Ina Garten’s 5 Easy Tips for Baking Her Popular Flag Cake

Is it even the Fourth of July without Ina Garten’s flag cake? For those who make the Barefoot Contessa cake without fail every Independence Day, or those who simply want to give it a try, consider Garten’s flag cake tips. 

1. Ina Garten flag cake tips: Don’t overmix the flour

During an episode of her Food Network show, Barefoot Contessa, Garten demonstrated how to make her flag cake. Along the way, she shared some tips.

“What could be better for an all-American grill than a flag cake? It’s this wonderful cake, a sponge cake, and the whole thing is decorated to look like an American flag with fresh blueberries and raspberries and cream cheese frosting,” Garten explained. “How bad can that be?” 

As she prepared the batter in a standing mixer, one of the gadgets she always has in her kitchen, Garten shared tips on adding the flour. 

First, she cautioned against over-mixing, saying “the only time you really want to be careful is when you start adding the flour.” 

Not only that but she also advised adding it to the mixer slowly. “This is the only time to make sure the mixer’s not on high because you’ll be wearing the flour and that you mix it just until it’s mixed,” she said. 

As for combining the wet ingredients — sugar, butter, and eggs — there’s no concern about over-mixing. “This is the stage where you really can’t overbeat it,” Garten said. 

2. The Barefoot Contessa recommends sour cream for richness

Sour cream isn’t something Garten only reserves for her sour cream coffee cake recipe. It’s also in her flag cake. 

And, as she said on her show, it might be slightly out of the norm but it makes the dessert better. “It’s a little unusual for a cake but it really gives it a nice richness,” Garten said as she added it to the batter. 

3. Ina Garten flag cake tips: line the pan with parchment paper

Garten’s flag cake tips continue with using parchment paper to line the pan. For this particular recipe, she uses a half-sheet pan, her most-used kitchen tool, to mimic the shape of an American flag. 

Before she pours the batter into the pan she makes sure it has a layer of parchment paper on the bottom. “I’ve lined it with a little parchment paper so it’ll come out after I’ve finished baking it,” Garten said. There’s “no point in making a cake if you can’t get it out of the pan,” she added. 

A bonus, it also helps Garten with cleaning sheet pans. 

4. The Barefoot Contessa suggests practicing using a piping bag before decorating the cake

Garten has various cake decorating tips. For some Barefoot Contessa cakes, she opts for an easy yet impressive chevron pattern. Other times she frosts only the top of the cake. 

In the case of Garten’s flag cake, she fills a pastry bag with “really easy buttercream frosting” to pipe stars and stripes. Her tip? Practicing before decorating the flag cake. 

“If you’re not comfortable with piping icing, I’ll show you what you want to do. Just try it right on the counter or on a board or something like that,” she said. 

“You can do stripes or, if it’s easier, you can just do stars in a row,” she added as she demonstrated. “I’m going to do the stripes. But just keep doing that until it’s comfortable for you.”

5. Ina Garten flag cake tips: use a toothpick or knife to outline the ‘blueberry field’

Finally, for the decorating, or what Garten referred to as “the fun part.” 

“I’m going to draw the space where the blue background goes for the stars,” she said as she drew a small rectangle in the top, left-hand corner. “Then I’m going to fill the whole square in with blueberries.” 

From there, Garten continued decorating. Finally, with the rows of raspberry stripes done and stars on the “blueberry field,” Garten’s flag cake was complete.

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