39 Essential (and Delicious) Cake Recipes to Master Now

Coca Cola Bundt Cake with Amarena Cherries
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

There's something so special about baking cake recipes from scratch. (There's a reason a few of our most popular recipes of all time are cakes, after all.) No matter your taste preferences, there's a cake meant for everyone, from Chocolate Party Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Homemade Sprinkles to Vegan Peach-Almond Upside-Down Cake. Sinking your fork into a classic Coconut Cake or a rich Zebra Icebox Cake is a truly wonderful way to share dessert, celebrate an occasion, or simply have a solo moment of delight. These cakes go from classic essentials (think carrot cake and strawberry shortcake) to over-the-top recipes we'd make again and again. Grab your cake pans and your ingredients and discover your new favorite cake recipes from Food & Wine.

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Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

Every baker needs a go-to bundt cake recipe. This is the ultimate buttermilk bundt cake, nicely browned on the outside, with a soft, tender crumb.

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Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
Tina Rupp

A classic carrot cake is a crowd-pleaser and can work in traditional layers, in a loaf pan, or even as cupcakes. Pastry chef Jodi Elliot prepares the ultimate version of the 1970s favorite: moist and not too sweet.

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Jacques Pépin's Favorite Pound Cake

Jacques Pépin's Favorite Pound Cake
© Edward Pond

The French call pound cake quatre-quarts ("four-fourths") because it is made with equal parts flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Jacques Pépin's mother, aunt, and cousin all have their versions. He likes to fold in candied citrus peels to make a French fruit cake; he also loves plain slices dipped in espresso.

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German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake
© Amy Neunsinger

Sam German created the mild, dark baking chocolate called Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate in 1852; in the late 1950s, a Dallas newspaper published a recipe for German's Chocolate Cake. The dessert took the South by storm and has been a staple ever since. Actress Ali Larter's super-indulgent version features layers of light chocolate cake and a sweet coconut-pecan frosting.

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Crunchy Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Crunchy Milk Chocolate—Peanut Butter Layer Cake
© Tina Rupp

The genius of this layer cake is its extraordinarily crunchy filling, made with almonds, salted peanuts, creamy peanut butter, chocolate, and Rice Krispies. The silky milk-chocolate ganache frosting is the finishing touch.

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Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze

Many bundt cakes are dense and buttery, but this one is surprisingly light and incredibly moist under its silky chocolate glaze. Strong-brewed coffee in the batter intensifies the chocolate flavor while balancing the sweetness.

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Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake
© Alexandra Grablewski. Cake Keeper Cakes

Lauren Chattman makes this pound cake especially rich by swirling in the chocolate-hazelnut spread Nutella. She recommends serving the cake with coffee ice cream.

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Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake

Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake
Fredrika Stjärne

This cake is as good as a holiday dessert as it is for Sunday brunch. As it bakes, it develops a sweet, rich sauce at the bottom of the dish.

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Breton Butter Cake

Breton Butter Cake
© Greg DuPree

Known as kouign amann, this classic cake from Brittany is made with bread dough and butter and has a caramelized-sugar top. This easy version, prepared with store-bought bread dough or pizza dough, has been adapted from Home Baking.

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Brown Sugar Cake with Ricotta and Blueberries

Brown Sugar Cake with Ricotta and Blueberries
Jennifer Causey

This chewy, dense confection is like a cross between a cake and a blondie. It's delicious both by itself and dressed up with Ricotta Mousse and Blueberry Sauce.

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Molten Chocolate Cakes

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Just about every restaurant in the U.S. offers a version of this creation from Jean-Georges Vongerichten. But his supremely rich and chocolaty original is in a class by itself. It might seem complex, but this recipe is actually quite easy to make and ready in under an hour.

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Coconut Chiffon Bundt Cake with Coconut Frosting

Coconut Chiffon Bundt Cake with Coconut Frosting

Joanne Chang is a master of all kinds of desserts, from elegant French to homespun American like this classic coconut cake.

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Plum Upside-Down Cake

Plum Upside-Down Cake
© Nicole Franzen

This pretty cake is moist and buttery, with plenty of sweet and tangy caramelized plums on top. It's great for a festive dessert or weekend treat.

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Triple-Cheese Cheesecake with Amaretti Crust

Triple-Cheese Cheesecake with Amaretti Crust
Johnny Miller

This killer cheesecake has a light, creamy texture and fantastic crunchy crust made from honey graham crackers and amaretti cookies. Bonus: It's a no-bake recipe.

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Maria Cookie Icebox Cake

Maria Cookies Icebox Cake
Farrah Skeiky

Toasty, slightly sweet Maria cookies were an after-school snack staple for pastry chef Paola Velez while growing up in the Bronx. Here, she transforms those beloved cookies into an icebox cake, layered with a sweetly spiced cream filling, topped with luscious dulce de leche, and festooned with strawberries and flowers.

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Carrot and Orange Cake with Sour Cream Glaze

Carrot Cake Recipe
Antonis Achilleos

This carrot cake from Nik Sharma is something special. "Chopped pieces of dried apricots and candied orange peels give each slice of cake a spot of unexpected fruit sweetness, while the pistachios add texture to the soft cake," he says. "Serve it with a cup of warm tea or coffee to complete the experience."

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Strawberry-Honey Cake with Sour Whipped Cream

Strawberry-Honey Cake with Sour Whipped Cream
© Eva Kolenko

This floral, honey-inflected strawberry cake from Eli Dahlin is his springy take on a sticky toffee pudding. The more holes you poke in the cake, the more the honey syrup will penetrate every last bite.

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Mom's Chocolate Cake

Mom’s Chocolate Cake
© Greg DuPree

This chocolate cake is on our list of the 40 Best Ever F&W Recipes and for good reason. The semisweet, creamy frosting hits just the right balance, but longtime F&W Test Kitchen Supervisor Marcia Kiesel said, "the original was served right out of the pan, no frosting at all, and that's my favorite way to eat it."

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Chocolate Blackout Cake

Best Chocolate Desserts: Chocolate Blackout Cake

This one is for chocolate lovers. Pastry star Gale Gand layers her phenomenal, high-rising cake with an intensely chocolaty custard and coats it with cake crumbs.

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Best-Ever Birthday Cake

best-ever birthday cake
Greg Dupree

Celebrate your birthday any day with a big slice of this super-fun sprinkle cake. Sour cream adds a perfect tangy balance to the easy chocolate frosting — and gives this kid-at-heart cake a delicious grown-up twist. The key to a tender crumb is to cream the sugar and butter longer than you think — at least five minutes — to incorporate plenty of air into the batter. We love a mixture of sprinkles to top the cake for an extra-festive look.

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Red Velvet Cake

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This towering cake is made with deep red cake layers and lots of cream cheese frosting. Unsweetened cocoa powder and red food coloring give the cake its signature hue.

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Double Chocolate Layer Cake

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake
Quentin Bacon

"This is the most fabulous chocolate cake that I've ever made," Ina Garten declared when F&W ran her recipe in 2007. The buttermilk keeps the cake moist and light, and the bit of coffee in the cake and frosting keeps the sweetness in check.

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Vanilla-Scented Cornmeal Cake with Olive Oil Buttercream

Cornmeal Cake with Olive Oil Buttercream
Sam Aguirre-Kelly

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.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
© Tina Rupp

Pastry chef Kristin Ferguson prepares this deliciously fruity pineapple upside-down cake in individual ring molds. She pairs the mini cakes with homemade buttermilk ice cream.

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Strawberry Shortcake for a Crowd

Strawberry Shortcake
Jen Causey

"It doesn't get much easier than strawberry shortcake, but this family-style version I created definitely makes it foolproof," food writer Ben Mims says. "Instead of punching out all those small cakes, the dough is pressed into a pan and baked as one giant cake, which is much quicker and less stress-inducing, especially when you want an effortless dessert for a weeknight that truly takes no time at all."

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Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake
© Karen Mordechai

This dainty dessert was in vogue in the 1920s for ladies' gatherings. Traditionally made with marshmallow frosting, the cake was famously served to President Truman during a trip to Florida in the 1950s.

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King Cake with Caramel Crunch

Mardi Gras King Cake
Oriana Koren

"A traditional part of Mardi Gras for the last 300 years in New Orleans (and beyond), these cakes are more like brioche than 'cake' as we know it," pastry chef and cookbook author Kelly Fields says. "The yeast-raised dough is braided, sometimes around various fillings, formed into a ring, and baked. Afterwards, it's topped with green, purple, and gold sugar to represent faith, justice, and power, respectively, a nod to the 'three kings.' A token of some sort, be it a bean or plastic baby, is stuffed randomly inside, and tradition states that whoever gets the slice of king cake with the token has to host the next party!"

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Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
Antonis Achilleos

"The fruity banana batter is bolstered by browned butter for caramel-like richness that's echoed by the butterscotch notes of brown sugar," Food & Wine Cooks contributor Ann Taylor Pittman says. "Chocolate chips make an appearance, too, and even though their role is small, it's impactful — especially if you frost and cut the cake before it's completely cool and the chocolate is still a little gooey."

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Vegan Peach-Almond Upside-Down Cake

Peach Almond Upside Down Cake
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Heather Claire Spollen

Juicy peaches and nutty almond meal pair up in this summery, vegan take on a classic upside-down cake. The almond meal adds a soft texture to the cake and helps it hold together as the peaches soften and sweeten during baking.

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Cocoa Cola Bundt Cake

Coca Cola Bundt Cake with Amarena Cherries
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

In her modern-day version of Coca-Cola cake, 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.

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Chocolate Party Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Homemade Sprinkles

recipe
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Ali Ramee

Rich, chocolaty, and so very festive, this cake 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.

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Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

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 and 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.

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Honey Cake (Honigkuchen)

Honey Cake Recipe
Victor Protasio

Inspired by German cake recipes from a 13th-century cookbook, chef Alex Hrabovsky and his wife, Reana, developed this gluten-free version using almond and gluten-free flours. With its malty, molasses notes, buckwheat honey gives this cake its signature flavor.

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Lemon Chiffon Cake with Blueberry-Coriander Buttercream

Lemon chiffon cake with blueberry coriander buttercream
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

Pastry chef Sasha Piligian channels summer vibes to create her show-stopping baked goods, like this epic layer cake. She starts with two flavor-packed components — a tart-sweet Meyer Lemon Curd for the filling, and a coriander-spiced blueberry jam to flavor and tint her fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. (The lemon curd and jam can be made ahead of time and stashed in the refrigerator, or you can substitute store-bought jam and lemon curd for equally beautiful results.) The addition of beaten egg whites to the batter keeps the lemon chiffon cake layers light and airy. For a final flourish, Piligian embellishes the frosted cake with edible flower petals, mint leaves, pools of glistening jam, fresh berries, and sliced citrus.

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Cannabis-Infused Olive Oil Citrus Cake

Cannabis-Infused Olive Oil Citrus Cake
Kitchen Toke Inc.

A touch of semolina flour gives this citrus- and cannabis-infused dessert a texture similar to a cornmeal cake, while a vibrant citrus glaze and fresh fruit add layers of tart sweetness. Enjoy for dessert as-is, or with a dollop of crème fraiche or mascarpone. Note: As cannabis regulation continues to evolve across the United States and around the world, please consult your local laws.

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Strawberry Icebox Cake with Maple-Ginger Cream

Strawberry Icebox Cake
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

If you love strawberry shortcake, this inspired icebox dessert is for you. Buttery, rich shortbread cookies make an easy base for the cake, layered with plenty of sliced strawberries and a creamy filling with hints of spicy fresh ginger and sweet maple syrup. A topping of strawberries macerated in maple syrup adds a final burst of berry flavor.

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Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Layers of delicate flavors from lemon, honey, and extra-virgin olive oi­l — which helps keep the cake moist and imparts mild fruitiness — come together in this one-bowl batter. Stacked with a fluffy and rich lemon–cream cheese frosting, this easy layer cake is a keeper. Be sure the butter and cream cheese are softened for the smoothest frosting.

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Bûche de Noël with Mascarpone Cream and Dark Chocolate Ganache

Buche de Noel
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Kay Clarke

A few smart moves help this Bûche de Noël come together. Allowing the cake to cool while still rolled helps prevent cracking. Mascarpone stabilizes the whipped cream filling so that it can be chilled overnight without weeping. Butter and corn syrup in the ganache keep it smooth and glossy. And stirring slivered toasted almonds into the ganache frosting gives it a "tree bark" look and adds contrasting texture to the silky filling and tender cake. If you'd like to make Meringue Mushrooms to decorate the cake, feel free to bake them up to three days ahead.

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Double-Decker Meringue Cake with Summer Berries

Double Decker Meringue Cake with Summer Berries Recipe
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

The meringue topping expands as this stunning cake bakes, so be careful not to spread it all the way to the edges of the cake batter—this will make it easier to remove the cake from the pan. Top with whatever berries are in season at your market, or use your favorite sliced stone fruit.

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