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 American Flag Cake | 4th of July | Memorial Day | Labor Day | Peek a boo Cake | Dairy Free | Recipe | Tutorial

Our oldest is starting Kindergarten next week, so my husband wanted to take her for a daddy-daughter day before letting her go off into the world. We only have one car, so this left me at home with our 3 and 1 year olds for a whole day. Our middle child has had a hard time with all the attention that her older sister has been getting over this whole school thing, so I wanted to do something special with her while daddy was off doing something special with the big sister.

So, we live streamed the 3 of us decorating this American flag cake.

Why an American flag cake in September, you ask? Well, because Labor Day is on Monday. Plus it’s a really cool technique that I thought would make the viewing interesting for those that joined us live.

Baking with kids

It was quite the experience doing the whole live thing with my two youngest without my oldest there to help rein their crazy in. My 3 year old ended up saying ‘friggin’ and ‘damn’, calling me ‘Mom Bro’, and breaking one of my turn tables by flinging it off of the counter. My 1 year old continuously babbled underneath my attempt at instructions on how to assemble this cake and was only quiet when she was sucking icing directly out of the piping bags. But they balanced it out with sweet kisses and reassuring me when my icing FELL OFF THE SIDE OF THE CAKE! “Don’t worry Mom; you can fix it”. I made mention about it being Friday just to have a friend remind me that it was actually Thursday, and basically felt like a chicken with my head cut off the whole time because it was all pretty chaotic.

But that’s why I loved it so much: it was a very real, unedited, unfiltered look into mom life. It’s messy and loud and hilarious and beautiful all at once. And it is 100% mine.

Posted by My Own Unexpected Journey on Thursday, September 1, 2016

Despite all the chaos, we actually managed to produce a friggin awesome cake!

American Flag Cake

This is a vanilla cake, filled with cherry pie filling, with vanilla frosting. I never do fruit fillings because I’m a frosting junkie, but I am so glad that I tried something new, because it was delicious. The cherry pie filling is not as sweet as frosting, so you get a cake that is sweet, (but not too sweet), light, and fruity. Perfect for a Labor Day/Memorial Day/ 4th of July get together.

American Flag Cake

Especially with all that Patriotic spirit inside and out.

American Flag Cake

American Flag Cake

I first saw this flag cake on Glorious Treats about two years ago. I desperately wanted to make it for the 4th of July, but it just never worked out. Then I got the perfect opportunity to do it for my husband’s birthday this year, because he is a huge Captain America fan. So the outside looked like Cap’s shield, and the inside had the American flag. If anyone bleeds red, white, and blue, it’s Captain America.

Captain America American Flag Cake

Since I was live streaming the construction of our most recent American flag cake, I could not take pictures of the progress. So I will be using the step-by-step pictures that I took while constructing my husband’s Captain America cake. His cake had a dairy free caramel sauce filling because he is a caramel junkie. I just wanted to clarify that before jumping in to the instructions so no one gets confused.

To make this cake, you will need to bake:

  • One 8″ round blue cake
  • One 8″ round white cake
  • Two 8″ round red cakes

(I will include the vanilla cake recipe that I used at the end of this post, as well as my frosting recipe, and the caramel sauce recipe)

A lot of people choose to keep the outside design of their “peek-a-boo” cakes simple, so that the inside of the cake really shines. A choice which is also really classy, and frankly just less time consuming. An example would be this one from I Am Baker.

USA Surprise Inside Cake

So the outside of the cake is up to you. But if you want to do the red, white, and blue stripes that I did for the Labor Day cake, then you will need 3 batches of vanilla frosting. One batch will be a firmer consistency and is solely for damming the cake (I will explain that bit later). You will then need to divide the 2 batches of regular consistency frosting into 3 somewhat even parts (keeping in mind that you will need a bit more white for the dollops on top). One part will stay white. Before separating the other 2 parts, add 1 tablespoon of sifted cocoa powder and mix well; this will help get a nice deep red and deep blue. You won’t need to use as much food coloring so there isn’t a risk of your frosting tasting of artificial flavors. The only extra flavor you’ll get is a hint of chocolate, and who’s going to complain about that? Then divide that into 2 equal parts, using icing gel colors to tint one red and the other blue.

If you are doing the cherry pie filling, then you will also need 2 cans of cherry pie filling.

The first thing you will need to do is split both red cakes horizontally, so that you end up with 4 even layers of red cake. One of these layers will not be needed for the cake, so you have a bit of extra cake for the kids to eat (or for you to eat when the kids are asleep; I won’t tell anyone). Next, you need to take a 4″ circle cookie cutter and cut a 4″ circle out of one of the red layers. You will not need any of the cake leftover from that layer. So when it’s all said and done, you will have two 8″ layers and one 4″ layer of red cake.

Next, you need to cut the white cake horizontally, so that you have two even layers. Wipe the red crumbs off of the cookie cutter and cut a circle out of one of the white layers. Again, you will not need any of the leftover cake from that layer. So you will be left with one 8″ layer and one 4″ layer of white cake.

Lastly, you will need to cut a 4″ circle out of the middle of the blue cake using that same circle cookie cutter. You should be left with an 8″ blue cake that looks like a doughnut. It will also be twice as thick as the red and white layers because you are NOT cutting it horizontally.

If you are using a soft filling (like fruit or caramel or cookie dough or really anything that is not frosting), you will need to put a dam of frosting around the outer rim of the cake before adding your filling. The dam of frosting will prevent the filling from oozing out the sides of the cake. This is a great YouTube video on how to dam and fill a cake.

Put a bit of white frosting on the cake board so that the cake won’t slide around. Then put down one of your 8″ red layers. Add a damn/filling or frosting. Then put down your 8″ white layer. Again, put your filling or frosting. Then put your last 8″ red layer. Again–fill/frost. Next, add your blue doughnut cake.

American Flag Cake

Apply a thin layer of white frosting to the inner ring of the doughnut hole.

American Flag Cake

The put your 4″ white layer inside of the doughnut hole. Put a thin layer of frosting on top, and add the 4″ red layer.

American Flag Cake

The 4″ cakes should now be level with the top of the blue cake. If they are not level, then do whatever you need to do to make them level: put extra filling in between the 4″ white and 4″ red to make them taller, or shave off a bit of the 4″ red layer to make it shorter. But it has to be flush on top.

American Flag Cake

To do the red, white, and blue stripes on the sides, put each frosting into it’s own piping bag, and cut off the ends of the bags.

American Flag Cake

Starting with the red, pipe two rows all around the side of the cake, allowing the top row to extend just a bit over the top of the cake. You will use all the frosting in the bag.

Next, pipe two rows of white underneath the red.

Lastly, pipe two rows of blue underneath the white.

Take a bench scraper and smooth the sides of the cake, scraping the excess frosting off of the bench scraper onto the side of a bowl. Be sure to remove all of the frosting before smoothing the cake again, or else you will mix up the colors on the cake.

Again, because I was live streaming the construction of this cake, I do not have any pictures of this process for you. But you can watch my video link above, or check out this one from I Am Baker for a sped up look at the same technique.

Since I was doing this live on Facebook, the damn frosting decided to fall off on one part before I could smooth it out. And of course, I did not have any extra frosting. So I had to carefully salvage the fallen frosting and did my best with damage control. But this is definitely the back of the cake.

American Flag Cake

My sweet husband told me it looked like a watercolor effect. Bless him.

For the top of the cake, I did a thin layer of white frosting. Then my 3 year old helped me add white dollops along the edge of the cake using a large open star tip. (The dollops need to be very close together so the filling can’t ooze out). Then we added more pie filling in the middle of our dollop circle for the cherry on top.

American Flag Cake

Get it? Because the pie filling has cherries in it?

Since it was being live streamed, I had to cut into it right away so everyone could see what we had worked so hard for. Because the filling was at room temperature, it oozed. But, who doesn’t mind a little oozing when it looks this good?

American Flag Cake

American Flag Cake

So there it is–the awesome American flag cake that was made in utter chaos! But, that’s just life, isn’t it? Completely chaotic. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.

American Flag Cake

Dairy Free Vanilla Cake

(This recipe is from Beyond Wonderful)

Will make two 8″ rounds, or three 6″ rounds, or 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 cups sifted sugar, separated
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on a medium-high speed. Add 1/2 cup of sifted sugar a bit at a time. Whisk until glossy and reaches a soft peak.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  3. When egg whites have peaked, fold into the other ingredients 1/3 at a time.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Note to add the food coloring for this red, white, and blue cake: First of all, you’ll need two batches of this recipe for this cake design. Add red food coloring to the large mixing bowl with all the other ingredients BEFORE folding in the egg whites. For the second batch, go through all the steps as normal, but only fill 1 cake pan with batter (this will be your one 8″ white later). Then fold in blue food coloring to the remaining batter.

Dairy Free Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • Cream the shortening with the flat beater attachment of your stand mixer on a medium speed until creamy (like the consistency of mayonnaise)
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla extract and mix again.
  • Add 1 cup of the sifted powdered sugar and mix well
  • Add a 1/3 of the almond milk and mix well
  • Continue to alternate adding powdered sugar and almond milk until desired consistency is reached.

Note: For regular frosting, I only add 3 cups of powdered sugar. But if I’m making frosting with the intention of damming a cake, then I use 4 cups of powdered sugar to get a firmer frosting. So for this cake design, I made 1 batch of the thicker frosting, and 2 batches of the regular frosting.


Since I mentioned the use of diary free caramel sauce, I thought I would include that recipe as well since diary free anything is hard to come by. This recipe is adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Dairy Free Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 6 Tablespoons stick margarine (if you need it 100% dairy free, be sure to buy a vegan brand)
  • 1 cup sifted sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Cut the margarine into 6 cubes. Set aside near the stove. Measure out your 2 tablespoons of almond milk into a liquid measuring cup, so it’s ready to pour; set near the stove. Also have your teaspoon and sea salt at the ready. The process moves quickly once the sugar is liquid, so you will need to be prepared.
  2. Heat the sifted sugar over a medium heat in a pan (preferably a pan that has a wide base, like an omelet pan). Do not stir it until the bottom begins to liquefy. Then stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely melted and turns an amber brown. Through this process, the sugar will clump together; just keep stirring it until it’s all liquid. DO NOT ADD THE MARGARINE UNTIL ALL THE CLUMPS ARE GONE!
  3. Add the 6 cubes of margarine. It will splatter, so be careful. Stir it in until it’s completely melted.
  4. Add the 2 tablespoons of almond milk and continue mixing. Again, it will splatter and bubble, so be careful.
  5. Allow it to boil while continuing to mix it for 1 minute. It will rise and bubble something fierce.
  6. Take it off of the heat and immediately stir in the sea salt.
  7. Allow to completely cool before using.
  8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for a week.

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