Looking for a festive, show-stopping dessert for the Fourth?  Look no further.  The concept of this cake has been developing in my mind for a long, long time.  At first it was just a vague idea – some kind of patriotic ice cream cake.  Then it was going to be a very simple ice cream cake with red, white and blue frosting detailing on the outside.   Along the way, it transformed into what you see here: two layers of vanilla bean cake sandwiching a thick layer of vanilla bean ice cream with fresh strawberry and blueberry sauces mixed in.  The whole thing is frosted in freshly whipped cream, and garnished with additional fresh berries.  Because this came together so haphazardly in my head, I was completely unsure of how well it would turn out.  I’m happy to say it was a complete success.  It is so, so much better than I could have imagined.  This is a great example of the the expression, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  This cake takes the classic pairing of berries and cream and elevates it to a whole new level.

I realize that this cake may seem involved because of the multiple components but I assure you, it is actually quite simple and you can streamline your work to be more efficient.  While the cake layers are baking you can make the blueberry and strawberry sauces.  Once the cake is assembled, pop it into the freezer so it sets completely.  As far as the timing of the frosting goes, you have options.  You can frost and garnish the cake just before serving, you can frost the cake, freeze and garnish just before serving, or you can frost, garnish, and freeze all at once and serve whenever you like.  Just keep in mind that if you garnish and then freeze, the berries on top will be frozen when served and have a kind of frosty sheen on them.  I think they look neat that way but for the look seen in these pictures, you’ll want to add the berries just before serving.  Whatever way you choose to serve it, I do hope you try it!  This is bound to be a hit with kids and adults alike.  Have a wonderful Independence Day (and long weekend!)


For the cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
11 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the blueberry sauce:
1 cup blueberries
3 tbsp. sugar
1¼ tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. cold water
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the strawberry sauce:
4 oz. strawberries, hulled, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1½ tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2½ cups vanilla bean ice cream, slightly softened (homemade or store-bought)

For the whipped cream frosting:
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries and blueberries, for garnish


  • 01

    To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.  Grease and flour the sides of the pan, shaking out the excess.

  • 02

    In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and discard the pod (or reserve for another use.)  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.

  • 03

    Add the sugar to the butter mixture, about ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

  • 04

    Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.  Let cool in the pans about 10 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edge of the cake and turn the layers out onto a wire rack.  Remove the parchment paper and allow to cool completely.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill the cake layers until you are ready to assemble the cake.

  • 05

    To make the blueberry sauce, combine the blueberries and sugar in a nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to release their juices.  In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with the water and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.  Stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberry mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more.  Remove from the heat.  Cover and chill.

  • 06

    To make the strawberry sauce, combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl.  Toss well to combine.  Mash the berries slightly with the tines of a fork.  Stir in the lemon juice, cover and chill.  Let the berries macerate at least one hour and if needed, mash once more to achieve your desired texture.

  • 07

    To assemble the cake, level the cake layers if necessary.  Place one of the chilled cake rounds in the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan.  Place a piece of parchment or wax paper around the circumference of the cake to act as a tight collar for the ice cream layer.*  Be sure the ice cream is soft enough to spread smoothly and easily before proceeding.  Spread the vanilla ice cream in an even layer over the bottom cake layer.

  • 08

    Spoon the blueberry and strawberry fillings on top of the ice cream in whatever pattern you prefer.  (You may have a bit of each type of filling left over.  I dare you to not eat it with a spoon!)  Place the remaining cake layer on top of the ice cream and fruit filling.  Ensure that the parchment collar is pulled tight around the cake and ice cream to keep the layers evenly in place.  Close the sides of the springform around the assembled cake and transfer to the freezer to set.  (Covering the cake at this point is not really necessary but if you plan to wait a long time before finishing the cake, I recommend covering it.)

  • 09

    When you are ready to frost the cake, place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed, gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar, until stiff peaks form.  (Be careful not to overbeat!)  Blend in the vanilla.  Remove the sides of the springform pan carefully and peel away the parchment collar.  Frost the top and side of the cake with an offset or straight spatula.  Place the remaining whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and add additional accents as desired. (I used an unlabeled large fine star tip, similar to an Ateco #864 tip.)  Garnish with fresh strawberries and blueberries.  (The cake can be served at this point if desired.)

  • 10

    Store the cake covered in the freezer until ready to serve.  Set the cake out and let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes before slicing.  Run a long, thin knife until hot water to warm the blade.  Wipe the blade completely dry and slice the cake, wiping the blade clean between slices and rewarming as needed.

  • 11

    *The parchment collar is not a necessity but I prefer it for cleaner edges of the ice cream layer.  It also helps in the situation that your cake rounds are not exactly the same size as your springform pan, and if your entire cake is taller than your springform (it likely will be).


  • What a gorgeous ice cream cake! It looks insanely delicious, too!

  • Julie

    I have 2 words, Oh Yum! It is gorgeous!

  • JoAnn

    Can’t wait to make this. Looks delicious. My daughter requested your Pina Colda cake for her birthday this week.

  • I never want to eat your desserts because they are so beautiful. I just want to stare at them! Although the ice cream is too tempting so I’d probably give in and eat it anyway!

  • It turned out beautiful! One way you could frost the cake ahead of time is by making a stabilized whipped cream. I recently found out about the beauty of this technique and will be using it on a tart this weekend. Baked Bree has great instructions for it that worked perfectly for me. http://bakedbree.com/whipped-cream#axzz1Qr4aGCh3. Thanks for another fantastic idea Annie!

  • Annie

    This actually is a very stable whipped cream. I make it frequently and frost in advance as I did with this cake. I was more discussing the timing if the cake as far as whether one would want the texture to be semifrozen or not, and whether you want frozen berries or not.

  • This is beautiful! After seeing the picture you posted on facebook, I was curious as to what was on the inside! I love the “surprise” of the berries on the inside – and the ice cream!

  • this is a stunning dessert. i am finally making a flag cake for the first time ever, but i’m just doing the regular sheet cake…maybe i’ll tackle this one next year. i wondered if i added the berries today, if they would bleed on the frosting, but it seems like you did this without a problem. thanks for sharing this with us annie!

  • Absolutely Beautiful!!

  • Annie

    I don’t think you’ll have a problem with bleeding. If you use raspberries, you’re definitely fine. When I use sliced strawberries I usually blot them with a paper towel on both sides before placing them on the cake to remove excess moisture and bleeding. It seems to help. Have fun!

  • This is by far the most creative/colorful/appealing 4th of July cake I’ve run into in the blogsphere…LOVE it! I’m a little intimidated by all the directions…but it sounds like it might be worth it!

  • This cake is absolutely beautiful!

  • This is so beautiful! I finally got my long-awaited ice cream maker yesterday, so I can finally make homemade ice cream! An ice cream cake (or partially ice-cream cake) may be just the thing to inaugurate it!

  • This looks so delicious! What a perfect cake for the holiday. I think I might even change up the fillings a little and make it multiple times this summer.

  • Alice

    Annie, you are a genius!

  • What a beautiful cake- I am so jealous of anyone who gets to eat your goodies all the time! :)

  • Wow, doesn’t that look delicious!! So beautiful, and yet so appealing too!!

  • This is so pretty, Annie! You’re a genius!

  • Jordan

    Annie – This looks AMAZING! I’ve been reading your blog and just realized you are a resident @ IUSOM. I’m also a grad of IUSOM and currently doing a pediatric anesthesia fellowship in Boston. You must have excellent time management skills to be a wife, mother, physician, and extraordinary cook and baker! Please keep these lovely recipes coming!

  • Oh my this cake looks amazing! I wish I had a nice, big slice right now to help cool down on this hot day!

  • I LOVE this recipe and can’t wait to try it. But, my biggest hangup is the decorating part. I’m terrible. How did you get started when you were learning to decorate…or did it just come naturally to you?

  • This cake looks so incredible I wish I could reach right through the computer screen and have a slice! Sounds so yummy. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  • Alice C.

    Oh my gosh that looks amazing! I’m pretty sure it is essential that I make that this weekend.

  • This is gorgeous Annie! Amazing.

  • Oh my gosh!! This is totally gorgeous, Annie! I haven’t really been craving desserts lately but I HAVE to have this NOW (see, I’m talking in caps, it must be serious!)! :) Happy 4th!

  • Wow these pictures are really great!! I would love to try this. I think swirling the softened ice cream with the berry compotes before putting it on the cake might make it even more pretty. Beautiful though and I love the concept!

  • Stunning! Happy Independence Day to you and your family….RaeDi

  • Annie

    I don’t have any special tips, I mainly just used a pastry bag and that made a huge difference. If you check out the blog Zoe Bakes she has a fabulous series of video tutorials with the basic skills. The rest is just practice, practice, practice! Good luck!

  • Annie

    I thought of that too, but I was worried it would get too muddied looking. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!

  • Wow, this is absolutely beautiful!

    With ice cream cakes, do you find that sometimes, the cake seems a little too stiff to eat?

  • I did not expect this to still have a cake side, but it does! I love the combo. Cake and icecream with the fresh taste of the berries! Kind of like a trifle as a cake! Love!

  • You have outdone yourself on this one, Annie. Bet it’s worth the trouble. Have a wonderful Fourth!

  • wowwwww, this looks absolutely perfect! I dont know how you manage it! i can only imagine how fabulous it must taste, with such fresh beautiful ingredients, what a lovely summery cake :)

  • So pretty and I love the blueberry and strawberry sauce you added in the center – such a great idea!

  • Annie

    I was worried about the cake being dense or stiff but at least with this recipe, it really wasn’t. The cake part was still delicious. It probably varies just depending on what cake recipe you use but this one apparently freezes very well!

  • this looks soooooo delicious! :) I can’t believe how gorgeous your cakes are!

  • Lovely, Annie. Thank you for taking the time to share your beautiful creation with us!

  • This cake couldn’t be more beautiful. Happy 4th of July!

  • This is for sure going on the menu for next year’s 4th! Absolutely beautiful, and I imagine just as delicious!

  • Jordan

    We made a deconstructed version of this yesterdays in mason jars- absolutely delish! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • how gorgeous! i showed my husband and he asked what bakery this was from. now i have to make it. :)

  • OMG this looks incredible! Great cake! Hope you are having a great 4th ;)

  • Every time I visit your blog the header puts a smile on my face, it’s so adorable and quite fitting too. I’m loving all the 4th of July themed desserts and foods. This looks scrumptious.

  • kk

    What an incredible ice cream cake!! Very festive too! =)

  • annie this looks delicious. cake, berries and ice cream are my favorite desserts so putting them all together is absolutely genius. i cant wait until i have time to try this one out. :)

  • maria

    Hi, Annie wow you are amazing! I have two little ones as well and can’t imagine how you get all this done…truly amazing! I did make this cake and it turned out beautiful! I was a little worried about the whipped cream but it worked so well, the only question I had was that the strawberry sauce was too frozen and resembled a frozen popsicle when slicing and eating the cake…I don’t know what I did wrong?! any suggestions?

  • Annie

    I don’t think you did anything wrong. Frozen berries are well, frozen! To make them softer you can mix in some vodka but berries have a lot of water (especially strawberries), so when you freeze them they freeze hard.

  • goldie

    This recipe is truly outstanding, it was better then i could have imagined. It looked beautiful and tasted out of this world. i didn’t have as much blueberry or strawberry sauce as i thought i would, i would consider doing one and a half times the recipe next time. Definite repeat recipe!Thank you Annie!

  • Your desserts are all breath-taking, and that is intended as a sincere compliment. I’m glad you are a perfectionist when it comes to presentation :) but I imagine that they taste as good as they look. When you open your bakery, I’ll make a special trip from Oklahoma to Indiana. In the meantime, I’ll content myself with photos.

  • Annie

    You are so sweet! Thank you very much for the compliment :)

  • Ashlee

    I made this for the 4th and it was a huge success! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! As an Indiana Native also your recipes make me feel a little closer to home!

  • Bella

    I want to make this for my mum for her birthday, so i test made it today and the blueberrys and the strawberrys just mushed together and sunk into the ice-cream? and how did you make the frosting so smoothe ?

  • annieseats

    Your ice cream should be firmer to prevent the berries from sinking. Smooth frosting comes with practice. It might help to look up frosting tutorials online.

  • Emma

    I made this ice cream cake for my birthday last weekend (my first try at ice cream cake), and it was amazing! I don’t have an ice cream maker (yet), so I just used store-bought vanilla ice cream that I softened on the counter until it felt spreadable. I thought this recipe yielded the perfect amount of strawberry and blueberry sauce, and I loved the texture of the sauces when frozen. And the cake layers were *awesome* — the frozen cake tasted just as good several days later. And like you said, this cake is definitely best (in terms of both flavor and ease of cutting) when allowed to stand at room temperature before cutting it.

  • I used this cake to make the top tier of a shower cake I made. It is now my favourite vanilla/yellow cake option ever. I have bits and pieces left over from levelling and sizing the layers and I snack on them every time I walk by my fridge. Yum.

  • Elisabeth Kaizer

    Just made this cake this weekend…and it was seriously amazing! Since it was for a birthday and they said they didn’t like ice cream cakes (! Who doesn’t like ice cream cakes!!!) I made it with just the syrups and with your cream cheese icing recipe. It turned out so well…even my husband of five years whom I have never seen eat cake had a slice and ate it all and said it was good! Thanks so much for a wonderful yummy recipe!

  • Tiffani

    I have had plans to make this cake this weekend for like two years. But now that I’m looking at the recipe, I see that it calls for a vanilla bean. I live in the middle of nowhere, so there is no way I could find a vanilla bean nearby, and I’ve waited too late to order one. Is there some substitute or a way to get around using it?

  • annieseats

    Just use vanilla extract. Enjoy!

  • Micmoore5

    I made this cake last year and it was such a hit my guests requested it again this year. My cake is baking now. Thanks Annie!

  • Faith

    I’d like to make this cake without the ice cream. Is there a covering I should add to cake before adding the fruit filling. I mean will the fillings seep/ooze through?

  • annieseats

    They should be fine.

  • Brenda

    Do you think it will be ok if I use a 9 inch pan?

  • annieseats

    Sure, the cake will just not have quite as much height.

  • denise

    I don’t have an electric mixer (with a whisk attatchment)– is there something else I can use to make the frosting? thanks– this cake looks amazing and I would love to make it for the 4th!

  • annieseats

    You can use a hand mixer. Please see the FAQ page for more info. Enjoy!

  • Kat

    This is probably my very favourite vanilla cake recipe. I used it to make the cake my very first wedding cake this past weekend and everyone loved it! Now I should probably make the ice cream version above. I have a feeling it would go over just as well!

  • monica

    Thanks so much for sharing!! I did the cake today…I wanted to know how long does it need to thaw before serving??

  • annieseats

    There is no set time – just long enough that you can slice without issue but not so long that it melts. Maybe 10-15 minutes?