Classic Cake Recipes

From carrot to red velvet to German chocolate, here’s the best selection of classic cake favorites.

Queen Mothers Cake

This flourless chocolate cake is rich, moist, and surprisingly light. It’s wonderful served simply frosted, or it may be decorated with Chocolate Cigarettes–and/or served with whipped cream and berries on the side. See the recipe for Queen Mothers Cake »
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See the Recipe Christopher Hirsheimer

Very Moist Chocolate Layer Cake

Three velvety layers sandwiched with thick dark chocolate icing make a decadent, crowd-pleasing dessert. Get the recipe for Very Moist Chocolate Layer Cake »
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See the Recipe Chris Granger
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Ono Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting
The Tabasco Community Cookbook Awards, featured in the 2002 edition of our SAVEUR 100, celebrates people who produce cookbooks that benefit local communities and charities. This recipe is an adaptation of one from Tabasco Award winner The Tastes and Tales of Moiliili, a 1997 collection of recipes and stories from Honolulu’s Moiliili Community Center. See this Recipe Rick Lew

Lady Baltimore Cake

A traditional Southern confection, this regal dessert gained popularity through writer Owen Wister’s 1906 romance novel, Lady Baltimore. Three dreamy white layers of cake are infused with rose water and slathered with an Italian meringue frosting studded with pecans, raisins, dried figs, and candied orange peel.
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Smith Island Cake
This version of the Smith Island cake comes from island resident Mary Ada Marshall. Each layer contains a sprinkling of powdered peanut butter cups, and the top is garnished with chunks of the same. See this Recipe André Baranowski

Root beer cake

See the Recipe

Lindy’s Cheesecake

This classic New York-style cheesecake is brightened with orange and lemon zest. Get the recipe for Lindy’s Cheesecake »
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Dulce de Leche Cake
Luxuriant moistness is this dessert’s calling card. The secret to achieving the cake’s decadent texture is to poke it all over with a knife while it’s still warm, before dousing it with a rich milk mixture so that it penetrates every part of the cake’s interior. See this Recipe André Baranowski
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Red Velvet Cake
According to legend red velvet cake was invented in the 1950s at Oscar’s in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria. However, Raven Dennis of Cake Man Raven Confectionary (whose recipe we adapted) claims red velvet cake originated during the Civil War, and that southern ladies made it “to keep their husbands home.” See this Recipe André Baranowski

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

This recipe comes from the chief of the Arcata Fire Department in Humboldt County, California, and is considered an all-time favorite among the firemen. Get the recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake »

Hummingbird Cake

Honoring the legacy of the Southern cook Edna Lewis, this luscious, fruit-and-nut-studded layer cake is served in Atlanta’s Watershed restaurant. We included the recipe online to accompany Christiane Lauterbach’s feature about the restaurant, which ran in our April 2009 issue.
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Heaven and Hell Cake
Dallas chef Stephan Pyles’s rich, multilayered dessert of angel food and devil’s food cake, peanut butter mousse, and milk chocolate ganache should be frozen before icing is added and refrigerated before it’s sliced. See this Recipe André Baranowski

Grapefruit Cake

This citrus-spiked sheet cake is a Texas potluck favorite. **See the Recipe for Grapefruit Cake »**

German Chocolate Cake

This decadent triple-layer dessert takes its name from German’s Sweet Chocolate, a product that’s not German at all: the versatile baking chocolate was created by an American baker named Samuel German in 1852. Get the recipe for German Chocolate Cake »

Beth Kracklauer

“I’m seven years old, and the yeasty smell of baking rolls hangs heavy in the air at my great-aunts Minnie and Selma’s apartment.” Read Beth Kracklauer’s essay, “Good Things to Come”

Yellow Cake with Fudge Icing

The key to making this cake’s rich icing is to stir it vigorously once it has cooled to the proper temperature.

Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake

A heady mixture of olive oil and preserved oranges flavors this moist, dense Sicilian dessert.

Classic Carrot Cake

This version of the cake is a potluck and bake sale favorite; the addition of crushed pineapple helps to keep it sweet and moist. Get the recipe for Classic Carrot Cake »

Spiced Carrot Layer Cake

Orange juice and zest, cinnamon, and ginger add verve and depth to this sumptuous cake. Get the recipe for Spiced Carrot Layer Cake »

Orange Cake (Portokalopita)

Chopped phyllo dough gives this orange-scented custard cake from Crete its layered texture. Get the recipe for Orange Cake (Portokalopita) » **

Strawberry Cake

Strawberry cake, topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting, is a favorite soul food dessert; this delicious version comes from Bertha’s Kitchen.

Pineapple Sponge Cake

This pineapple sponge cake, developed by chef Judy Haubert as a Mother’s Day gift for her mom, swaps coconut flour for the standard all-purpose. It makes for a moister crumb—as well as emphasizing pineapple’s tropical flavor—and has the added bonus of making the cake naturally gluten-free.

Black Forest Cake

This classic German cake, a masterpiece of cherry brandy-soaked pastry engineering, improves the longer it sits. Get the recipe for Black Forest Cake »

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

You won’t miss the flour in this rich chocolate cake, developed for us by gluten free chef Judy Haubert.

Caramel Cake

Buttery layer cake draped in caramel fudge, with its over-the-top grandeur and unapologetic sweetness, is a Southern classic.

Coconut Cake

Fresh coconut and its sweet water are the keys to this cake, passed down from pastry chef Ben Mims’ grandmother, Jane Newson.

Lemon Layer Cake

Lemon infuses this layered masterpiece in three ways: zested into the batter, in a tart syrup that get drizzled over the cakes, and in a thick lemon curd frosting.

Red Velvet Cake

Though cream cheese frosting is typically used nowadays on red velvet cake, classic whipped cream frosting makes for a more balanced sweetness.

Walnut Spice Cake

Alternating layers of white and brown spiced cake are delicious sandwiched with a rich, chocolate fudge icing.

Smoked Coconut Cheesecake

This coconut cheesecake with a thick whipped cream topping looks typical enough, but it’s perfumed with musky, flowery aromas and flavored with notes of caramel and smoke. Get the recipe for Smoked Coconut Cheesecake »

Angel Food Cupcakes with Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

These cupcakes are the perfect spring or summer treat–light and airy angel food cake is topped with a tangy lemon-mascarpone frosting and garnished with fresh berries. Get the recipe for Angel Food Cupcakes with Lemon Mascarpone Frosting »

Elvis Presley’s Pound Cake

The King was a big fan of rich sweets, and classic buttery pound cake—flavored simply with vanilla—was no exception.

Boston Cream Pie

There’s an unwavering appeal to two layers of golden sponge cake sandwiching thick custard, all topped with a glossy layer of chocolate.
Named for its light, fluffy texture and ethereal, pale crumb, angel food cake is the perfect base for a whipped cream and syrupy fruit topping.

Rum Bundt Cake

A supremely moist, boozy Southern bundt cake fitting for any holiday spread.