American Flag Surprise Cake
White and blue layers of almond cake alternated with red velvet cake layers to form a surprise flag pattern when you cut into this buttercream frosted American Flag Surprise Cake.
My son LOVES flags and he especially loves the American Flag. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday party, of course he said, “I want a flag cake.” Then I said, instead of having a flag on top of the cake, how about having a flag INSIDE the cake. He LOVED the idea!
Have you ever made a “surprise” cake? It’s so much fun to serve one at a party, especially when your guests have no idea what’s hidden inside. At my son’s party, as I’m about to cut into the cake, he said, “WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT!” As I sliced into the American Flag Surprise Cake, I got lots of OOHs and AAHs from the boys as I revealed the colorful flag!
And this American Flag Surprise Cake really isn’t hard to make. I’ve never made a flag cake myself and I had to do it in a hurry and under pressure.
On the day of my son’s party (last Friday), I had a lot going on. Let me just say, my day didn’t go as expected. My plan was to have all day to make the cake and prepare for the party while the kids were at school. Well that didn’t happen. Long story short, I didn’t start making the cake until AFTER the guests came and didn’t finish it until about 8 pm. This was fine with the nine little boys that I had at my house though. They were happy to eat it, even if it was a little late!
To make the American Flag Surprise Cake, I used a homemade cake batter for the white and blue layers. Then I used a box mix for the red velvet layer (I was in a hurry).
You will need three 9-inch round cake pans that are at least 1 1/2 inches deep to make this cake. I actually didn’t have three of them, so I used a 9-inch springform pan for the third layer. It worked great!
I lined each pan with parchment paper circles which I cut to fit the pan. I also sprayed the pans with non-stick cooking spray before and after placing the parchment circles.
I baked all three layers on the same rack in a 350°F. oven for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, I made the buttercream frosting (recipe follows).
Once the cakes were cooled, I cut the red layer and the white layer in half horizontally. Then I cut the dome of the red velvet cake off to reserve for the middle of the flag. Then I cut a circle out of the middle of the blue layer by cutting around the outside edge of a 4-inch bowl with a knife. Set aside the middle of the blue layer to eat later (it won’t be used in the flag cake).
How to assemble the American Flag Surprise Cake:
Step 1 – place one red layer on a cake plate. Spread with frosting.
Step 2 – place one white layer on top or red layer. Spread with frosting.
Step 3 – place red layer on top of white layer. Spread with frosting.
Step 4 – place blue layer (with the hole in the middle) on top of red layer.
Step 5 – cut a circle out of the middle of the remaining white and red layers using a 4-inch bowl as a guide.
Step 6 – place a small white circle inside blue layer. Spread with frosting, then add the small red circle on top.
Frost the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting called a crumb coat.
Frost the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Add toothpick flags on top for decoration and candles, if it’s a birthday cake.
This American Flag Surprise Cake would also be great for any patriotic holiday like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July!
Cutting into the cake is the best part!
And here’s my birthday boy. I can’t believe he’s already 11! Why do they grow up so fast!
If you’re interested in seeing more super cute “surprise inside” cakes, you have to check out my friend Amanda Rettke’s awesome cookbook called Surprise Inside Cakes.
- For white & blue cake layers:
- 3 cups cake flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used organic)
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 5 large egg whites, room temperature (I used organic)
- 1 cup whole milk, room temperature (I used organic)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Blue food coloring
- For red velvet cake layers:
- 1 red velvet cake mix, prepared according to package instructions (I used Duncan Hines)
- For the buttercream frosting:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used organic)
- 1 cup vegetable shortening (I used organic)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (2 lb.) bag powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk, plus more if needed (I used organic)
- For decoration:
- Toothpick flags
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment paper. Use pans that are at least 1 1/2 inches deep. Set aside.
- Stir together flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Make batter for white and blue layers first. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium for 2 minutes. Turn mixer to low and gradually add egg whites. Continue beating until completely combined. With mixer on low, gradually add half the flour mixture and half of the milk. Mix until combined, then add remaining flour and milk. Add almond extract. Mix on medium low for 1 minute. Pour half of the batter into a prepared pan. Add blue food coloring to remaining batter. Stir to combine and pour into 2nd prepared pan.
- Meanwhile, prepare the red velvet cake mix according to package instructions. Pour all of the batter into the 3rd prepared pan.
- Bake all 3 layers for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into middle of cake comes out clean. If possible, bake all 3 layers on the middle rack of oven.
- Let cakes cool completely. If time, cover and refrigerate cake layers for 2 hours (they're easier to work with when chilled but you can skip this step if you don't have time).
- Cut the red velvet cake (horizontally) into 3 layers. It's ok if the top layer has a dome shape (reserve this for the top layer of cake). Then cut the white cake (horizontally) to create 2 layers. Using a 4-inch round bowl, trace a circle with a knife in the middle of the blue layer. Remove the circle. Now cut the same size circle out of one of the white layers and cut the same size circle from the top (dome shape) red velvet layer. Set aside.
- For buttercream: Place butter and shortening in a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on medium high for 2 minutes. Turn to low and gradually add half the sugar and half of the milk. Keep mixing until combined, then add remaining sugar and milk. Add vanilla. Once all is combined, turn mixer up to medium high and beat for 2 minutes. Add a few more tablespoons of milk if it's too thick.
- How to assemble the American Flag Surprise Cake:
- Step 1 - place one red layer on a cake plate. Spread with frosting.
- Step 2 - place one white layer on top or red layer. Spread with frosting.
- Step 3 - place red layer on top of white layer. Spread with frosting.
- Step 4 - place blue layer (with the hole in the middle) on top of red layer.
- Step 5 - place a small white circle inside blue layer. Spread with frosting, then add the small red circle on top.
- Frosting the cake:
- Frost the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting called a crumb coat, then frost the cake with the remaining frosting. Add toothpick flags on top for decoration, if desired. Store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
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