American Flag Cake

Author Lightly Adapted from food52


for the vanilla cake

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 egg whites , beaten until they hold stiff peaks (set aside while you make the batter)
  • Gel food coloring
  • Special equipment: 3 6-inch round cake pans , parchment paper cut into 6-inch rounds

for the frosting

  • 4 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 8 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Dash of salt


make the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease cake pans; then place parchment round in the bottom of the pan.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar on medium speed of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the creamed butter, alternating between wet and dry ingredients and beating after each addition. Add the vanilla until combined, then fold in the beaten egg whites until smooth.
  3. For the white cakes: do nothing! The batter can be baked as is. For the red cakes: add about 10 drops of gel food coloring (this is just an estimate! Add more if the color is too pale). For the blue cake: add about 10 drops of gel food coloring (or more if it looks too pale).
  4. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes completely on cooling racks.

assemble the cake

  1. Cut the white and red cakes into even layers, between ¾ to 1-inch thick. Now you should have 6 layers. Use a 5-inch circle cookie cutter (or trace around a 5-inch plate) to cut one of the white layers and one of the red layers into a smaller circle.
  2. Use the 5-inch cutter to remove the center of the thicker blue cake. This cake will remain in one thick layer.
  3. To build the cake, start with a large red layer and spread a thin coating of buttercream on top. Top with a white layer, and spread buttercream thinly on top. Repeat with another red and another white layer -- four layers total.
  4. Top this white layer with the thick blue layer (center removed). Spread a thin amount of frosting on the 5-inch red layer, and top it with the 5-inch white layer. Now push and pat the 5-inch layers inside the hole of the blue layer. Now the cake has been assembled!
  5. Frost the cake with the remaining frosting, using a small offset spatula to make it swirly.

make the frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and dash of salt. Add the cream gradually, mixing until a smooth, creamy texture.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from lightly Adapted from food52