‘MERICA FLAG CAKE + LIBBY AND WINSTON’S COOKIE BUSINESS

What better time to live the American dream and finally pursue your crazy ideas than Fourth of July weekend? If you were asked to name one baked good when you think of me, most of you would reply, ‘chocolate chunk cookies.’ It is my go-to recipe and my favorite cookie to make. I invented the recipe at IU when I experimented with two of my favorite recipes one night and voila: the Libby cookie was born.

I have made thousands of cookies over the years and have been lucky to receive encouragement from the many people that have enjoyed the cookies over the years. That said, it was finally time to put my baking passion into action. This weekend I unveiled a custom doodle created by the one and only Kim of Manayunk Calligraphy. The cookie subscription service will feature a dozen cookies shipped to your door once a month. You can cancel or opt out of a month at any time. Six of the cookies will always be chocolate chunk and the remaining six will be a speciality cookie. For July, the specialty cookie will be keylimes since it’s like a vacation in your mouth.

I have created an Excel spreadsheet of names and email addresses of the people that expressed interest. In a few days everyone that asked to be included will receive an email asking for their shipping address and whether they would like all chocolate chunks or the combination. If you live in Indy, you can also choose to pick up the cookies downtown. Payment will be through PayPal and once I receive payment, I’ll bake and send them out. I will most likely devote an entire weekend each month to baking, packing, and shipping.

I went ahead and ordered my supplies: boxes, cookie bags, boxing tape, tissue paper, and cookie tags from Amazon. I then did a cost per box analysis and it is about $5 a box (not including the cookies). I also bought a custom stamp from Etsy with my doodle for $50, but won’t include that in the cost. It was a fun way to brand this new endeavor.

After a lot of math that I did not want to do, I finally arrived at a price. Full disclosure, I asked a lot of friends, including entrepreneurs that have gone through the process of putting a price on their goods. Shipping and my time is the biggest factor. While I knew I would have a few friends that would be interested, I was not expecting 60 orders. That’s 720 cookies for July. So, I have settled on $15 a box and free shipping for the first month. I hope to have a flat rate shipping option figured out by next month and will then charge shipping, but the $15 will remain the same.

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There is a reason I was a political science and history major. Math is not my friend.

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West Wing marathon = my ideal way to celebrate America’s birthday!

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Now onto my annual flag cake! Every Fourth of July I make Ina Garten’s flag cake. It takes some planning, but the end result is worth the time! The cake is very dense and sometimes I add a little lemon zest. The cream cheese frosting is perfect to pipe the ‘stripes’ between the rows of strawberries and I never use raspberries because they are more likely to squish.

Kim had a ‘Merica party, so the cake was the perfect addition to our red, white, and blue spread of food. I also made glazed sugar cookies using my Indiana, flag, and U.S. Capitol cookie cutters. Our party favor was a custom hat with our favorite adjective. Make America…..again. I chose ‘sassy.’

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Ina Garten’s Flag Cake

Recipe via Food Network

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the icing:
4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To assemble:
1 pint of blueberries
2 cartons of strawberries

Heat the oven to 350 degrees

Butter and flour an 18 by 13 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan. I lined mine with parchment paper for easy removal.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature. I refrigerated the cake overnight and then made the cream cheese in the morning.

For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.

Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe.

Put the remaining icing in a gallon size Ziploc bag, cut a hole in the corner, and pipe two rows of white stripes below the strawberries. Alternate rows of strawberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

Serve the cake right in the pan and enjoy!

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