I love creaming butter and sugar, cracking the eggs on side of the mixer bowl.  I love the smell of vanilla rising in the kitchen.  I love licking the beaters.  I love sneaking peaks at the cake baking in the oven.  I love frosting the cake, making swirls on the top.  I love cutting the first slice.  And I love sharing cake with friends and family.  Consider me a cake evangelist.  If you aren't already a cake lover and a cake baker, I hope I can convert you with some of my favorite cake recipes. 

 

Important note about cake pans- these are almost all layer cakes, which requires at least 2 round cake pans.  Size is less important than having the cake pans match.  Some of the recipes refer to odd-size cake pans.  I've always been fine using regular 9" X 2" rounds.  However, there are a few recipes that require special bakeware such as a springform pan or soufflé cups. 

 

Show me the cakes!

 

5 star cakes

 

These are truly impressive cakes, and most take a fair amount of work, but it's a labour of love.

 

Old fashioned chocolate cake

How can you resist one of Martha's favorite cakes?  This is truly a cake people will talk about long after the party's over. 

 

Martha makes this as a 6-layer cake, but it is just as impressive as a 4-layer cake.  Skip the trip to William Sonoma for new 8" X 3" cake pans- use your regular old cake pans, then cut each cake in half.  The cake itself is not difficult to make, but note that it requires almost a dozen egg whites.  You might consider buying a container or two of egg whites to save yourself a lot of cracking (note that a large egg white measures around 2T).  If you do use regular eggs, be sure to separate each egg white into a small bowl, then transfer to a larger bowl.  That way, if you accidentally puncture the yolk, you'll only be wasting one egg, not a whole bunch. 

 

The companion to this cake recipe is Mrs. Milman's frosting.  Damn, this is good frosting!  Kind of ruins you for any other kind of frosting, actually.  But it's very time-consuming.  I'd say 2 hours is the bare minimum time for babysitting this frosting.  After doing the chill-stir routine for a while, you might want to stick the bowl of frosting in a slightly larger bowl with ice in the bottom.  This will thicken it up much faster, but you have to keep an eye on it and stir it more frequently to avoid it crusting up around the edges.

 

Word format version- includes cake and frosting recipes

 

recipes online at marthastewart.com: cake | frosting

 

 

1-2-3-4 lemon cake

This is a truly fabulous cake- wonderful tasting and elegant too.  It combines the zest and richness of lemon curd with a moist white cake.   Top with whipped cream, a light dusting of powdered sugar, and fresh summer berries.  Not a difficult cake, but somewhat time-consuming since you also have to make lemon curd.  Be sure to make the lemon curd before the cake because it needs to chill a minimum of one hour before you start assembling the cake. 

 

Word format version- includes cake, lemon curd, and whipped cream recipes

 

recipes online at marthastewart.com: cake | lemon curd | whipped cream

 

 

Flourless chocolate espresso cake with raspberry sauce

This cake is a silky delight, and the raspberry sauce goes well with it.  Pretty easy to make too, but be sure to make it the day before- this baby needs to chill overnight. 

Also, you need to bake this in a water bath like a souffle.  A huge roasting pan is best for this. Try folding a kitchen towel and laying it in the bottom of the pan; this will keep the cake pan from shifting around when you move the roasting pan in and out of the oven.

 

This recipe makes way too much batter.  Last time I made it, I ended up getting 2 9" X 2" cakes out of it.  But having extra of this cake is not exactly a hardship.

 

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recipe online at epicurious.com.  Epicurious.com is a great website run by Conde Nast, the folks that publish Gourmet and Bon Appetit.  It has a massive number of recipes from 10+ years of both magazines online.  Additionally, people post comments about how the recipe turned out for them, with suggestions for variations on the recipe.  It's my number one resource for online recipes. 

 

 

Lemon sponge custard

Yum, these are heavenly little desserts, half cake, half hot lemon curd, gobbled down in about a minute.  The accompanying raspberry sauce recipe is the best one I've tried, and it's very versatile, so you might want to keep it in mind for other desserts. 

 

I think this recipe is best made in individual ramekins rather than a souffle dish.  They also need baked in a water bath, and the towel trick mentioned above is even handier for ramekins.  If you don't have ramekins, you can use any small ovenproof containers.

These are beautifully served turned out onto a small plate or bowl and drizzled with raspberry sauce. 

 

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Carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting

This is another truly great cake, and the frosting, with its hint of orange and ginger, is inspired.  Skip the ridiculous candied carrot strips.  For an elegant touch, toast about 10-12 perfect pecan halves, allow them to cool, then arrange them on the top outer edge of the cake.  It helps to have a food processor for all the grating in this recipe- if you don't, try to draft a helper.

 

Word format version- includes cake and frosting recipes

 

recipes online at marthastewart.com:

cake | frosting 

 

 

Pumpkin cake with brown butter icing

It doesn't look like much, but this is a delicious alternative to a traditional spice cake or a pumpkin pie.  The frosting is sweet, but thin enough not to overwhelm.  I like this cake more every time I make it.  And it's easy to make- you don't even have to worry about burning the butter!

 

Word format recipe

 

recipes online at marthastewart.com: cake | frosting

 

 

Show me the cakes!

 

 

4 star cakes

 

These cakes didn't quite make it onto my Top 5 list, but they are still impressive and well-suited to dinner parties. 

 

Strawberry rhubarb courting cake

The only thing that keeps this cake from being a five star cake is that leftovers tend to get soggy.  But, it's an impressive cake all the same.  It's an old-fashioned kind of cake, with a strawberry rhubarb compote sandwiched between dense cake layers.  Excellent topped with whipped cream laced with a little vanilla and nutmeg. 

 

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recipe online at Epicurious.com

 

 

Lemon Chiffon cake

This is a light, wonderful cake that would be equally at home at a summer picnic or a dinner party.  Chiffon cakes are similar to angel cakes, but without the tang.

It requires a special tube cake pan, designed for angel food and chiffon cakes.  It is also best made with cake flour rather than general purpose flour.

 

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Maple Layer cake

This cake is a little too sweet for me and requires $20 worth of maple syrup, but it is a lovely cake.  Very pretty and with a buttercream frosting to die for.

 

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recipes online at marthastewart.com:

cake | frosting (sorry the frosting recipe's gone AWOL)

 

 

Winter cranberry and pear upside down cake

This cake is a nice twist on the traditional pineapple upside down cake.  One of Laura's favorites, it is very fragrant and pretty.  Requires a little extra time because of the fruit preparation.

 

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Brownie cupcakes

These cupcakes are strictly for professional chocoholics.  They call for the same Mrs. Milman's chocolate frosting as Martha's favorite cake (above), which is incredible but very time-consuming.  My suggestion: skip the frosting on the cupcakes; they'll still be great and no one will succumb to chocolate poisoning.

 

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recipes online at marthastewart.com: cake | frosting

 

 

Mint chocolate chip cake

Who doesn't love an ice cream cake?  I only loosely based my cake on the following recipe.  For one thing, I used a store bought cake mix and only 1 kind of mint ice cream- I know, pretty trashy, huh… Martha's probably rolling over in her jail cell right now.  The only difficult thing about this cake is dealing with the ice cream, which is invariably too hard or starting to melt.  Liberal use of both your hands and the microwave is recommended.  Very time consuming because you have to freeze one layer a while before adding on the next, but I think you can skimp a little on the between-layer freezings as long as you give it a final long freeze (and don't mind a bit of a mess).  I also didn't bother trimming my cake into a square- I left the round cake layers as is. 

 

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recipe online at marthastewart.com

 

 

Show me the cakes!

 

 

Comfort cakes

 

These are the kind of cakes you want after the end of a long day at work- the  cakey equivalent of a foot massage or a nice long soak in the tub.  Make them for yourself or company.

 

 

Warm chocolate raspberry pudding cake

This is one of my new favorite cakes.  It's a good last-minute kind of cake because it's served warm and you don't need to frost it.  The "pudding" is really a thick sauce of bittersweet chocolate, raspberry jam, and cream that you pour into the pan before the cake batter.  Ah, wonderful and messy. 

 

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recipe online at epicurious.com

 

 

Chocolate bundt cake

Laura thinks this might be the best chocolate cake ever, which certainly was Cooks' Illustrated magazine's intention.  It manages to be light and rich at the same time, and it goes great with homemade raspberry sorbet.  The secret ingredient: sour cream.  It's pretty quick and easy to make too. 

 

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Dutch baby pancake

All right, so this one is not technically a cake, but I couldn't resist sharing it anyway.  It's is a great brunch item, though I would confess to occasionally having it for dinner.   This recipe is even more amazing with strawberries, peaches or other fruit.  Just cut down on the honey if you're using sweeter fruit.  We also tend to use 2 or 3 peaches instead of one and substitute cinnamon for cardamom. 

 

If you don't have a cast iron skillet, a thick-bottomed stainless steel skillet works fine, or you can transfer your sauteed fruit from skillet to buttered baking/casserole dish for oven.

 

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Show me the cakes!

 

Page modified by Amy on 5-12-04.