What kind of celebration would this be without a cake? This one is spectacularly patriotic on the outside and unbelievably easy on the inside. Use the icing recipe below or just slather the cake with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla
3 tbsp multi-colour sprinkles
1 quart strawberries
Have your young assistant measure the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and stir together until evenly mixed. Individual measuring cups (1 cup, ½ cup. ¼ cup, etc.), rather than a single graduated cup, will make it easier to measure dry ingredients.
Measure in the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined, then increase to high speed and continue beating for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Have your assistant add the coloured sprinkles - yippee! - mixing until they're evenly distributed in the batter.
Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 in. (22 x 33 cm) baking pan which has been lined with waxed paper. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from pan, peel off the waxed paper and let cool completely (and I mean completely) on a rack before icing (recipe below) and decorating.
Icing: Measure the sugar, milk and cornstarch into a small saucepan. Whisk together, then cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until it begins to boil and thicken. Stir in the vanilla and let cool.
Beat the margarine with an electric mixer in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the cooled milk goop to the margarine, a spoonful at a time, beating until smooth before adding more. It's important to take your time with this: If you rush the process, the icing will separate and become watery. Keep beating the icing on high speed for about 5 minutes. After everything is combined, the icing should be fluffy and smooth.
To complete the fabulous flag effect, first spread the white icing (or whipped cream) smoothly over the top and sides of the cake. Now, using a toothpick, draw guidelines for a maple leaf and the side bars into the icing. Consult a book (or your child) if necessary. Arrange strawberries, cut in half, to cover the marked sections forming the flag design.