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The Cookstr 10: Ten Occasion Cakes to Impress

April 7, 2011

Cakes have always been synonymous with special occasions, from the multi-tiered French Croquembouche to the privilege of licking the frosting from a chocolate-covered spatula. As the Latin poet Ovid wrote in 8 A.D., “Show him a cake and say it is thy birthday.”

Springtime offers plenty of opportunities for celebratory desserts, and with the Royal Wedding approaching at the end of this month, we’ve got occasion cakes on our minds. Here are ten confections ideally suited to birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, wedding parties, and other festivities.

Abby Dodge's Banana Layer Cake with Fudgy Frosting

Greg Patent's Princess Torte

1. Devil’s Food Layer Cake with White Mountain Frosting

Mark Peel

An airy chocolate layer cake is a must in every baker’s repertoire, and this recipe is easy enough for less seasoned chefs to master as well. An Italian frosting sets this variation apart, bringing heavenly clouds of meringue to this devil’s food delight.

Click here for Mark’s Devil’s Food Layer Cake with White Mountain Frosting Recipe

2. Princess Torte

Greg Patent

With layers of delicate sponge cake interspersed with raspberry jam, sumptuous egg custard, whipped cream and a thin layer of green marzipan, this Swedish torte is perfect for springtime and just as fit for a birthday prince as well.

Click here for Greg’s Princess Torte Recipe

3. 1-2-3-4 Cake

James Beard

The formula for this standard three-layer cake is simple: 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs. However, the addition of a sweet citrus mixture drizzled between the layers makes for a refreshing finish, ideal for a garden party this spring.

Click here for  James’ 1-2-3-4 Cake Recipe

4. Peanut Butter Crunch Cake, Squared

Flo Braker

Birthdays are an opportunity to indulge the id of everyone’s taste buds, and this cake hearkens back to childish loves of crunchy peanut butter and creamy white chocolate while incorporating grown-up notes of buttermilk and sesame seeds.

Click here for Flo’s Peanut Butter Crunch Cake, Squared Recipe

5. Banana Layer Cake with Fudgy Frosting or Tangy Vanilla Frosting
Abby Dodge

This moist confection takes only a few hours to construct and makes use of blackened, overripe bananas that serve up the most concentrated flavor. A fudge frosting will delight chocoholics and younger audiences, but a sour cream-based vanilla option adds a tangy twist.

Click here for Abby’s Banana Layer Cake with Fudgy Frosting or Tangy Vanilla Frosting Recipe

6. Three-Layer Carrot Cake

Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

For die-hard carrot cake fans, no other cake will do, especially on a special occasion. This recipe has a few secret ingredients: cocoa, Ceylon cinnamon and peanut oil give it depth, while pecans provide texture. A classic cream cheese frosting is, well, the icing on the cake.

Click here for Edna and Scott’s Three-Layer Carrot Cake Recipe

7.  Butterscotch Layer Cake

Nigella Lawson
A far cry from bottled simulations, true butterscotch is the alchemy that occurs when brown sugar and butter are boiled to caramelized bliss. Some suggested variations involving espresso or bananas allow you to customize this decadent dessert.

Click here for Nigella’s Butterscotch Layer Cake Recipe

8.  Four-Layered Red Velvet Cake

Matt Lee and Ted Lee

A Southern tradition named for its crimson hue and silken texture, red velvet cake has enjoyed a recent and well-deserved resurgence in popularity. This version incorporates orange zest for an extra wallop of flavor.

Click here for Matt and Ted’s Four-Layered Red Velvet Cake Recipe

9.  Malted Chocolate Layer Cake

Pichet Ong
Layers of unsweetened cocoa batter, malted chocolate mousse and Vietnamese coffee buttercream combine to create a conquest of a cake that’s an unusual shift from more classic chocolate concoctions.

Click here for Pichet’s Malted Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe

10. Big Strawberry Shortcake

Sheila Lukins

Strawberry season has arrived, and that means shortcakes. While individually sized biscuits topped with sugared strawberries are an easy and excellent go-to summer dish, this supersized variation is dramatic enough to impress a crowd.

Click here for Sheila’s Big Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

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