German Flag Layer Cake

I spent two weeks in Germany just over a decade ago. (Let’s pause for a moment so I can get over how old that sentence made me feel.) I had been to Europe the year before with a group from my high school, which was kind of a blur—an awesome, fun-filled blur—due to the amount of standard sight-seeing we had to cram in after some travel delays (which involved a night spent in Newark airport, a missed connection in London, and a severely jet-lagged me browsing through duty free shops like a zombie). To this day, the best $2 I have ever spent was on a shower in the London-Heathrow airport. But traveling to Germany on my own to visit friends who lived there was a completely different, uninsulated experience that allowed me to take in much more of what was going on around me. Why is all of this water fizzy? What is this delicious chocolate spread you eat for breakfast? How can something called “grey bread” be so good? Why does this beer go down like water? To this day, it baffles me when someone gives a hefeweizen the “yick” face and says it tastes like bananas. Whatever, man, more banana beer for me.

Earlier this year, one of my friends from Germany came over for a visit. To celebrate, my friend Adam threw a party, and I made soft pretzels and this cake. I really want to be able to say that I came up with the idea for this cake on my own, but it was actually my boyfriend. As soon as he said, “how about a cake that looks like the German flag?” I thought, “oh my god, yellow, red velvet, and chocolate cake—how did I not think of that?!” Throughout the party, whenever people complimented me on the cake, I begrudgingly gave credit where credit was due. When I made it this time, I even managed to completely forget that it wasn’t my idea, until my boyfriend smugly sweetly asked if I would be giving him credit for it. Gah!

So here it is again, just in time for the end of Oktoberfest! I really wanted to get beer in the cake itself, but then I ended up making the whole process way too complex and just had to go back to basics. So this is just your standard yellow cake, red velvet cake, and chocolate cake, with chocolate frosting. I would instead suggest drinking beer while you make and eat the cake. It’s better that way anyhow. :)

German Flag Layer Cake

Note: Since dividing cake recipes into thirds is way too complicated and imprecise, I just cut the recipes for standard size cakes in half. You can either cut the layers down as you see fit, or just make a very big cake.

All three layers of this cake bake at 350°. Grease three 8-inch round baking pans and set aside. Instructions for each layer of cake are as follows.

Yellow Cake

(adapted from Allrecipes)

  • ½ cup of butter (1 stick), softened
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup of milk
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • yellow food coloring

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla. Alternate between adding the milk and the flour mixture until just combined.

Pour batter into your pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Red Velvet Cake

(adapted from Bakerella)

  • 1 ¼ cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup of oil
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 ½ tsp vinegar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • red food coloring

Lightly stir the egg, then whisk in the rest of the liquid ingredients (oil, milk, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring).

Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and mix until well-combined.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Cake

(adapted from Allrecipes)

  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • ½ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ⅓ cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup of butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 ⅛ cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract

Pour boiling water over cocoa powder and set aside to cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl, then mix in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Alternately add the cocoa and the flour mixtures until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake for around 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Frosting

(adapted from Allrecipes)

  • 6 cups of confectionery sugar
  • 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) of butter, softened
  • 10 tbsp evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together sugar and cocoa powder and set aside.

Cream butter in a large bowl, the alternately mix in the evaporated milk and the cocoa mixture, then add in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy.


After all of your layers have cooled, begin assembling your cake. Keep in mind that the bottom and middle layer will compress slightly from the weight of everything on top of them, so you might want to cut the chocolate layer down to be a little smaller. (For an in-depth demonstration on how to build a layer cake, see Whisk Kid’s posts on assembly and frosting. Or check out the Good Eats episode The Icing Man Commeth.)

Once you’ve got your cake all together, cut yourself a slice and pour yourself a big ol’ beer. Prost!


    • says

      Thank you, Jackie! Having yellow, red velvet, and chocolate in there really makes for quite a treat! I think I may be obsessed with combination cakes now. :)

  1. says

    As a German girl i’m very delighted to see a German flag on such an American cake.

    BTW: Hefeweizen itself doesn’t taste much like bananas, but there are people who put banana juice in to make a “Bananenweizen”. (Which is where, for me, the “yuck” faces comes in)

    Greetings from Bavaria


    p.s. and hefeweizen+coca cola= Colahefe :)

    • says

      Thank you, Ann (especially for clarifying about the beer)! Hefeweizens had never reminded me of bananas until people around here (Burlington, VT) started pointing it out. There are a number of restaurants in the area that also brew a variety of beers, and I’ve noticed a few of those hefeweizens have noted “with hints of banana” in their descriptions—so maybe that explains it! Though I think I’d rather let everyone up here continue thinking they all taste like bananas, so I don’t have to share. :)

  2. says

    Hello, Carey! It must have been a lovely welcoming for your friend, to be greeted by a cake in the colours of his national flag.

    I love to think of how in one bite you can taste three different textures from three cakes, not to mention the chocolate frosting! If I made this, I think I’d like to use a devil’s food cake recipe for the chocolate layer just because I’m greedy. I should probably think of making a Malaysian flag cake one day :)

    • says

      Hello, Sumaiyyah! It really is pretty awesome having three different cakes combined into one. :) Making this cake has also made me consider what it would be like to try something similar for more complex flags. A Malaysian flag cake would definitely be impressive!

  3. Candy says

    Fantastic recipe for the Football World Cup finals!! Turned out great!! Needed to keep all the cakes in for about 25-30 mins though not 20. And used a butter cream Nutella frosting instead.

  4. Wendy says

    Where can I find your receipe and instructions for the 3 layer german cake?? It’s adorable and I’d love to make it for our upcoming oktoberfest. Thank you!


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