Flag Cake

Tested & Perfected Recipes

A soft yellow cake topped with luscious cream cheese frosting and fresh berries, this flag cake makes an impressive and patriotic dessert for a crowd.

A soft yellow cake topped with luscious cream cheese frosting and fresh berries, this festive flag cake is the ultimate July 4th dessert. I know that decorating cakes can be intimidating, especially for non-bakers, but I promise this one is quick and easy.

Before we get to the step-by-step, I have to give credit where it’s due. The cake portion of this recipe comes from my all-time favorite cake cookbook, Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri. Decorating inspiration comes from Gaby Dalkin of the fun cooking blog What’s Gaby Cooking, whose genius method for creating the stars and stripes I copied. Instead of using a frosting-filled pastry bag and star tip (which very few people own) to make the white portions of the flag design, she coats half of the berries in powdered sugar. This makes decorating the cake doable for everyone — even kids!

What You’ll Need To Make A Flag Cake

ingredients for flag cake

The ingredients for this flag cake are pretty straightforward. My only advice is to get the prettiest, firmest berries you can find. It will make decorating the cake much easier.

How To Make A Flag Cake

Step 1: Bake the Cake

whisked dry ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

creamed butter and sugar

Beat in the vanilla.

adding vanilla

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

adding eggs one at a time

Don’t worry if the batter looks a little curdled at this point.

curdled batter

Reduce the speed to low, then beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. adding the flour mixture to the batter

adding the buttermilk to the batter

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add another third of the flour, followed by the remaining buttermilk. Beat in the remaining flour, then scrape down the bowl and beat again until the batter is evenly combined. Do not overmix.

finished flag cake batter in mixing bowl

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan.

flag cake batter in pan ready to bake

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is set and lightly golden around the edges, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

baked cake

Step 2: Make the Frosting

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl if using a hand mixer), combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and light, about 2 minutes. beating butter and cream cheese

Gradually add 4 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, mixing on low speed to combine.

adding the sugar

Once the confectioners’ sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the frosting (you’ll need it for the blueberry “stars.”)

whipped cream cheese frosting

Step 3: Frost The Cake

frosted cake

When the cake is completely cool, use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly over top. The frosting won’t show, so no need to fuss over making it perfect.

Step 4: Decorate with “Stars” and “Stripes”

Outline the “stars” section on the upper left corner of the cake with a toothpick (or skip this step and just eyeball it) and fill with a generous layer of blueberries. Arrange 1 row of raspberries across the top of the cake, laying them sideways, like a red stripe. Gently roll the next row of raspberries in the confectioners’ sugar to make a white stripe, and alternate until the flag is completed.

Dip a small handful of the remaining blueberries in the reserved frosting, and then in the remaining cup of confectioners’ sugar to make white “stars.” Evenly scatter the “stars” among the section of blueberries.

Serve the cake directly from the pan. This flag cake is best made on the day of serving or one day ahead of time at most.

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Flag Cake

A soft yellow cake topped with luscious cream cheese frosting and fresh berries, this flag cake makes an impressive and patriotic dessert for a crowd.

Servings: 24
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour, plus time to cool the cake

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting and Topping

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • About 5-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 1 half-pint (6 oz) blueberries (see note)
  • 4 half-pints (24 oz) raspberries (see note)

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Butter and flour a 9x13-in pan, or use nonstick cooking spray with flour in it, such as Baker's Joy or Pam with Flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. (Don't worry if the batter looks a little curdled at this point.)
  4. Reduce the speed to low, then beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add another third of the flour, followed by the remaining buttermilk. Beat in the remaining flour, then scrape down the bowl and beat again until the batter is evenly combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is set and lightly golden around the edges, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting and Topping

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl if using a hand mixer), combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until aerated and light, about 2 minutes. Gradually add 4 cups of the confectioners' sugar, mixing on low speed to combine. Once the confectioners' sugar is mixed in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the frosting (you'll need it for the blueberry "stars.")
  2. When the cake is completely cool, use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly over top. The frosting won't show so no need to fuss over making it perfect.
  3. Outline the "stars" section on the upper left corner of the cake with a toothpick (or skip this step and just eyeball it) and fill with a generous layer of blueberries. Dip a small handful of the remaining blueberries in the reserved frosting, and then in the remaining 1-1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar to make white "stars." Evenly scatter the "stars" over the section of blueberries. Arrange 1 row of raspberries across the top of the cake, laying them sideways, like a red stripe. Gently roll the next row of raspberries in the confectioners' sugar to make a white stripe, and alternate until the flag is completed. (I suggest using one hand for rolling and one for placing; if any powdered sugar accidentally gets on the red "stripes," use your fingertip to dab the berries lightly with water and it will come right off. )
  4. Cut the cake into squares and serve directly from the pan.
  5. Note: The berries should be dry before decorating the cake. (In general, I don't rinse raspberries because they are so delicate.)
  6. Make-Ahead Instructions: This cake can be made one day ahead of time. Cover with plastic wrap and store at cool room temperature away from the sun.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (24 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 piece
  • Calories: 393
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 60 g
  • Sugar: 46 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 143 mg
  • Cholesterol: 72 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I made your delish flag cake for a friends BBQ on the 4th; everyone loved and raves about it ! I baked the cake the night before on the 3rd. The next morning , my 6 yo and I frosted the cake and assembled the fruits on top, according to your directions . The flag cake was spectacular and the perfect dessert Potluck to share. The only hang up was … since I assembled the cake in the morning and put plastic wrap in the frig, the powdered sugar on the raspberries ( especially) made the fruit sweat and powdered sugar was gone . Before the party , I had to put powdered sugar into a bent at the top – paper cup and align along the row of raspberries to cover . Next time, I’ll just do that last part at the party or event . Other then that, the cake was a perfect match to my homemade vanilla bean ice cream! Thank you.. ps, I have a photo too and can email you , if you’d like.

    • — Sandra on July 10, 2019
    • Reply
    • So glad it was a hit, Sandra. Please do email me a photo at [email protected]. I’d love to see!

      • — Jenn on July 10, 2019
      • Reply
  • I made this cake for a post 4th of July BBQ at our house. Everyone loved it. I did make a few modifications, however, to suit our taste. I reduced the sugar in the cake itself by 1/2 cup, thus using 1.5 cups of sugar, and I modified the frosting to add lemon juice and lemon zest, and again reduced the sugar to around 2 and 3/4 cup. It was the perfect sweetness for us and our guests. I also cheated on the decoration, going for alternate layers of raspberries and frosting, instead of rolling the raspberries in sugar, for the white stripes. It was still very pretty and a great basic cake, which can be modified. I can see myself adding lemon to the cake itself, or even almond essence, to make an “almond” cake. Like someone else said, I’ve used recipes from this blog before, and they’ve all come out wonderful, which make me comfortable using a recipe “blind” for my party. Thank you for some very wonderful recipes!

    • — S Tare on July 8, 2019
    • Reply
  • My friend has a July 4th party every single year where everything (and I mean everything) has a flag on it or it’s something patriotic. At the very least, the items are red, white, or blue.

    I normally bring very boring and predictable (safe!) side dishes to her party but this year, after seeing this cake in my inbox, I decided to go for it. I haven’t baked in a long time and why not start with a cake I’ve never made before and serve it to strangers?? What could possibly go wrong?

    Because Jenn’s recipes always turn out, I felt slightly more comfortable than if I were using someone else’s site. And like I predicted, the cake turned out fantastic! I received rave reviews from everyone, and even the professional photographer at the party wanted a picture of me with the cake because she knew it was something that the host would adore.

    Two things I learned from making this fabulous flag cake recipe is that I will never again pay $60 for a birthday cake–everyone is getting something homemade from a recipe from this wonderful website. And blueberries dipped in freshly made cream cheese frosting and covered in confectioner’s sugar taste WAY better than plain.

    Thank you, Jenn!

    I only wish I could upload a photo!

    • — Catherine Nichols on July 5, 2019
    • Reply
    • Yay! So happy it turned out well, Catherine. I wish there was a way to upload a photo. You can always email it to me directly…I’d love to see!

      • — Jenn on July 5, 2019
      • Reply
  • Thanks for this recipe! I had a delightful four year old as a guest for the Fourth and she helped place the berries on top. When we asked how she wanted to celebrate her birthday which is coming up soon, she said, “I want to make a flag cake!”

    • — Jody Spiro on July 4, 2019
    • Reply
  • Fantastic cake! Sweet, but not too sweet with a yummy frosting and fresh berries. What’s not to love? I made this for 4th of July and it was a great hit. Awesome!

    • — MJ loves baking on July 4, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I made the cake today using Cup-4-Cup gluten free flour and followed everything else to a tee. The cake got rave reviews! Note that the raspberries dipped in powdered sugar did not maintain their whiteness after a few minutes, but they were light enough that you could distinguish the different stripes of the “flag.”
    Thanks for another great recipe!

    • — Beth on July 4, 2019
    • Reply
  • Happy 4th to you Jen ,

    Can I make this today or should I just bake this today and frost and assemble fruit tomorrow before the party? Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

    • — Sandra on July 3, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Sandra, You can bake, frost, and decorate it today – it keeps well as long as the berries are dry. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 3, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, how long do you usually leave the butter and cream cheese and egg out to achieve “softness/room temp?”
    Can’t wait to make this tomorrow!

    • — Crissy Brase on July 3, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Crissy, My kitchen is very sunny so 1 to 2 hours is usually enough. If your kitchen is cool, it may take a little longer. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on July 3, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Is the 9 X 13 pan a 1″ or 2″ depth? I was thinking of adding a layer of peaches in the middle and rather than slicing the cake into 2 layers, I was going to use 2 pans that are 1″ depth. What do you think?
    Thanks!

    • — Jaimee on July 3, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Jaimee, My pan is 2 inches deep; I think your plan should work. I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on July 3, 2019
      • Reply
  • Could this be made in a bigger pan? 12 by 15??? If so should I do 1 1/2 recipes? Thanks so much! Feeding a lot of people. Happy 4th!

    • — Janet Miller on July 3, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Janet, Sure…and yes, if you increase the recipe by 1.5, I’d use a half sheet pan.

      • — Jenn on July 3, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    Can you half the recipe? If yes, how much flour do you need?

    Thanks,

    Janelle

    • — Janelle on July 1, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure– technically it will work but you’ll have a square flag instead of a rectangular one. 🙂 You can halve all the ingredients and bake it in an 8 x 8“ pan (baking time may be a bit shorter so keep a close eye on it). Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 2, 2019
      • Reply
  • Could you make this into cupcakes? I understand you would be able to make the flag design but could you just put the berries on top?

    • — Jennifer on July 1, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, Definitely – cook time will be 20 to 25 min. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 1, 2019
      • Reply

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