Last year, I brought a flag cake to a 4th of July rooftop barbecue. Earlier in the week, I’d harbored fantasies about making an elaborate ice cream cake or layered berry yogurt popsicles or salads teetering on the edge of food safety standards but New York City, as it always seems to be in the first week of July, was at the crest of a week-plus of ever-increasing temperatures and stickiness, a summit where it tends to linger for a few even more airless days before finally releasing the thunder and lightening, sinking the mercury back to a brief day or two of something resembling temperate before it starts the climb again. What, me? No fan of NYC summers? Where would you get such an idea?
(This is also the time of year, every year, where I break my please-don’t-be-so-dull-as-to-complain-about-the-weather-Deb rule. Forgive me) Anyway, the heat got the better of my ambitions and I decided to make a simple yellow sheet cake with cream cheese frosting and an arrangement of patriotic berries that had, in fact, been imported from Baja. To me, it was good, cute even, but nothing crazy, just something I’d seen kicked around magazines and TV shows for two decades, hardly a revolutionary idea. My friends, however — many of whom use their ovens for sweater storage and gasp! do not spend their days ingesting various formats of food media — went absolutely ballistic over it. When strangers from other parties on the roof started taking some, they became possessive of their cake and shooed them away. The told me in no uncertain terms would I ever be welcome at a July 4th party again without it.