From luscious chocolate cakes to light angel food cakes and multi-tiered birthday cakes, it's a wide, delicious world of cake out there. Even if it's just a slab of simple, buttery pound cake enjoyed with a cup of coffee, there is something celebratory about eating a slice of cake. The flip side is that cakes tend to require more effort to bake than a tray of brownies or cookies, but that's no reason to worry. Our Food & Wine guide to cake includes tips from professional bakers (like starting with room temperature ingredients) to help you make an amazing dessert. We've also shared our best layer cakes, so you'll never wonder how to celebrate another birthday—plus bundt cakes, upside-down cakes, icebox cakes and more.

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Cocoa Cola Bundt Cake
Rating: Unrated 2
Traditional Coca-Cola cake, a staple of the American South, usually comes in the form of a chocolate sheet cake that's doused in a gooey glaze. The batter is splashed with a bit of cola, sometimes for flavor but mostly for fluff; the soda's carbonation acts as a leavening agent, similar to baking soda or baking powder, helping the cake rise and come out light and airy. In her modern-day version, cookbook author Vallery Lomas flips tradition on its head by making a cola-flavored cake with cola-flavored icing. The key to Lomas' Cocoa Cola Bundt Cake is in the Coca-Cola syrup. Lomas concentrates the cola by reducing it with sugar and adding a bit of lemon juice, and then she mixes the resulting syrup into both the cake and the icing. "You get a more concentrated taste by using the syrup instead of straight-from-the-can Coca-Cola," Lomas says. Plus, the warming spices Lomas adds into the cake, like cinnamon and nutmeg, along with a dash of both orange and lemon zest, deepen the cake's chocolaty, cola-y flavor. Lomas takes her new-age cake one step further by baking it in a Bundt pan instead of a sheet pan. "It's just as easy but much more centerpiece- worthy." Although this cake could be paired with a glass of ice-cold Coca-Cola, Lomas recommends balancing the cake's sweetness with something warm and a bit bitter, like your favorite coffee or tea.
Vanilla-Scented Cornmeal Cake with Olive Oil Buttercream
Pastry chef Bronwen Wyatt's rich, elegant cake is perfect for just about any celebration you may have coming your way. You can simply spread the buttercream frosting to cover it, swirling for a little flair, or follow Wyatt's decorating tips by using a pastry bag to form ruffles and squiggles with the buttercream. Top the cake with edible decorations of your choice, such as flowers, fruits, and herbs. If using flowers, make sure that they're safe to eat and not sprayed with pesticides. 
Chocolate and Fig Cake
Rating: Unrated 2
The large range of figs called for in this fig cake recipe leaves the decoration and texture of this dense and fudgy chocolate dessert up to you: 4 ounces of figs creates two small rings around the cake, while the full 12 ounces of fruit will cover the entire top with a jammy layer and require a few more minutes in the oven to fully bake.
Chocolate Party Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Homemade Sprinkles
Rich, chocolaty, and so very festive, this chocolate cake with ganache frosting is worthy of a party. Ganache has many applications in pastry, and here Chef Paola Velez uses it to make the silky-smooth frosting to top her chocolate cake. If you're making the sprinkles from scratch, remember to start one day ahead so they can dry overnight.
Mourning My Mother with Lemon Cake
Alexis McCowan's mother Yan wasn't the world's best baker, but she cooked with love and adventure.
Philly Fluff Cake
Rating: Unrated 1
A Philly Fluff Cake, despite the name, is dense, moist, and tender, with rich swirls of bittersweet chocolate and a well-browned, sugary crisp exterior. It is more similar to a pound cake than a fluffy cake, and a generous portion of cream cheese in the batter lends the cake a gentle tang, and perhaps offers a clue to half of its name. A mixture of canola oil and butter stand in for traditional shortening, still giving the cake a pleasant moisture while adding delicious buttery flavor.

More Cake

Baked Alaska
Baked Alaska, the meringue-topped and torched layered ice cream cake is a classic restaurant dessert, often served tableside with a fiery effect. Bring the sweet treat home with this simple step-by-step method that takes advantage of creamy (and customizable) store-bought ice creams and sorbets, a simple, buttery pound cake, and just enough time in the freezer between layers to ensure success. Less is more when it comes to swirling the ice creams and sorbets together; for the clearest marbled effect, be careful not to over-mix and blur the flavors.
Orange-Cardamom Butter Cakes with Rose Water Icing
Rating: Unrated 1
Perfect with afternoon tea, these delicate Sri Lankan cakes from cookbook author Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama are light with a buttery, moist crumb and a hint of citrusy cardamom. The sweet frosting gets flavor and a floral aroma from rose water and orange blossom water from Curio Spice; a drizzle of raspberry jam thinned with orange juice adds the perfect sweet-tart contrast. Claire Cheney, the founder of Curio Spice Co., is scrupulous about sourcing. Cheney finds the best-quality spices from small farms put care into every step of the process-growing their crops organically, paying their workers a living wage, and giving back to the community.
Moscato Pound Cake with Grape Glaze

A dream of reuniting with friends and loved ones in 2021 for a Juneteenth celebration inspired writer Nicole A. Taylor's recipe for Moscato Pound Cake with Grape Glaze. Moscato gives this cake a lighter, more tender crumb than a typical pound cake while also imparting a subtle sweetness. Freeze-dried grapes bring vibrant color to the glaze. If you like, you can substitute lime juice in place of Moscato in the glaze for a brighter pink color.