Yes, I know I missed Fourth of July by over a month and I know that I don’t live in America. But you see my sister is off on a six-month adventure to Santa Cruz in America for a university exchange. To celebrate we had a big family farewell lunch for her this weekend.
Seeing my sister about to embark off on the incredible adventure that is exchange made me reminisce about my own exchange. I was lucky enough to spend a year in Paris as part of my international studies degree. The friends I made in that year and the experiences I had are something that I will forever cherish. It’s a year of discovery. You discover more about who you are as a person. It makes you stronger because you have to deal with so many foreign experiences. For me, the French bureaucracy was one of the hardest things I faced. But by the end, it is this new knowledge that makes you a more well rounded person and better abled to equip yourself with whatever life throws your way. It is also a year of discovery of the city you find yourself in. I may be biased, but I think Paris is the best city to get lost in. You uncover so many hidden gems walking down tiny alleys searching for the way back to your apartment; cafes that you would have never known existed and charming boutiques that only the locals know about.
I could probably talk about my time away forever, suffice to say it was incredible, and I am so envious of my little sister and what I know is in store for her. While France may be the land of fromage and baguettes, America is better known for its red velvet cakes, smores and fried chicken wings. So, in keeping with an American theme I decided to make and American flag cake. Having seen some of the fantastic creations on other food blogs for Fourth of July I was inspired to try my own.
The cake I’ve made here looks more impressive than it actually is. It is essentially a simple butter cake with butter cream icing, topped with fresh fruit. Depending on the theme you were after you could simply lay the fruit out in a different pattern (i.e. to make a French or Japanese flag or simply arrange some berries on top). But the beauty of a simple cake is that it is a classic. It is simple because the flavours work. The buttery crumb of the cake is light and moist and the icing is sweet and delicate. And the addition of berries helps make the cake seem somehow fresher. This is the sort of dessert your grandma would have made, and she had good reason to. So make grandma proud and give this a go for yourself.
American Flag Butter Cake with Buttercream Icing
- 500g butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups caster sugar
- 6 eggs
- 4 ½ cups plain flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
Butter Cream Icing:
- 250g softened butter
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 1 punnet blueberries
- 2 punnets raspberries
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two 20cm square cake tins or one large rectangle tin.
- Beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until the light and creamy and the mixture is light in colour.
- Beat eggs in one at a time.
- Stir in sifted flour and milk in four batches, first flour then milk.
- Pour mixture into pans and even out with a knife.
- Bake cakes for 1 hour. Stand in tins for 5 minutes then invert, top-side up, onto a cooling rack.
- Once cool, trim the tops of cake with a serrated knife to even the surface if necessary.
- To make icing mix butter, icing sugar and milk together until smooth. Once smooth, beat with electric beaters for a minute or two until the icing becomes light and airy.
- Assembly: If using two square cakes you will need to cut one of the square cakes into pieces to form a rectangle with the two cakes. Otherwise, if you using rectangle cake you can just start icing with the buttercream.
- Use a knife dipped in hot water to ice cake as it makes the icing easier to spread. Spread icing evenly on top and sides.
- Place blueberries in top left hand corner making a rectangle shape. Then place raspberries in straight lines across the rest of the cake.