Cake with a secret: Norwegian flag cake surprises and delights

Photo: Maria Stordahl Nelson Express your inner Norwegian with this secret flag cake.

Photo: Maria Stordahl Nelson
Express your inner Norwegian with this secret flag cake.

Maria Stordahl Nelson
Seattle, Wash.

For years I’ve been enamored with cakes that have a surprise inside. The kind of cakes that look innocuous on the outside but hide a beautiful and unique interior. It only seems fitting that my first effort at making such a cake would be a flag cake for Syttende Mai. While a little more complicated to replicate than some other flag cakes, this one is definitely worth the time and effort it takes to make. It’s an impressive cake, worthy of the day.

Here’s how you do it:
Make two 9” x 3” cakes, using your favorite red velvet cake recipe. One cake will need to be the traditional red velvet of course, and the other needs to be blue velvet. Make sure your cake recipe has no more than a few tablespoons of cocoa powder and use 1 oz. Royal Blue Wilton gel color for the blue velvet cake. This food color will give the cake a beautiful navy blue hue. It helps to use a cake pan with a removable bottom. Springform or cheesecake pans work best.

You will also need 4 cups of your favorite cream cheese icing.

Some additional supplies:
• Offset spatula
• Piping bag with a ¼” piping tip
• Circle cutters in 10, 9, 7, and 6 cm diameters

Cut the red cake in half horizontally and set aside. Remove the rounded top from the blue cake and discard or save for another use. Cut the remaining blue cake into two horizontal, equal portions.

Using your 10cm cutter, cut a hole in the center of each red cake slice. Remove the small circles from each half and cut an additional smaller circle inside of it with the 6cm cutter. Discard the thin cake ring you just created and keep the small circle. Place the red bottom large cake round on a platter and place the small circle in the center of it. Set the top round and circle aside for later.

Use the 9cm cutter to cut two circles (side by side) from one of the blue cakes. Use the 7cm cutter to make circles inside the 9cm circle cakes. In this case you will discard the centers but keep the thin blue rings. Place one of these blue rings in between the small and large red circles on the cake plate.

Use your piping bag and icing tip to gently fill in with frosting between the red and blue layers. Avoid icing the top of the blue circle. You want the icing to be in between the rings. Now use additional icing to ice the tops of the red portions of the cake.

If needed add some blue cake crumbs to make the blue circle flush with the top of the icing over the red cake. Now lay the second horizontal half of the blue cake over the top. Place the second blue cake ring on top of it. Use your piping bag to ice the bottom of the center ring and all around the outside of the ring on the larger blue portion of the cake. Place the second, small red circle inside the blue ring, and the larger red ring around the outside of the blue ring.

Once more use your piping bag to fill the spaces between the rings with icing. Now cover the entire cake with the remaining cream cheese icing, smoothing with the offset spatula, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8-10.

Photo: Maria Stordahl Nelson

Photo: Maria Stordahl Nelson

Red (and blue) Velvet Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 eggs
1 1/2 tbsps. cocoa
1 1/2 oz. red food coloring for a red velvet (and 1 oz. Wilton Royal Blue gel food color for the blue velvet)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. white vinegar

Butter and flour a 9×3” springform pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and continue to mix until combined.

In a small bowl combine the cocoa with the food coloring. Add to the egg and butter mixture and stir to combine.

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside in a medium bowl.

Mix together the buttermilk and vanilla and add 1/4 cup at a time to the dry mixture while the mixer is running on low. Add the flour alternatively.

Combine the soda and the vinegar in a small bowl and add to the mixture.

Stir well and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Cool 20 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on a rack.

Repeat process for the blue velvet cake

Cream Cheese Icing
2 lbs. cream cheese at room temp.
1 lb. butter, unsalted and at room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
6 cups confectioner’s sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then the confectioner’s sugar, and mix until thoroughly combined.

Maria Stordahl Nelson is a Seattle-area food writer, photographer, and recipe developer. She shares her love of all things sweet, savory, and sometimes Nordic at

This article originally appeared in the June 17, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.