American Flag Cake

This American Flag Cake has a show-stopping interior with cake layers assembled to create a flag design in every slice. Serve it for any patriotic holiday or event.

I’ve seen many beautiful American Flag Cakes over the years, and this one is the one I’ve always wanted to attempt. It’s so striking. The simple white exterior gives no hint to the show-stopping flag design inside. Last week I decided to try it with a white sour cream cake batter. The food color took so well, and the sour cream in the batter helped the sponge keep its moist, tender texture. As I sliced it for the first time – with bated breath – I was pleased to see the interior did indeed resemble ‘Old Glory’ – hooray!

This cake would be so fun for July Fourth, or for other patriotic holidays and events. Full disclosure: it does take some time to put together. But it’s really not hard to do. The real work is in getting the cake layers torted and shaped for assembly. Once that business is handled, you’ll simply stack and frost.

This American flag cake is definitely something to make on a day you’re feeling crafty in the kitchen (a.k.a. getting your bake on). The design inspiration is from a , which was posted more than a decade ago. I think this scratch-made version is well worth the extra effort.

The thing I didn’t expect was all the cake scraps left over from trimming the layers. And there’s a LOT, I tell ya! Those scraps made some fine cake pops, or you could cube the leftovers for a few very patriotic-looking trifles.

White Sour Cream Cake Batter

Start by mixing up the white cake batter. This recipe requires 9 egg whites from large eggs. So add an extra dozen to the shopping list. Divide the cake batter between two bowls. Next, tint one of the bowls with red food color.

Next, divide the remaining bowl of batter into two bowls. Then tint one bowl with blue food color. Leave the other half white/plain. Transfer the red batter to a greased and floured 9″ round cake pan. Then transfer the blue and white batters each to prepped 9″ round cake pans. You’ll notice that the red batter pan will be much fuller than the blue and white batter pans. There’s no mistake; you’re on the right track.

Bake and Cool

Bake the thinner blue and white layers at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. The red layer needs longer in the oven, about 30-35 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick.

Prep the White Layers

Torte (a verb in the pastry kitchen that means to cut horizontally) the white layer into two even pieces. Keep one of the pieces whole. Cut a 5″ circle from the center of the other piece. Do this with a large pastry ring, or make yourself a 5″ round template cut from parchment paper.

Reserve the 5″ white cake center for assembling the cake, and put the outer ring in a scrap bowl.

Prep the Blue Layer

Do not torte the blue layer. Cut a 5″ round from the middle of the cake. Keep the outer ring for cake assembly, and put the center 5″ round in the scrap bowl.

Prep the Red Layers

Torte the red layer, which is thicker, into three even layers. Keep the two bottom layers whole for cake assembly. Flip the layer that was the top of the cake cut-side up (pictured above). Trim a 5″ round circle from the center and keep the round for cake assembly. Put the outer red ring into the scrap bowl.

Assemble the Layers

The delicious spackle that holds this cake together is simple American vanilla-almond buttercream. It’s easy to whip up, spreads evenly, and pipes like a dream. The recipe provided makes a big batch, which is plenty to use on this cake and leftovers that can be used to make the cake scraps into cake pops.

Place a whole red cake layer on a serving plate or cake board. Top with 1/2 cup of buttercream and spread evenly. Next, top with a whole white layer. Repeat frosting. Top with another whole red layer; frost.

Place the blue cake ring on top of the frosted red layer. Gently frost the inside ring of the blue cake.

Fill with the 5″ white cake circle. Gently fit it into the hole and press down with your fingertips. Cover with a thin layer of buttercream.

Finally, the small red cake circle is layered into the hole. Press down gently to make sure all the layers sandwich together well.

Save the Scraps for Cake Pops

As I stated earlier – holy cake scraps, Batman. I had no idea I’d be dealing with so much, so let this be fair warning. See recipe notes for turning these into cake pops or trifles. My vote is for cake pops. Because sprinkled with red, white, and blue sprinkles, they make a fun accompaniment to this American flag cake.

Decorate (Just a Little)

Frost the entire cake and then pipe swirls of buttercream around the top edge. Immediately scatter on some patriotic colored nonpareils. I kept the outside of the cake relatively simple. Because the most import part of the cake’s design is on the inside! The simple white exterior really lets the interior shine.

I decided that candles would be the perfect way to say Happy Birthday America, for July Fourth (the red and blue ones from Meri Meri pack). You could do the same, but it’s just as nice without.

I really learned a lot making this American flag cake. But slicing it made my inner perfectionist squirm a little. Because you’re going to have some red and blue crumbs visible on the white stripes when you cut it. But hey – it’s cake! It’s supposed to do that. However, I did remove them with the end of a butter knife for these beauty shots.

There’s no form over function – or design over deliciousness here. This is a very moist, delicious scratch-made white cake with bright tasting vanilla almond buttercream. Tasting it with my eyes closed, it could be wedding cake.

Related recipe:

American Flag Cake

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  • 9” cake pans (3)
  • Offset spatula
  • Large closed star piping tip #849
  • Small star tip #21
  • Piping bags



White Cake

American Vanilla-Almond Buttercream



  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter together until creamy. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the extracts and mix again.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Add in half of the sour cream; mix well. Pour in another 1/3 of the flour; mix until just combined. Add the remaining sour cream and milk. Mix to combine. Finally add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix again briefly to make sure no pockets of flour remain.
  • Divide the cake batter into two big bowls. Tint one of the bowls with the red food color. Add a little at a time while mixing until a vibrant red hue is achieved.
  • Divide the remaining white batter into two bowls. Tint one bowl with the blue food color. Add a little at a time until a deep vibrant blue is achieved. Leave the remaining bowl untinted.
  • Pour each batter into a separate prepared baking pan. There will be more batter in the red pan than in the blue and white batter pans.
  • Bake the blue and white batter pans for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Bake the red batter pan for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cakes cool in the pans 10 minutes, and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  • Cut the white cake layer in half horizontally using a serrated knife or cake leveler. Cut a 5-inch round from the center of the cake. Keep the 5” middle piece and whole white layer for cake assembly. Save the outer ring for cake scraps.

Vanilla-Almond Buttercream

  • Combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on low speed until crumbly.
  • Add the milk or cream to thin. Beat in the extracts.
  • Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. If mixture is dry add more milk or cream a little at a time until whip-able. Beat until the frosting lightens in color to opaque white, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer one cup of the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star decorator piping tip. Transfer 1/2 cup of buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a small star decorator piping tip. Set aside.

Assemble the Cake

  • Place a 9” red cake layer on a cake board or serving plate. Top with 1/2 cup of buttercream and spread evenly. Top with a 9” white cake layer. Spread on 1/2 cup of buttercream. Next, add a 9” red layer, again frosting evenly with 1/2 cup buttercream.
  • Top with the 9” blue cake ring. Frost the inside of the ring with buttercream. Layer in the 5” white cake layer; cover with buttercream. Finally, layer in the 5” red cake round with the cut-side down.
  • Crumb coat the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Save leftover buttercream for cake pop making (see notes). Refrigerate the cake until the frosting firms, about 15 minutes.
  • Apply a final even coat of buttercream all over the cake. Smooth evenly with a cake smoother or bench scraper. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Then, pipe swirls of buttercream around the top edge of the cake with the reserved bag of frosting. Immediately cover with nonpareils.
  • Pipe a shell border around the bottom edge of the cake and immediately cover with the nonpareils.
  • Refrigerate the cake to firm the frosting, another 15-20 minutes. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving. Or, cut the cake while still chilled for very neat slices, but bring to room temperature before enjoying.




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