American Flag Cake

Julia Millay Walsh
There are lots of ways to show your American pride, but this Fourth of July, I'm expressing my patriotism in the best way I know how. Courage? Fidelity? Fighting for justice? Pursuing freedom for all? Impacting those around me for the greater good with my creativity and tenacity? For me, the answer is obviously flag cake. Be grateful to the founding fathers for the freedoms we continue to fight for and try to live up to, be gracious to those who share this wonderful land with you, and lean back to enjoy the fireworks bursting in air, with a big slice of star-spangled pride. This flag cake is a fun spin on the classic. I lightened things up by using an airy sponge cake as my base, and I made the most addicting cream cheese frosting ever by folding whipped cream into it. This is the perfect summer dessert with a big scoop of ice cream.
toulouse-white-platter This cake is a unique size, so a large serving platter is a must. This one from Crate & Barrel is literally the perfect size. Plus, its demure design won't compete with the fun pattern of the cake. Toulouse White 16.5"x10" Platter, $90, Crate & Barrel
Ingredients for Sponge Cake MAKES: One 9" x 13" pan or two 10" round cake pans. 1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted then measured 2 1/4 cups sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cup eggs whites (about 9 large eggs) 1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, packed 9 egg yolks 1/3 cup water Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Adjust rack in the lower third of oven. 2. Grease or spray two nonstick 9" x 13" pans and line the bottom with wax paper. Grease the paper. Sift flour, half of the sugar (1 cup and 2 tablespoons), and salt into a bowl; set aside. 3. Whisk egg whites in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer just until frothy. Add cream of tartar; whisk until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cups sugar in a steady  stream, whisking until thicker, stiffer, glossy peaks form - about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Scoop white into a VERY large bowl (trust me, you'll need it) and set aside. 4. In the same bowl you used for the whites, beat the egg yolks with remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow, about two to three minutes. Add water and beat until thickened, about four minutes. It should be very thick and pale. Pour yolk mixture over whites and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle one-third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture; fold to combine. Repeat two more times just until ingredients are incorporated. Gently pour batter into the pans and level tops with a spatula. 5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until top springs back slightly when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Invert pan onto a cooling rack, and cool for about 45 minutes. 6. To remove cake from pan, slip a butter knife down one side of pan and slowly trace perimeter to release the cake. When sides are free, cover cake with a rack and invert. Remove cake pan and the wax paper. Let the cakes cool completely. Ingredients for Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting 3 cups heavy whipping cream 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature and soft 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 3 cups powdered sugar 2 teaspoon vanilla extract Directions 1. Chill a metal or glass bowl in the fridge, then use this bowl to whip your heavy cream to stiff peaks. Careful not to over beat the cream though, as it will curdle if overworked. Set aside. 2. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese (I used an electric mixer with a paddle attachment), salt, sugar, and vanilla, until very smooth. Add the whipped cream a third at a time, folding in to combine. 3. If not using right away, keep in the fridge and thaw for 20 minutes on the counter before using. Ingredients for Decoration MAKES: One 9" x 13" cake 2 half pint blueberries 1 half pint raspberries 1 half pint strawberries 1 half pint currants or plums or other read fruit 1 recipe Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting 1 9 x 13 inch sponge cake Directions 1. Place the cake on a serving platter. 2. Spread the frosting over the cake with a spatula or butter knife, coating it about a 1/2 inch thick. 3. Add the blueberries in a square in the top left corner to represent the stars, and the red fruit in a pretty row to represent the stripes. For more delicious recipes from Claire, head to The Kitchy Kitchen. Photographs: Claire Thomas

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