Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ina Garten's Flag Cake

This is a very special and very favorite recipe of mine. I made this for the first time right around the same time I discovered how amazing Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) is. It was Spring 2007, and my husband was preparing for a 15 month deployment to Iraq. It wasn't our first deployment together, but it certainly was the first deployment during our whole 18 months of marriage. See, I met my husband online while he was deployed in the Summer of 2004. So while we had experienced a deployment together, it was a long distance relationship anyway, so we didn't know any different at the time. Anyway, while I was planning a goodbye party for my love I saw Ina make this recipe on her show. It couldn't have been more perfect! It looked like a flag, and it had fresh berries, which my husband loves. 

There are so many things I love about this recipe, but the thing I love the most is the frosting. It's a cross between a butter cream and cream cheese frosting. The cake is a dense but soft and lovely white cake and the combination of that with the frosting goes perfectly with the fresh blueberries and raspberries. It's divine.

Ina makes this cake in a large sheet pan but I've adapted it nowadays as a two layer cake. Baking instructions are the same, I just start checking for done-ness around 25 minutes. The cake is delicious either way you make it, but will definitely serve more people if you go with the sheet cake option. This cake is perfect for any occasion, it's always a crowd pleaser and will get you lots of "oohs and ahhs".

18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the icing:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To assemble:
2 half-pints blueberries, 1 pint if you're making a two layer cake
3 half-pints raspberries, 1 pint if you're making a two layer cake
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour an 18 by 13 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.

For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.

Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

I serve this cake right in the pan. If you want to turn it out onto a board before frosting, use parchment paper when you grease and flour the pan.

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