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Every Independence Day deserves a showstopper of a cake, and this Flag Cake delivers! My husband is from the Philippines, so we always like to have a little celebration to honor their Independence Day, which is June 12th. Filipinos actually have a second day, July 4th, commemorating the second time they earned their independence. But whichever day you decide to celebrate, flag cake is always welcome!
I know this recipe looks very difficult and maybe intimidating, but I promise you can do this. I am by no means a professional baker, and I’m far more comfortable on the savory side of things. I’ve made this recipe a few times now, and it always comes out beautifully, even with my limited baking skills. In fact, my daughters and I typically make this flag cake each year. It’s fun and lets us spend a lot of quality time together in the kitchen. So if you have kids, regardless of their age or baking experience, you can pull it off together!
While the recipe is long (over a thousand words!), that’s because I really break down each step. I assume that like me, you aren’t a professional baker and maybe make a cake once or twice a year. In fact, this Matcha Cake is the only other cake recipe I’ve ever posted. I detail every single step so you can approach it with confidence. Let’s get into it!
My Baking 101 Tips
My baking trials and errors through the years have taught me a few key points:
- The temperature of ingredients is very important in baking. Use room temperature eggs. If your eggs are straight from the fridge, put them in warm water for 10 minutes. Butter should also be room temperature, which means you should be able to make an indent if you push a finger into it. It should not be greasy soft. Better to start with butter that is a little too cold than squishy soft, which will not aerate properly. Put the butter back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to harden if it’s too soft.
- A kitchen scale is your best friend when baking because it is the most accurate. If you do not have one, make sure you always stir your dry ingredients before scooping. Never pack flour into a measuring cup. And always level off with the back of a butter knife if using the scooping method.
- If you do not bake often, check the expiration date on your baking powder and baking soda. Many times old powders will be the reason your cake did not rise properly.
- Preheating your oven is crucial. Turn on your oven before you start the recipe. If you do not have an automatic beeper letting you know your oven is ready, let your oven heat up for 30 minutes before you start baking.
Baking the Flag Cake
While I’m mixing the eggs and sugar, I heat the butter, oil and milk until the butter is melted and the milk is hot.
I like to tap the cake on the counter several times so that the largest air bubbles come up to the surface and pop. This keep the crumb of the cake free of any large holes. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. A good rule of thumb is to check it early, you can always bake more but you can’t unbake. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
Flag Cake Frosting
If you look up Filipino flag cake, you will see a lot of beautiful flag cakes draped in fondant. Which may be lovely to look at it, but frankly fondant is kind of gross tasting. I wanted a delicious, creamy frosting for mine. I also don’t love frosting made with powdered sugar, I find it always has a weird, chemical aftertaste. And it’s often so sweet. So my flag cake frosting has all the good stuff-all the butter, real sugar, and dairy your heart could desire. This frosting is basically a sweet roux that is enriched with whipped butter. It’s satiny, creamy, and very stable. I think you’ll love it.
I start making the flag cake frosting by making a sweet roux. This is a very simple method but it requires a lot of stirring. Now is not the time to walk away from the stove. The roux thickens as it cooks and can easily stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
Whip the cake flag frosting until it’s thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.
Once the frosting is done, it’s time to prep the fruit!
Flag Cake Fruit Topping
Luckily for us blueberries, mango, and strawberries not only are in season, but they also represent the colors of the Filipino flag. The berries get washed, dried and simply prepped.
The mango gets cut into shapes to represent the flag’s sun and stars:
Then using either biscuit or cookie cutters, cut out a circle and then stars.
Next, using the rest of the mango slices, cut 8 one inch strips and 16 smaller ones. These will be the flag cake’s sun rays.
Now it’s time to put everything together!
Decorating the Flag Cake
Next you will sketch out the flag design in the frosting, using either a chopstick or bamboo skewer. This will just be a basic guide to help decorate with the fruit.
Using that guide, arrange the strawberries like shingles on the bottom half, mimicking the red part of the Filipino flag. Kids can help with this part.
Now you’re going to put the remainder of the frosting in a pastry bag and use it to pipe frosting along the edges of the flag cake to give it a sharp, crisp look.
And with that, phew, you’re done! A magazine cover worthy Flag Cake, no pastry degree required. I can’t emphasize enough how NOT of a baker I am. If I can pull this off, you can too. And I know it seems like a lot of steps, but both the cake and the frosting can be made ahead of time, leaving just the decorating to do when you are ready to celebrate.
I really hope you give this Flag Cake a try, you will be pleasantly surprised by what you can do. Let us see those gorgeous cakes by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen, and please take a moment to rate and comment on the recipe below-we love hearing from you!
For the Cake:
- 2 cups all purpose flour (9 ounces)
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 room temperature large eggs
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar (10.5 ounces)
- ½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- 3 ripe mangoes
- ½ pound blueberries (1 pint)
- ½ pound strawberries
- 10 Tablespoons all purpose flour (3 ounces)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (10.5 ounces)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups unsalted butter (1 pound)
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 dashes of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 and place the shelf in the middle of the oven.
- Spray the inside of a 13×9 pan with nonstick baking spray or liberally butter and flour the pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside until ready to use.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl to combine. Set aside.
- Beat the eggs for 1 minute on medium speed with the whisk attachment (6 on a stand/hand mixer).
- Add the sugar slowly in a stream, raise the speed to medium high (8 on a stand/hand mixer), and beat for 6-7 minutes, scraping the sides down with a rubber spatula once or twice.
- While you are whipping the eggs, heat the butter, oil, and the milk in a small pot over medium low heat. You can also put the milk, oil, and butter in the microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes if you prefer. (You want the butter to be melted and the milk hot, but not boiling.) Once the butter has melted, it’s basically ready to use (takes about 3-4 minutes). Keep the milk on low heat until you are ready to use it. You need it to be hot, not warmish.
- Once the eggs are done being whipped, add the flour mixture in thirds. First add ⅓ of the flour and mix on the lowest available speed (Stir or 1 on stand/hand mixer) for about 10 seconds, then add the second ⅓ and mix for 10 seconds, and finally the last ⅓ for another 10 seconds. Turn off the mixer as soon as you see the flour mixed in.
- Pour the hot milk into a large bowl and add the vanilla. Next add a generous cup of the egg mixture into the hot milk and whisk quickly and briskly until it’s a smooth, thick, and foamy mixture.
- Turn the mixer back on speed 1 and slowly pour the milk mixture into the bowl and mix for 10 seconds. Turn the mixer off and take out the whisk.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and gently fold a couple of times to combine any separate egg batter and milk batters until it is smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Hold the baking pan by the edges and bang the pan down on the counter 8-10 times (I first put down a wet kitchen towel so it deadens some of the sound) to burst any large bubbles in the batter.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick testing the middle comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool on the counter for 15 minutes before gently turning it out of the pan onto a cooling rack.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting:
- Place the flour, sugar, and milk in a saucepan and whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump free.
- Put the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture has thickened and looks like a custard or pudding, about 12 minutes.
- Take a tiny taste. There should be no floury or powdery taste. If it does, cook it for another minute or two to cook it out.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla extract and salt, and stir to combine.
- Then transfer this sweet roux into a bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap down onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- Let the bowl cool to room temperature (you can speed this up by putting the bowl in the freezer for 20-30 minutes). You can also make this ahead and store it in the fridge until ready to make the frosting. You will need to let the roux warm up to room temperature first before continuing with the frosting. The closer in temperature the roux and the butter are to each other, the easier it will be to whip up a thick and smooth frosting. (Do not use the roux warm as it will melt the butter and you will have a soupy mess. A little cold is fine as it will warm up as it gets beaten.)
- Place the butter into the mixing bowl with the whisk attachment. Beat the butter on medium high speed (#8 speed on the stand/handheld mixer) for about 3 minutes until the butter is fluffy and is a pale color.
- Lower the mixer speed to medium (#6 speed on the stand/handheld mixer) and start adding the sweet roux to the butter in generous 2 tablespoon increments. As soon as the roux gets blended in, add in another dollop of roux. (You can turn off the mixer when you’re making the additions if you find yourself making a mess. Then turn the mixer on to #6 speed to incorporate. Switch between on and off until all of the roux has been mixed in.)
- Once all of the roux is added, raise the speed to #8 (medium high), and whip the frosting for 2 to 3 minutes until the frosting is thick, fluffy, and can hold its shape in peaks. Set it aside while you prep the fruit.
Prep the Fruit:
- Wash and dry the strawberries.
- Slice the strawberries into thick slices. Set aside in a bowl.
- Wash and dry the blueberries on paper towels. Lay a couple of new sheets of paper towel in a bowl and set the blueberries in the bowl to finish drying and soak up any remaining water.
- Wash and peel the mangoes.
- Slice both of the mango into thin slices cutting around the pit.
- Using a small 1 inch biscuit cutter, punch a circle out of one of the slices and set aside.
- Next cut out 3 small stars, approximately 1” in size, out of the mango slices, either using a cutter or using a small knife.
- Cut 8 small strips about 1 inch long and then 16 shorter strips to put around the circle to form the center star.
Assemble the Cake:
- Cut the cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife.
- Transfer the bottom piece of cake to a serving platter since it is difficult to transfer the cake once it is frosted and decorated.*
- Put about 4 cups of frosting on the bottom piece of the cake. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting smoothly across the surface. Lay the thin slices of mango across the cake evenly.
- Cover with the top piece of cake. Use another 4 cups of frosting to smooth over the top and sides. Then put the rest of the frosting into a piping bag set with a medium round tip and set aside. You will be piping a border after you place the fruit.
- Next, find the center of your cake and draw a light mark through the frosting using a chopstick or some utensil. Draw one line horizontally and one line vertically through this center spot. Then draw a line from the top left corner to the center spot. And finally draw a line from the bottom left corner to the center spot. You will see that you have drawn a triangle on the left side that cuts into the two halves of the cake.
- Now it’s time to decorate with your prepared fruit.
- At the intersection of the lines, start putting down a row of strawberries on the bottom half of the cake just under the line, on the right side of the triangle. Overlap the strawberries slightly, like shingles. Keep the strawberries just shy of the edge of the cake. You will be filling up the entire wedge section below the triangle on the left side.
- Now place the three small mango stars at the three corners of the triangle area on the left. In the center of the triangle, place the circle. Next take the eight longer strips and place them around the circle. Finally you will take the sixteen smaller strips and put two strips next to each of the longer strips.
- Next you will place the blueberries at the top of the cake so that they mirror the strawberries. Start right above the strawberries and neatly place the blueberries in even lines all the way to the top and edge of the cake.
- Pick up the piping bag and push out any air at the open top of the bag and twist it shut. Squeeze from the top of the bag until you see some frosting coming out of the tip. Hold the tip close to the bottom edge of the cake. Squeezing gently, pipe a straight line along the edge. Then do the same at the top edge of the cake. The piping helps the cake look sharper and neater.
- Take a quick look and admire your work!
- Clean up any smudges around the platter and serve your flag cake with pride.
*I cheat when slicing a large cake and typically will cut down the center to the middle of the cake. Then I will cut horizontally through the cake to where the cut is. This gives me greater control in slicing the cake in half more evenly and no one will notice that the bottom piece of the cake is actually two pieces.
* This cake can be made a day or two ahead. Once the cake has cooled, immediately wrap it in parchment and then either wrap the parchment layer with plastic wrap or place the parment wrapped cake in an airtight container. The parchment paper will keep the cake from sticking to the wrap or container.
*You can make the frosting ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Let the frosting warm up for about 1 hour before whipping for a minute on medium speed to loosen it up.
Keywords: cake, dessert, sweets, filipino, flag cake
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Lunar New Year, one of the most important holidays in China, starts today. But don’t worry, celebrations typically last for weeks. So you have plenty of time to throw your own Lunar New Year dinner party. And no such menu would be complete without Longevity Noodles. Long strands of noodles symbolize a long life, and are served at birthday celebrations as well. There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but this is a special occasion dish. What’s a few extra steps in the pursuit of a long, healthy life? And once you dig into these Longevity Noodles, with their tangy sauce and plump shrimp, savory pork, meaty mushrooms, and crunchy toppings, you’ll know it was worth it.
Longevity Noodles Sauce
I start this recipe by whipping up a very quick, but deeply flavorful sauce. Pantry staples like oyster sauce, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine gets stirred together with some chicken stock and set aside.
Then I move on to prepping the vegetables. Get everything ready so you can move to the stove and set up an assembly line of cooking.
Longevity Noodles Toppings
The toppings are what really set this noodle dish apart. Fried shallots and peanuts and ribbons of egg crepe add tons of flavor and texture. Because this dish has a lot of moving parts, there are some shortcuts I can recommend if you just don’t have the time or energy to go full out.
1. The egg crepe can be substituted with simple boiled eggs. I think soft fried eggs might be nice too, although casual and a little messy.
2. You can buy fried shallots in the Asian market. They come in a tub and you’ll get way more than you need so use the rest to top fried rice, noodles soups, or salads.
3. You can buy roasted peanuts instead of frying your own.
That said, I think you’ll be surprised by how much more flavorful homemade toppings can be. I don’t even really like peanuts, but straight from frying them in the pan, they were pretty great. If you find it’s too much prep work for one day, you can do things in stages. Cut up all of the veggies and start prepping some of the toppings the day before so you can focus on finishing the dish on the second day.
Once cool enough to handle, I cut the stack in half and slice them into ribbons.
It’s important to keep an eye on the shallots. Start them on higher heat and then when they start to get a light golden brown, you can turn the heat down and continue frying until they are evenly fried and a nice bronze color.
Likewise, you want to watch the peanuts carefully. When they have a hint of color and you think you want to leave them for a couple more minutes-Don’t! Take them out. The peanuts are so hot they will count to brown off heat so don’t leave them in the oil too long.
Now that the toppings are done it’s time to make the pork sauce. First I put on a big pot of water because by the time it’s boiling, the pork will be done and it will be time to cook the noodles and shrimp and assemble our Longevity Noodles.
The Shrimp and Noodles
Now we are in the home stretch. At this point your water should be boiling, and we’ll turn off the heat and quickly cook the shrimp in it. This is the perfect way to cook plump and juicy shrimp-indirect heat. Shrimp is so delicate and cooks so quickly, it’s not necessary to hit it with a ton of heat. Gentle cooking is the best way.
Then scoop them out and set aside, and bring the water back to a boil. I know there are an endless variety of noodles in an Asian market. We want long, thin wheat ones for Longevity Noodles. Often you’ll find them just for the occasion, in lucky red boxes. However, I included somen as an option, which is a thin Japanese noodle. It’s similar to the long life noodles and will work if you cannot find the other ones.
Because they are so thin, they cook in under a minute! As soon as the noodles float to the surface, they are ready. After draining them, I give them a quick rinse to remove excess starch. Then I add the toasted sesame oil, coating each strand. This gives extra flavor but also keeps the strands from clumping up.
Now it’s time to assemble! Pour the pork sauce over the noodles, and garnish with all the delicious toppings!
Longevity Noodles are so special and festive, try them for your next celebration! Long life is as good a reason as any to indulge in a big platter of noodles, right? Let me know what you think of them by rating and commenting on the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations!
- 4 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons shaoxing wine
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ½ cup neutral oil
- 3 large shallots
- 5 Tablespoons raw peanuts (with the skins)
- 3 eggs
- 2 scallions, minced
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
- ½ large yellow onion
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon water
- 8 pieces of large shrimp (I used 21/25 size)
- 300 grams ultra thin wheat noodles (about 10 ounces)
- ½ Tablespoon sesame oil
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Make the sauce:
- Combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, and chicken stock in a small bowl.
- Stir to combine and set aside.
Prep the vegetables:
- Cut the stems off of the shiitakes and discard. Slice the mushrooms and set aside.
- Slice the onions thin and set aside.
- Trim, peel, and slice the shallots paper thin.
Prep the Toppings:
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk to scramble them. Set aside.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes. Take a paper towel and crumple it. Dip it into the neutral oil and wipe the inside of the pan with the oil.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of the egg to the pan and swirl it to cover the bottom of the pan. Keep swirling until you don’t have any more liquid egg to swirl.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook the egg for 20 seconds and then take the lid off.
- Blow onto the egg. (The edge will lift up). Flip the egg with chopsticks or a spatula and cook the other side for another couple of seconds.
- Transfer the egg crepe to a plate.
- Continue cooking in the same way until all of the egg is used up and you have a pile of egg crepes. Set the plate aside to cool.
- Heat a small skillet over medium high heat for several minutes with the oil in the pan.
- Test the oil with a piece of shallot. If it sizzles, add the rest of the shallots. If not, heat the oil for another minute or two before adding the shallots.
- Use a pair of tongs or chopsticks to separate the shallots into individual rings. Cook the shallots for 3-4 minutes until starting to get golden. Then, turn the heat to medium and continue cooking until a deep golden brown, another minute or two.
- (If the shallots start to turn dark too soon, turn the heat down or take the pan off of the heat for the rest of the cooking time).
- Transfer the shallots onto some paper towels with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pan.
- Add the peanuts to the shallot oil and heat the pan over medium low heat for about 5 minutes until the nuts are golden in color.
- Transfer the peanuts with a slotted spoon onto some paper towels and set aside.
- Reserve the oil.
- Bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a pot over high heat. Then put a lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat for several minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon of the reserved peanut oil and add the ground pork. Let the pork cook for 2 minutes untouched before using a spatula to break up the meat. Continue cooking for a minute.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms and stir to combine.
- Next, add the onions and the garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the pork is fully cooked.
- Add the sauce and cook for another 3-4 mins. until the sauce has reduced a little and the onions are tender.
- Add the cornstarch and stir quickly to incorporate.
- Cook the sauce for another minute to thicken.
- Set aside the pan while you boil the noodles.
Shrimp and Noodles:
- Take the lid off of your pot and make sure that your pot of water is boiling. Add the shrimp, turn off the heat, and let the shrimp sit in the water for 2 minutes to cook. Scoop the shrimp out and set aside.
- Return the water to a boil and add the noodles and cook them for approximately 40 seconds to 1 minute. As soon as the noodles float to the surface, they are cooked. If you’re not sure, take a quick taste.
- Drain the noodles in a colander in the sink, rinse with running water to remove excess noodle starch, and then shake the colander to make sure you have eliminated as much water as possible.
- Add the sesame oil to the noodles and mix well to coat the strands. Transfer the noodles to a large serving platter and spread them out a little.
- Pour the meat sauce over the noodles. Garnish the noodles with the egg crepe, peanuts, fried shallots and scallions. Put the shrimp around the noodles or group them on one area of the dish.
- Serve Longevity Noodles immediately.
*This dish has many steps but it’s a celebration dish which requires a little more time and care. If you would like to cut down on some of the steps, here are some suggestions:
- You can substitute the egg crepe with simple soft boiled eggs. Simmer the eggs on medium heat for 8 minutes. Cool under running water and then peel and cut the eggs in half.
- Buy toasted peanuts and skip cooking them yourself.
- You can also buy ready to use fried shallots at an asian market. They come in a container and can be used as a topping for other noodle dishes, fried rices, etc.
*The remaining oil can be used for any of your cooking needs.
Keywords: lunar new year, good luck, long life, noodles,