will help keep the blue layer and the two top stripes together.

Place the white inner circle on top of the uncut red layer, inside the ring of blue. Frost, and top with the red inner circle. Frost the entire cake and voila, it’s a flag cake!

Whew! Make sense? It’s much less complicated than it sounds, truly. And the result is just too cool. Like I said, I’m not crazy about this cake recipe but I do like the cream cheese frosting. The best part about it is that you can use cold cream cheese – not rock hard, but straight from the fridge is fine. Here it is, plain, but the flavor combinations are endless… add zest or juice or grated ginger or extract or whatever you’d like!

Update – More help! Watch me make the cake for New Day Northwest, a morning show here in Seattle: Get Patriotic with “17 and Baking” (video)

Watch the staff of KSL 5 Television make it: Red, White, and Blue Flag Cake (video)

And finally, some readers made this cake and blogged about it. These two bloggers did a much lovelier job of explaining the cake, with photos/diagrams and everything, so if you found my description confusing, check these sites out: Delectable Deliciousness’s post and A Stove with a House Around It’s post.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes enough to frost a 4th of July Flag Cake
From The Joy of Cooking

16 oz cream cheese
10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Beat the cream cheese, butter, and extract together until combined. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

Printer Friendly Version – 4th of July Flag Cake Instructions and Cream Cheese Frosting

PS: Speaking of a taste of independence… I got my driver’s license a few days ago! Whoo!

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287 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Happy Fourth of July! « Moses and more  |  July 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    [...] it for a Monday the 4th.  I take absolutely no credit for the concept – it all came from 17 and Baking and it is pure [...]

    Reply
  • [...] Elissa Bernstein’s Blog “17 and Baking”:    http://17andbaking.com/2009/07/01/a-little-taste-of-independence/ [...]

    Reply
  • 3. Kelli Armanini  |  July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Oh my goodness! I made this cake for the Fourth of July, and got so many compliments on it! People were amazed!!!!
    It was so easy, and actually fun to make!
    Thank you for such a great idea!!!!!! (Or, thank your dad!)
    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • 4. oranges  |  July 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    hello world

    Reply
  • 5. onesweetsummer  |  July 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

    wow! i can’t believe i didn’t stumble upon this when making my red, white and blue berry cake for the 4th. may have to try this next year.

    Reply
  • 6. Melissa  |  July 12, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    You are an amazing talented young woman – i LOVE it! I live in Australia and my best friend and her daughter will be back from visiting family in Maine US in a couple of weeks. I am going to make this cake as a welcome home surprise for them – oooh, when they cut it open it will be awesome, i can’t wait. Thank you for the inspiration. LOVE IT !

    Reply
  • 7. Melanie Weaver  |  July 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I shared this on my Facebook after stumbling upon your blog for the first time today from reading other blogs, lol. Awesome job.

    Reply
  • [...] And for dessert, don’t forget the apple pie!!  This was also a great chance for me to make a flag cake that I’ve been wanting to try out!  There is a lot of red, white and blue candy out there [...]

    Reply
  • 9. Nur Era  |  August 17, 2011 at 6:44 am

    It looks delicious!! Well Done! It is a little taste of independence!!!

    Reply
  • 10. Cookware Ratings  |  November 23, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Wow .. you are a great baker. It looks real delicious!

    Reply
  • 11. 4th of July Fails - My Insanity  |  May 15, 2012 at 7:00 am

    [...] is, the good, the bad and the yummy: Pin It I think you’ve had to have seen it by now.  The gorgeous flag cake, originally created by Elissa of 17 and baking.  I’ve seen lots of others attempt her cake, [...]

    Reply
  • 12. Patriotic Cake | Profit with Social Media  |  May 18, 2012 at 6:37 am

    [...] was just so enchanted with Elissa’s Inde­pen­dence Day Cake posted on her 17 and Bak­ing site site that I pushed it right to the top of the [...]

    Reply
  • 13. Sweet Reminders | Popcorn on the Stove  |  May 24, 2012 at 9:36 am

    [...] Glorious Treats.  Update:  According to Ainhoa, the flag cake was first made by Elissa over at 17 and Baking).  I’m not entirely sure that I’m capable of doing this yet (maybe for the Fourth of [...]

    Reply
  • 14. Beverly Martino  |  May 28, 2012 at 11:47 am

    One fabulous cake. As a “retired” cake decorator..it makes want to do just one more. My birthday is the third of July, so I just might bake my own cake!

    Reply
  • 15. A Taste of Freedom | Popcorn on the Stove  |  May 31, 2012 at 9:26 am

    [...] Well, I decided to be an overachiever when it came to dessert for the Memorial Day barbecue.  I guess at this point, it shouldn’t be a big surprise.  Don’t get me wrong – I very much considered just grabbing a big tub of ices (good thing I didn’t because someone else brought those) or making a fruit flag but in the end, I chose to make the cake I found on Pinterest (but was originally from Glorious Treats… and that cake was inspired by one made over at 17 and Baking). [...]

    Reply
  • 16. Jennifer  |  June 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I am so going to do this!! Had to read through the instructions a couple times and actually write out the steps for myself to finally “get it” … but this is a really fantastic idea!! Congrats to you and your creativity!

    Reply
  • 17. Glorious Treats » 4th of July Flag Cake  |  June 13, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    [...] seen this fun cake idea on several wonderful baking blogs.  The earliest post I found was from 17 and Baking, who credits her dad for the creative idea. I opted for an extra simple decorating style on the [...]

    Reply
  • 18. The Flag Cake | the honest bite  |  June 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    [...] looking around ye old Internet for a 4th of July dessert to make for an upcoming party and I found this from Elissa of 17 and Baking.  Elissa is a lovely person who makes wonderful recipes so definitely [...]

    Reply
  • 19. Ariel  |  June 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Clever, clever, clever. Now I have to think of an excuse to make this and MAKE someone look at it on the 4th. Anyone want to have me over for Bar B Que? :) Congrats on getting your license! Remember to check your tires!

    Reply
  • [...] love this Independence Day flag cake. Not sure that I could actually pull it off, but I’d love to [...]

    Reply
  • 21. LaTasha  |  June 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Gosh, that cake looks so darn yummy. LOL. I have a lemon I just made. I’m going to close my eyes and imagine I’m eating this one instead.I will be trying this recipe for sure! Thanks a bunch for sharing

    Reply
  • 22. Glorious Treats » 4th of July Flag Cake | Daily Serps  |  June 25, 2012 at 12:28 am

    [...] baking blogs.  the earliest post I found was from 17 and Baking, who credits her dad for the creative [...]

    Reply
  • 23. sharon  |  June 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    what a messy cake i can make a better one and i am 11

    Reply
  • 24. emarie25  |  June 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I absolutely ADORE the 3rd photo!!
    You did a FANTABULOUS job!!!

    Reply
  • 25. July 4th Pinterest Goodies | Lacquer & Linen  |  June 28, 2012 at 4:14 am

    [...] from Good Housekeeping 5. 4th of July Fruit Pops by Bakers Royale 6. Flag Cake from 17 and Baking 7. Berry Cones from Better Homes and [...]

    Reply
  • [...] I adore this red white and blue cake.  I am wondering how hard it would be to make?!  Looks moist and tasty.  Find directions here. [...]

    Reply
  • 27. “Fourth of July” Layered Cake | Bobbin' Along  |  July 2, 2012 at 9:03 am

    [...] with friends or family. This year, I wanted to do something special to celebrate. I saw this cake on a blog called 17 and Baking. I liked the original idea of the cake, but I wanted to change it up [...]

    Reply
  • 28. Deanna  |  July 2, 2012 at 11:58 am

    This is the greatest 4th of July cake ever!!! Found this with my 6 year old son and he is jumping up and down he’s so pumped to make this! Then he said “I just love you mom”. Thank you for helping create for us a wonderful bonding moment and memory.

    Reply
  • 29. 4th of July Treats | LJA  |  July 2, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    [...] layer-cake is a little more involved. You can find the recipe and directions here. It’s almost too pretty to [...]

    Reply
  • 30. Happy Fourth of July! « jessicaisbaking  |  July 3, 2012 at 8:13 am

    [...] I brought this cake.  I found it on Foodgawker (such a fun app) and I had to make it.  Thanks to 17 and Baking for the awesome instructions.  I used the Red Velvet Cake recipe for the Blue and Red layers and [...]

    Reply
    • 31. Carmon Carlos  |  July 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      Okay so a nit of advice please, I am not typically a baker, But how do you get the layers so brilliantly red while and blue?

    • 32. Carmon Carlos  |  July 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      Oh I mean Red and Blue……

  • [...] patriotism for dessert! Get your guests into the red, white & blue spirit with this delicious cake. [...]

    Reply
  • 34. sharon  |  July 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    i made one check it out on my facebook ended up a beauty and tasted amazing

    Reply
  • [...] on to cake, Elissa’s Bernstein’s Fourth of July Flag cake really impressed me!  When scouring over the recipe and instructions, I said to myself, “What a [...]

    Reply
  • 36. July 4th Pinterest Love « The sTORIbook  |  July 4, 2012 at 8:07 am

    [...] Keep the nom noms coming with a patriotic cake from 17 and Baking! See the full recipe by clicking here. [...]

    Reply
  • 37. Marsha Joy Baker  |  July 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

    WOW! I am SO impressed! I love everything red, white & blue and this one certainly TAKES THE CAKE! I can only imagine the heights you are going to climb in the culinary world!

    Reply
  • 38. Independence Day Flag Cake | Cathartic Cuisine  |  July 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    [...] this is not an original creation of mine.  I stumbled upon this idea over at 17 and Baking, from Elissa.  Frankly, I don’t even know how I wound up on her site, but I saw this cake [...]

    Reply
  • 39. Happy birthday, ‘Merica! « grey ceiling  |  July 5, 2012 at 11:23 am

    [...] Seeing as how we’re on vacation this week, we spent the day at the beach, the pool, baking a flag cake (!), grilling hamburgers, watching fireworks with friends, and [...]

    Reply
  • 40. Freedom in a glass of cake at Aiya!  |  July 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    [...] have seen this posting about 3 years ago when it just came out, and absolutely loved the look of the cake. Without having [...]

    Reply
  • 41. Gen  |  July 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I saw this idea on Pinterest. It is the perfect dessert for the 4th of July so I made it this year. The directions were easy to follow and I was pleased with the results. The best part was the reaction from our dinner guests~they loved it also! My daughter suggested putting white star sprinkles in the blue batter so I’ll have to try that next time. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply
  • 42. Star-Spangled Celebration | High Tea with Dragons  |  July 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    [...] something ‘super-American’ for the occasion. After a bit of hunt on Pinterest I came across this brilliant idea – a cake that looks like a stylised American flag when you cut into it! Totally [...]

    Reply
  • 43. I Had Some Very Bad Beer « That's A Girl's Car  |  July 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

    [...] Everyone was enthusiastic about this idea — even more so once David proposed we get some Doritos Tacos Locos tacos, as none of us had tried them. And since we’d be holding the party shortly after the Fourth of July, I decided to make the famous America Cake seen on Regretsy and 17 and Baking. [...]

    Reply
  • 44. Happy 4th of July! | rooftophot.com  |  July 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    [...] recipe can be found here.    I used her recipe for cream cheese frosting, but found the ‘Perfect Party [...]

    Reply
  • 45. Margaret  |  July 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I want to thank you too for sharing this great idea and thank your dad for coming up with it. I made this cake this past 4th of July and everyone loved it!!

    Reply
  • [...] recall how I first came across this cake. The original creator, Elissa, blogs at a site called 17 and Baking. Although Elissa created the cake design, I opted to use a recipe from a site called Secret Life [...]

    Reply
  • 47. Live Shop Give » Captain America Cake  |  September 20, 2012 at 10:07 am

    [...] first saw this American inspired cake here.  This girl is a fabulous, inventive baker and she made it for the 4th of July.  I am sure when [...]

    Reply
  • 48. 4th of July Flag Cake | Foodie McBooty  |  April 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    [...] Anywho, here is an instructional video on the 17 year old who created this cake.  For full instructions, visit 17andbaking.com. [...]

    Reply
  • […] Elissa Bernstein’s Blog “17 and Baking”:    http://17andbaking.com/2009/07/01/a-little-taste-of-independence/ […]

    Reply
  • […] 17 and Baking // Hidden Flag Cake 10. the winthrop chronicles // American Flag Pie 11. The Not So Super Mama // Fourth of July […]

    Reply
  • […] Independence Day Cake (photo and recipe by 17 and baking via Pinterest) […]

    Reply
  • 52. 35 Fun 4th of July Recipes | Six Sisters' Stuff  |  July 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    […] Patriotic Flag Cake […]

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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