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Ina Garten's American Flag Cake? Or something else?

I've been asked to make an American flag cake for my friend's ex-pat July 4th BBQ this Sunday. I love baking and I have a huge, great collection of dessert recipes, but not that many large sheet cake type recipes...

Has anyone tried Ina Garten's American Flag Cake? Or should I try something else? I basically know how I will decorate (white icing, strawberries and blueberries- how creative!) but I just would like to find the best white cake recipe. Maybe it could even be almond flavored...?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions...

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  1. I am watching Ina right now, how strange is that? She's making her "pot roast for a willing friend's dinner meal" today. I often think some of these shows are pre set up.
    Anyway, no, I've not tried it but have seen it and other versions too.
    Here's a link I just found on a wide array of ideas for you.
    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sour...
    Another one is here but they all start with a mix.
    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sour...
    I'd get two boxed mixes [cause you want a large sheet cake right?] add my own touches such as the almond extract or even coconut, I love that idea. Maybe high quality “classic white” wouldn't be bad if you used your own ideas to spiff it up. I enjoy a rich creamy dense cake to ward off the sweet toppings, like one with inclusions of cream cheese or sour cream or Greek yogurt and/or buttermilk, that way you could just skip a recipe from scratch. Michaels or a craft store would have a sheet pan or borrow one. Plus there, you could even get some jimmies in the right color to do a dozen cute little cupcakes for the little ones, using jimmies instead of the fruit, oooh red white and blue candy jimmies..... up to you..........enjoy..........
    I make the best cake I've ever had using a cake mix, that I can't even buy in my own state.
    Believe it or not, true. But with my inclusions of things that seem way over the top, it's the best cake I've ever had, husbands favorite too.

    8 Replies
    1. re: iL Divo

      Thanks for the links and suggestions! Ina's cake is not that hard, it's actually pretty quick and I like to avoid the cake mixes.
      I will probably add some almond extract like you mentioned to jazz it up a bit.
      I like your idea of setting up a color-coded American flag with cupcakes! But for some reason that seems like more work, and I'd have to go out and get a mini cupcake tin...

      1. re: iL Divo

        I used Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix because it was recommended on CH. Though I rarely use mixes, not having to buy food coloring made sense, and using melted butter rather than oil made a good cake. I used cream cheese frosting, raspberries, and black raspberries instead of strawberries and blueberries. Bing cherries are also a possibility for the stripes - halve, pit and blot, place cut-side up being careful not to let juice bleed into the frosting.

        1. re: greygarious

          I like your idea. Question for you, how do you prevent anything red, fruit wise, from bleeding onto the cake? I think that'd be so hard.

          For eviemichael, I have a little problem with collection all things kitchen so, and I'm hiding under the table here, have a few of those little mini muffin tins and many other kinds too.....still hiding.

          1. re: iL Divo

            Im jealous of your large kitchen collection!

            1. re: eviemichael

              oh no need to be envious, it's a desire to get back into my grandparents kitchen I think. back into a time where life was easier, times weren't as hard, the disgust of the day, not so obvious, that's all. I love bring back yesteryear and also love things that catch my fancy kitchen wise and many things do. hard to not grad and pay for when it's in my reach. anything unusual [or not] joins me and if it's not necessary, it goes to charity shops or neighbors.

              1. re: iL Divo

                I love cooking with my grandmother's hand-me-down tools...:)

            2. re: iL Divo

              The best thing is to blot the fruit and decorate as close as possible to serving, which minimizes bleeding. I don't know of a way to prevent it entirely. You could try a hard ball syrup glaze on the berries but that will melt where it touches the frosting and doesn't seem worth the effort. Leftovers will inevitably look tie-dyed.

              I like the red velvet because it looks dramatic, people don't expect it in a flag cake, and many/most people like the mild chocolate flavor of red velvet better than white or yellow cake.

              1. re: greygarious

                I love the flavor of red velvet because it is just that soft taste of chocolate.
                So I was wondering about something else, the bleeding. What about barely dipping the strawberries and or blueberries in the thinnest layer of parafin wax first, I mean the thinnest layer.... that goes onto certain chocolates and we eat those right? why not prevent bleeding that way and be able to eat too. May work, just a thought.

        2. I just happened to see these
          http://bakingbites.com/2009/07/red-wh...
          this morning. Pretty garnish for any type of cake!

          2 Replies
          1. re: blue room

            oh those are wicked cute.
            I love those.
            I make my own colored sugar that I use usually for Christmas cookies. So I have all colors.
            this time of year, our markets practically give strawberry's away.

            1. re: blue room

              Ooooooh, i love those! thanks for the link

            2. I have not tried that recipe, however I have a recipe that I think is better. It's grilled pound cake with a cannoli cream and berries on top. The white cannoli cream, raspberries and blueberries on top look beautiful. Here's the link if you're interested in something different :)

              http://www.examiner.com/x-4180-Norfol...

              4 Replies
              1. re: krisrishere

                That recipe looks gorgeous and is definitely way more up my alley...it's just that my friend the host I think would appreciate something more gaudy and "obviously" festive...:)

                1. re: krisrishere

                  it looks good, I'd love it, but for the pazzzzaz factor, the sheet cake to me anyway, has "wow"

                  again about the bleeding tho................
                  What about barely dipping the strawberries and or blueberries in the thinnest layer of parafin wax first, I mean the thinnest layer....

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    I have never had a problem with the "flag" fruit bleeding when I decorated just a few hours before serving and refrigerated the cake.

                    The only bleeding issue I've had is when I took the cake to a picnic and it was unrefrigerated for a couple of hours. But then it just had this delicious strawberry sauce!

                2. Last year, I made a tres leches cake in a 9x13 pan and topped w/ rum whipped cream and strawberries/blueberries. It was great but I love the creamy texture of tres leches. Here's the recipe for the cake. I didn't use the dulce de leche.

                  http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-15...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowser

                    i didn't even think of that...i LOVE tres leches cake. Great idea, thanks!

                  2. I make Ina's Flag Cake every 4th. This year I suggested I branch out and was told I must make the cake.

                    It is totally simple, can be made the day before and decorated day of. I serve it right in the sheet pan. Really moist. Serves a crowd. Good cold or at room temp. My only caveat is that the recipe makes much more frosting than you need. I usually make the whole recipe anyway and freeze the leftover, then use leftover frosting on another cake or cupcakes.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Junie D

                      I read on some of the recipe reviews (on FN site) that the cake comes out too dense and needs an addition of beaten egg whites to the batter. This hasn't been your experience I assume? Those bad reviews scared me off...

                      1. re: eviemichael

                        the cake is dense. but not too dense. ina's flag cake is amazing. the icing, the cake - everything. i LOVE it.

                        1. re: AMFM

                          I'm happy to know that things she makes are also good. I watch her because she's adorable and fun to watch, plus I love her love of all things fattening. But I never thought of making any of her things that I can remember. That cake is a testament to her talent, thanks for that remark.

                          1. re: iL Divo

                            i LOVE all her recipes. i wouldn't go to a restaurant for them but they are amazing to make at home. not too hard. ALWAYS turn out well and to rave reviews. seriously i'm a fan.
                            check out her lemon pound cake. oh my goodness.

                    2. Sorry, one more question...I just made the tres leches cake, it smells and looks great!
                      Should I wait to do the fresh whipped cream and fruit topping until an hour before it is served at my friend's house?
                      Or can I do the whipped cream topping hours before and just do the fruit last minute?
                      Thanks

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: eviemichael

                        I would wait to add the whipped cream in case the whipped cream weeps, to be on the safe side. Easier to transport, too.

                        1. re: chowser

                          That was my first instinct too...thanks a lot for the tres leches reminder by the way- it's one of my favorite desserts and it hadn't even crossed my mind!

                        2. I saw this photo on the food network's site and actually thought it was cupcakes (instead of fruit tartlets) and thought it was adorable. Sadly, it's not getting very good reviews (though, most of the reviews seem to be people asking questions). But, I still think it would be adorable to do with cupcakes if you had a cupcake recipe you liked.

                          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/fo...

                          ~TDQ

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            very cute. I will probably do cupcakes or tarts next year for something different.

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Love this idea either with tartletts or cupcakes...I swear next year....

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I read only the first few comments, which were from people who did not even know what whipped cream is or how to make it, so I'd take the reviews with a salt lick. It's really just the concept that's important - mini cupcakes would be fine, Anything white - mascarpone, whipped cream, frosting, even Cool Whip. Putting the berries (or red icing)on just half the tartlet/cupcake is the innovation here.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  I think since this year is over, we ought to do this idea for next year and see who comes up with the best or easiest idea, that still works.
                                  oh I now have so many ideas, love this thread, hey eviemichael, what'd you end up making?

                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    I made tres leches cake! But the decoration will be based on Ina's flag cake (with red cherries instead of strawberries). I snuck a bite from the corner and it tastes yummy :)

                                    1. re: eviemichael

                                      I just looked up tres leches cake. I didn't know what it was.
                                      Of course there are tons of recipes out there, but this one got my attention.
                                      Looks good enough to attempt.
                                      http://cookingresources.suite101.com/...

                              2. I just made this yesterday. It's Ina Garten's strawberry tart which I have adapted slightly. Isn't it pretty and patriotic? :) Happy 4th everyone.

                                 
                                4 Replies
                                1. re: krisrishere

                                  it's gorgeous, I want a bite........................... :)

                                    1. re: krisrishere

                                      So pretty, krisishere. I ran across this one, which carries through the star, if not the stripes (the recipe looks good, too): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        Oh that's super pretty. And krisishere's is gorgeous, too. (And, I'll bet, delicious!)

                                        ~TDQ

                                    2. I was thinking the same thing, I ended up making this tres leches cake: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/20... decorated with marachino cherries and blueberries to look like a flag. We haven't eaten it yet, but I can't wait!

                                      1. Update: Everyone loved the cake! The decoration was easy and pretty- I used blue sparkly sugar and piped white stars over it. I used cherries for the stripes.
                                        We had a great ex-pat celebration. Thanks for all your tips! :)

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: eviemichael

                                          oh I'm so happy for you. glad it turned out. where are you evie, not specifically but in general. I guess you're Italian, as i'm watching Michael Chiarello right now :)
                                          oh brilliant to pipe white over the blue sparkly sugar, where did you get that sparkle sugar

                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                            :) I am in Greece actually. A bunch of my friends are fellow Greek-Americans or Greek-Canadians, and we all keep up Thanksgiving, July 4, etc...

                                            I got the blue sugar from ebay of all places! I was ordering edible pearls and got some colored sugar for decorating. Even though the dye is probably very unhealthy....oops.

                                            1. re: eviemichael

                                              all those colored dyes are awful for alll of us. but what's one gonna do. a friend of mine has a son that is allergic to food dyes, by the way who knew they are banned in many country's]? love the ebay thing, thanks for the idea

                                              and for what it's worth I adore Yanni :+)

                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                Yeah, I felt guilty about the dyed sugar, but I could not find any fresh blueberries!

                                                1. re: eviemichael

                                                  don't feel guilty. all of us use those colored food products. I have so many little bottles of food coloring in all colors because at certain times of the year, they put out new colors. now I know you can mix and match to make your own colors but love certain ones I can't make. the neons bottles the halloween bottles the christmas bottles the spring colored bottles how can I resist? I didn't and I don't. you should see my collection of colored powdered sugars

                                          2. re: eviemichael

                                            Glad it worked out! Tres leches cake is always a big hit, something usually that many haven't had but end up loving. Sounds like creative decorating, too.

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              Thanks! Yes, it was something new to a lot of people and they went back for seconds. :)

                                          3. It's so hot here in the Boston area, I decided to adapt Paula Deen's Blueberry-Lime Tiramisu.

                                            You can always decorate the top anyway you wanted. To paraphase it, get 3 packages of soft lady fingers. Two 8 oz. containers of mascarpone, 6 oz. of limeade concentrate, 1 can of blueberry pie filling, two pints of fresh blueberries.

                                            Let mascarpone cheese come to room temperature. Add a couple of tablespoons of limeade to mascarpone and whip on medium for about 2 minutes (just to make it light and fluffy).
                                            In a seperate bowl whip the cream to very soft peaks, then add the mascarpone to the whipped cream, mix til incorporated.
                                            Put fresh blueberries in large bowl and empty canned blueberries on top, mix gently.
                                            In a 9 x 13 pyrex dish, split and layer the lady fingers all over the bottom of the pyrex dish. Take a brush and brush 3 oz. of limeade (you can use limoncello also), all over the lady fingers. Add 1/2 half of the whipped cream/mascarpone cheese and spread over lady fingers.
                                            With a slotted spoon, add half the blueberry mixture over the top, do not spread it.
                                            Repeat the layer. Make it the day before you are going to serve it, cover and let it sit in the fridge.

                                            You could decorate with strawberries or raspberries plain as there is enough juice from the blueberry mixture.

                                            Here's a picture of a slice I cut. Everyone raved, it was very light and delish.