Sure, there are lots of desserts that are perfectly appropriate for a backyard barbecue. Trifles highlight some of the season’s best bounty. Ice cream cakes are a cool way to deal with the summer heat. And fruit pies are as American as, well, apple pie. But when that barbecue falls around the 4th of July, there’s only one dessert that should be on the menu: a flag cake.
The key to a flag cake is a perfectly cooked sheet cake base. To achieve this, use the baking times as a guide. Rely more on visual cues, which are the best way to determine doneness. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out with a few crumbs attached, and the cake should spring back when pressed lightly. From there, it’s a matter of carefully turning out the cake, frosting it, and decorating it in the likeness of the American flag. America the beautiful, indeed.
TURNING OUT A SHEET CAKE
1. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cooled cake to loosen it. Be careful not to scratch the bottom of the cake pan.
2. Gently flip the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack.
3. Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake and place a large inverted platter over the cake.
4. Holding both the rack and the platter firmly, gently flip the cake right side up onto the platter.
MAKING A FLAG CAKE
1. Using fresh blueberries, outline a 6 by 4½-inch rectangle in the top left corner of the frosted cake.
2. Make diagonal rows of blueberries within the outline, leaving just a blueberry’s width between the rows.
3. Lay additional blueberries evenly between the rows to make a blueberry “checkerboard.” Gently press on the berries so that they adhere and have an even height.
4. For the red “stripes” lay raspberries on their side and gently nestle them next to one another. There should be 4 short rows of raspberry stripes across the top of the cake and 3 long rows of raspberry stripes across the bottom of the cake. Gently press on the berries to adhere.