There’s almost nothing in the world better than a layer cake. Few of us don’t love and admire them; it’s more a question of which type of layer cake you adore the most. Are you a chocolate-on-chocolate person? A citrus person? Buttercream or cream cheese frosting? Do you like to see the layers, or do you prefer them to stay hidden until you slice into the cake? (It’s no wonder, you see, that we devoted a whole book to cakes.) Whether you go bananas for a salted-caramel cake or a dulce de leche one, we’ve got the layer cake for you, right this way.
Among choco-philes, there’s no contest: A three-story, double-chocolate cake is going to win the day. This confection proves the point that sometimes you don’t need to frost the sides. It’s plenty pretty (and plenty delicious) without the extra frosting.
Citrus fanatics are as passionate as the chocolate aficionados, and this knockout blood-orange cake proves all sorts of points. Airy chiffon cake boasts a bouquet of orange zest and orange blossom water. Real vanilla bean in the creamy frosting adds nuance and a pretty effect. And who can complain about candied blood orange slices? This is a competition-winning sort of cake.
This is a Cinderella cake: It might look simple, but its charms emerge once you’ve taken a bite of it. Maybe that frosting looks like chocolate, or mocha, but it’s actually a divine homemade caramel spiked with cream. Serve it up without telling folks what’s in store, and watch them go wide-eyed.
Ostensibly yet one more way to get your vegetables, this carrot cake features a full one-and-a-half pounds of carrots. We packed it full of buttery walnuts and flaked coconut, too. The frosting is a traditional cream cheese version, with a touch of vanilla for contrast. As moist and satisfying as it is packed with bright flavors, we might even serve this to cap off a brunch.
As pretty as a Baked Alaska, but less tetchy and fussy thanks to the absence of ice cream, this riff on a lemon meringue pie is a true showstopper. Génoise cakes are similar in texture to moist sponge cakes, and are simultaneously rich and light in texture. This one features a super-citrusy, buttery curd, plus a cake flecked with lemon zest and a vanilla-tinged frosting.
Traditional gingerbread cake gets an oh-so-modern update in this multi-tiered confection starring maple-mascarpone cream cheese and the sweetest winter vignette. The decorations are as simple as can be: Rosemary sprigs as “branches,” confectioner-sugar “snow,” and gingerbread “people.” We have yet to meet a child who doesn’t go gaga for this one.
If you’re a salted-caramel person, you’re likely also a dulce de leche person. This cake mingles the lightest, fluffiest vanilla cake layers with silky, sweet dulce de leche, cloaking the whole thing in a marshmallow-esque frosting. It’s the sort of concoction you’re still thinking about days later, which should be the case with any great cake.