A wedding without a wedding cake? A birthday party without a birthday cake? That’s like a party balloon without air. Just picture the moment when the lights dim, the crowd sings and a cake with swirls of frosting and glowing candles makes its way to the table for that special someone. Cakes make that magic moment of every great celebration. And the one sure way to really amplify the “oohs” and “aahs” is to bake a cake from scratch.
So we turned to Nick Malgieri, award-winning cookbook author and director of the baking programs at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. His uncomplicated approach to cakes is reason enough to celebrate. If you can handle a spatula and an electric mixer, you can make one of these three cakes. Sure, it might be easier to buy a fancy cake at a patisserie. But if you have the time and something to commemorate, give it a personal touch and make one of these irresistible beauties. Here are our three most amazing cakes and a few tips for success:
The Cake Recipe: Apricot Bavarian Cream Cake
A silky-smooth Bavarian-style apricot cream envelops the golden sponge cake in this truly spectacular healthy cake recipe. The cream is set with gelatin to make it firm enough to hold its shape when unmolded, but the texture is more like a delicate mousse.
Tips for successful Apricot Bavarian Cream Cake:
1. To create a surface that will readily absorb the flavorful soaking syrup, shave off the very top of each layer of sponge cake with a serrated knife.
2. To apply the syrup to the cake layers, use a pastry brush to evenly moisten the surface, brushing on enough to hydrate the cake without making it wet.
3. Carefully center the first layer in the springform pan; cover with cream mixture. Place the second layer in the exact middle, then pour in the rest of the cream.
The Cake Recipe: Berry Chantilly Cake
In this beautiful and simple Chantilly cake recipe, fresh berries are layered with whipped cream and delicate sponge cake for a special sweet that’s as well suited for a bridal shower as it is for a birthday, graduation party or other special occasion. Fill and top with any combination of fresh berries.
Tip for successful Berry Chantilly Cake:
To frost a fruit-filled cake, start by filling in the gap between the layers with frosting, using an offset spatula, until the sides are flush. If there are any berries showing through, gently push them toward the middle. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and around the sides. Be generous with the frosting at the edges to prevent the cake layers from showing through. The result: a gorgeous snow-white finish.
The Cake Recipe: Raspberry-Peach Trifle Cake
Lightly poached peaches, fresh raspberries and creamy vanilla custard fill the layers in this trifle-inspired healthy cake recipe. Impressively tall and luscious, this four-layer cake can be tricky to cut. For neater slices, you can assemble two shorter (two-layer) cakes instead.
Tips for successful Raspberry-Peach Trifle Cake:
1. To cut cake layers in half horizontally, use a large serrated knife and cut just 1 inch into the cake (not all the way through), turning the cake until it’s cut all the way around. Using that cut as a guide, cut the rest of the way through the cake with a gentle sawing motion.
2. For a level cake, evenly spread the custard over each layer and then arrange the fruit as uniformly as possible before the next layer is stacked on top.