If you’re looking for an easy and festive dessert for Labor Day barbecues, look no further than this flag-themed paleo sheet cake! It’s a fun and fast project that travels well, too. But it’s not just a flag cake. You can decorate it to feel a crowd for any occasion!
This one was a reader request inspired by this. In general, I don’t believe that a food blog is the place for political discourse, nor do I subscribe to this notion that just because you have a place on the internet where people read what you have to say, you have the right to wax poetic about whatever you feel like.
Well, I guess, technically, you do. It’s your place on the internet. But you’re not going to find 1,000 words on all my feelz about the current political situation – though, believe me, I have many – on this blog
anytime soon ever.
But … cake. Cake is my jam and my area of expertise and anytime you are feeding a crowd, it is never a bad idea to have a (paleo) sheet cake on hand, especially with Labor Day celebrations right around the corner. If you have no idea how I got from politics to cake, watch this clip and skip to 2:45.
Since it’s just a coincidence that sheet cakes happen to be the talk of the town, at least in my particular Tina-Fey-Worshipping internet echo chamber, who am I to not spend my Friday night tinkering with my vanilla cake recipe to transform it into the cake of the moment??
Now, I know what you’re thinking: but sheet cakes are supposed to be wide and made in a sheet pan! Ok, ok, maybe they are. But here’s where I will stand my ground and debate with you until I’m blue in the face. What is the point of making a cake in a sheet pan?? It’s so thin! So unsatisfying! Sure, you get a wider piece, but where is the satisfaction of plunging your fork deep into the tender crumb-y abyss, the crucial first step in the process of enjoying a slice of cake?! I think the idea of making a sheet cake in a sheet pan is way overrated, and I think you do, too. It’s ok to admit it. This is a safe space.
So I made it in a glass baking pan. A proper pan with twice as high sides, which hold and form twice as thick cake. And I don’t mean that hypothetically. This cake is more of a deep dish sheet cake, like the one in the video linked above, and I think we should all take a deep breath, step forward, and admit that this is totally how we’ve always preferred our sheet cake.
Before we start eating, let me give you a few tips for baking:
- This recipe calls for organic canola oil. This is the product I use. It’s from NOW Foods, and is always non GMO, organic, and packaged and stored in glass bottles (no plastic, if that concerns you). You can read some more about the product on the NOW Foods site, including the health implications. However, I know some of you aren’t comfortable using even good quality canola oil, so you can replace it with grapeseed oil. I do not recommend coconut oil for this cake.
- Depending on your preference, and the occasion, you may want to remove this from the pan before frosting and decorating. Keeping it in the pan is ideal for transporting, but if you’re making and serving this at home, you can turn out of the pan and frost and decorate it upside down like a bakery-style sheet cake.
- You can use any frosting you’d like, particularly if you are not making this into a flag. Here is my favorite healthy, homemade chocolate frosting, which always gets rave reviews. The vanilla frosting I used here is not homemade; it is Simple Mills’s real food-based frosting (they also make a chocolate flavor). If you’d like a white topping that is homemade, you could try my sugar free whipped (coconut) cream.
- To make this in advance, make and cool the cake, then wrap tightly in several layers of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Frost and decorate immediately before serving. If you’re traveling with this cake to a party, it is ideal to frost and decorate the cake before it is served, but if you need to frost it at home, that shouldn’t be a problem. Pre-cut the strawberries, but don’t add them until the very last minute before serving either way, though, because they start to release their juices as soon as they are cut and placed and everything gets a little wet.
- The strawberries are super festive, but also kind of a pain. Once they’re cut, they start releasing their juices… all over the cake. So keep this in mind and plan accordingly. That means in addition to waiting to add them until just before serving, you should also remove them before you store leftovers, or risk coming back to a runny, wet frosting situation, which is not very appetizing!
I think that’s everything you’ll need to know. Now grab a fork and dig in!
- 3 cups blanched almond flour (sifted to remove lumps)
- 1.5 cups coconut sugar (sifted to remove lumps)
- 3/4 cup tapioca flour (sifted to remove lumps)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 9 Tablespoons organic canola oil (9 Tablespoons is 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon; see note for substitution information)
- 6 Tablespoons milk of choice
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Blueberries and raspberries (for flag design)
- Or sprinkles or your favorite decorations (for other occasions)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 7"x11" baking pan and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut sugar, tapioca flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In another large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then stir in the milk, vanilla, and vinegar.
Pour the egg mixture into the flours, etc, mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and gently shake to level.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is domed and slightly crisp. The edges will be deep golden brown and a tester should come out clean, with only a few crumbs.
Cool completely before applying a layer of frosting and your berries (to make a flag) or other decorations.
- You can replace the canola oil with grapeseed oil.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days (remove the berries from the top before storing). You can store the cake, unfrosted and wrapped tightly in multiple layers of plastic, in the freezer for up to three months.
- To make this in advance, make and cool the cake, then wrap tightly in several layers of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Frost and decorate immediately before serving. If you're traveling with this cake to a party, it is ideal to frost and decorate the cake before it is served, but if you need to frost it at home, that shouldn't be a problem. Don't add the berries until the very last minute before serving either way, though, because they start to release their juices as soon as they are cut and placed and everything gets a little wet.
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Note: nutrition information calculated for cake only (no frosting or decoration), and using unsweetened almond milk.