Some people spend $4,000 for one of Tom Douglas’s cakes. Baking them at home is much, much cheaper.
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“I have six sisters and a brother, and on our birthdays, we’d go to a little bakery called Bing’s, in Delaware, to pick out a cake,” recalls chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas. Each of his siblings always wanted something different, which taught him just how particular people can be when it comes to layer cake. Now, at Seattle’s Dahlia Bakery, Douglas satisfies all tastes with an ingenious mix-and-match menu of cakes, frostings and fillings. At charity auctions, a cake might sell for $4,000, with the money going to one of the many causes he has supported in more than two decades of philanthropy. Says Douglas, “We raise well over $100,000 a year in donations to charities like Food Lifeline,” a Washington state hunger-relief organization. To learn what makes his cakes so coveted, try these recipes. Choose the double-chocolate or brown-butter cake, then use simple master recipes for buttercream frosting and chocolate mousse filling, picking one of three flavor variations for each. You can’t go wrong—every combination works.