Lovely Cakes for Leisurely Weekend Baking
You don’t need to make a trip to the bakery every time you’re in the mood for a gorgeous cake. As long as you have the required ingredients and a few hours to spare, you can easily make your own lovely desserts. These five cakes are perfect projects to tackle on the weekend — you’ll have the time needed to make stunning ombre layers, piped designs, and fabulous fillings. Cancel your weekend plans; you’ve got a beautiful cake to bake!
1. White Chocolate Macadamia Cake with Raspberries and White Chocolate Buttercream
Toasted macadamia nuts give this cake a warm nuttiness, which pairs perfectly with a sweet raspberry filling. White chocolate leaves, made from lemon leaves and white chocolate, provide this dessert with a super sleek finish. Fine’s Cooking’s recipe is so fancy that you may be hesitant to dig in after baking it, but trust us, you’ll definitely want to help yourself to a slice or two — it’s too tasty to just look at! It makes 16 servings.
- 12 ounces (1½ cups) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pans
- 14 ounces (3½ cups) cake flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2⅓ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
- 6½ ounces white chocolate, chopped (1⅓ cups)
- 4 ounces (1 cup) chopped toasted macadamia nuts
White Chocolate Leaves
- 9 to 12 organic lemon leaves, preferably different sizes
- 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (1¼ cups)
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1½ pounds (3 cups) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 2 cups raspberry jam
- 2 cups (8 ounces) fresh raspberries
- ¼ to ⅓ cup fresh raspberries
- 3 to 6 small sprigs fresh mint
Directions: Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans, lining each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add about one-third of the flour mixture, mixing on low until incorporated. Add half of the buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Continue adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, alternating between the two and ending with the flour. The batter will be thick and glossy. Fold in the white chocolate and macadamia nuts.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Level the batter with a spatula. Set two pans on the top rack and the third on the lower rack. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no pan is directly over another. Bake, swapping and rotating the pans’ positions after 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 28 to 35 minutes total. Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.
To make the white chocolate leaves, wash the leaves and dry them with paper towels. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Put the white chocolate in a metal bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and whisk until melted and smooth. Using a small pastry brush, paint a thick coat of chocolate on the underside of each leaf. Don’t let chocolate drip over the sides of the leaves.
Place the leaves chocolate side up on the prepared baking sheet and leave in a cool, dry place or refrigerate until the chocolate has set. Hold the leaf stem and peel the leaf carefully away from the chocolate. Transfer the chocolate leaves to the other prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the buttercream, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and egg yolks on high speed until thick and lightened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, clip a candy thermometer to a 3-quart saucepan. Combine the sugar with ½ cup water in the pan and simmer over medium heat until it reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit to 235 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the sugar mixture to a heatproof measuring cup. With the mixer running on low speed, pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture in a slow, thin stream.
Increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture has cooled, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the butter 4 tablespoons at a time, beating on medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds for each addition. After all the butter has been added, add the salt, raise the speed to medium high, and beat until thick and glossy, about 1 minute. Fold the white chocolate into the buttercream.
To assemble the cake, put a cake layer on a flat serving platter or a cake stand lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while icing. Top the layer with 1 cup of the jam, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula to the cake’s edge. Scatter 1 cup of the raspberries evenly over the jam. Repeat with a second cake layer, the remaining 1 cup jam, and the remaining 1 cup raspberries. Top with the last cake layer.
Put 2 cups of the buttercream in a small bowl. With an offset spatula, spread this buttercream in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake until the buttercream firms enough to seal in the crumbs, 20 to 30 minutes. Spread the remaining buttercream in a thick, smooth layer over the entire cake. Remove the waxed paper strips. Decorate with the white chocolate leaves, fresh raspberries, and mint leaves, if using. Before serving, let sit at room temperature until the chocolate leaves soften slightly, about 30 minutes.
2. Brown Butter Pink Ombre Daisy Cake with Strawberry Jam
A decadent brown butter cake is filled with sweet strawberry jam and covered in cream cheese icing in Raspberri Cupcakes’ recipe. Lovely shades of pink create an ombre effect, which is accentuated by frosting that’s piped to look like daisies. Don’t slather on the frosting too heavily; you don’t want to take away from the cake’s fabulous flavors! You can make your flowers even cuter by placing yellow skittles in the center of each piped flower.
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pans
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⅔ cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs
- 1¼ cups milk, at room temperature
- About ½ cup strawberry jam for spreading
- About 17.6 ounces cream cheese, chopped
- About 8.8 ounces unsalted butter, chopped
- 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Optional: natural pink food color
- Yellow skittles, to decorate
Directions: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl in an ice water bath until the butter hardens.
Butter two or three cake pans; line the bottoms of the pans with baking paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. In a medium bowl, whisk 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour with the baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, scrape set brown butter and beat with an electric mixer on high until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks followed by the whole eggs. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating additions, scraping the bowl as necessary. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes if doing three layers, closer to 40 minutes if only making two, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack to let them cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper. Remove butter and cream cheese from the fridge 30 minutes before starting icing. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat butter with an electric mixer on high until smooth and fluffy. Add cream cheese and beat until combined and smooth.
With the mixer on low, gradually add icing sugar, add vanilla, and increase to high. Beat until light and fluffy. If doing ombre icing, take about ⅓ of the icing, split that icing into two separate bowls and tint one bowl light pink and one bowl a darker pink. Trim any uneven tops off the cake layers. If filling cake with strawberry jam, whisk jam to remove lumps and sandwich between cake layers. Using the white cream cheese icing, crumb coat outside of cake. Chill in fridge for at least 15 minutes.
3. Green Ombre Cake
I Am Baker delivers a colorful cake that showcases several shades of green. As indulgent and beautiful as it is, it’s surprisingly easy to make. Whip up a white cake, color with green food coloring, bake, frost, add sprinkles, and serve. This is more of a guideline than it is a recipe, so feel free to get creative with it!
I Am Baker even offers advice on how to create clean cuts in the cake when presenting it: Freeze it for at least 2 hours before serving, and place a very sharp knife in boiling water. Remove the knife, wipe dry, and make your first cut. Before slicing again, dip the knife back into the boiling water to clean and reheat.
Directions: Make one white cake recipe, dividing into six bowls. Leave one bowl plain, use 2 to 3 drops of green food coloring in the second bowl, 4 to 5 drops in the third bowl, ¼ teaspoon in the fourth, ½ teaspoon in the fifth, and 1 teaspoon in the sixth. Pour the batter into prepared 6-inch round cake pans, and bake.
After the cakes have cooked and cooled, stack them on a cake stand. Starting with the darkest layer, cover it in about ¼ cup of white frosting. Place the next darkest layer on top, adding more frosting. Repeat until every layer has been stacked. You should end with the white layer on top. Cover the cake in a crumb coat of buttercream, chill for about 30 minutes in fridge, and then cover in a final smooth coat of buttercream. For the outside decoration, press three different color green sprinkles into the upper edge of the cake.
4. Champagne Cake with Fresh Strawberries
No one will believe that boxed mix was used to prepare this breathtaking cake. Champagne is included in Better Homes and Gardens’ recipe, ensuring the dessert is light but not overly sweet. Because this cake can be whipped up so quickly, take your time on presentation. Create beautiful swirls with the frosting, and garnish with strawberries. It makes 10 servings.
- 1 package 2-layer size white cake mix
- Champagne or sparkling wine
- 1 (16 ounce) can vanilla frosting
- Few drops red food coloring
- Sliced or whole fresh strawberries
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour two 8-by-1½-inch round cake pans; set aside. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. When preparing the mix, replace the water with an equal amount of champagne. Pour batter into prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake according to package directions. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Remove from pans; cool completely on racks. Tint frosting with food coloring so that it’s a light pink. On a serving plate, place one cake layer, bottom side up. Spread with about ½ cup of the tinted frosting. Place remaining cake layer, rounded side up, on top. Frost top and side of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with strawberries.
5. Coconut Cake with Raspberry Filling
Coconut flour adds a warm nuttiness to Cooking Light’s cake, while the rich raspberry filling brightens it up. Toasted coconut flakes add an elegant touch to simple white frosting, creating an enticing treat that is easy on the eyes and pleasing to the palate. The recipe yields 16 servings.
- 2 pints fresh raspberries (12 ounces)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons Chambord (raspberry-flavored liqueur)
- Baking spray with flour
- 8 ounces cake flour (about 2 cups)
- 2 ounces coconut flour or cake flour (about ½ cup)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups sugar, divided
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup coconut water
- 6 large egg whites
- 3 large egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the filling, combine raspberries, ⅓ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Combine cornstarch and liqueur in a bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to raspberry mixture, stirring with a whisk; return to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until very thick, stirring constantly. Spoon mixture into a bowl; cover and refrigerate until needed.
To prepare cake, coat 3 (8-inch) round metal cake pans with baking spray, and line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with baking spray; set prepared pans aside. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; stir with a whisk. In a large bowl, add 1¼ cups sugar, oil, butter, and vanilla, and beat with a mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes or until fluffy. Add coconut water; beat at low speed 1 minute or until combined. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed 1 minute or until well combined.
In a large bowl, place 6 egg whites. Beat with a mixer at high speed until medium peaks form using clean, dry beaters. Add ¼ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; beat 1 minute. Stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into batter; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 19 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire rack.
To make the frosting, place 3 egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until medium peaks form using clean, dry beaters. Combine ½ cup sugar, 3 tablespoons water, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 250 degrees. With mixer on low speed, pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream down the side of mixing bowl. Gradually increase speed to high; beat 3 minutes or until thick and cool.
To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread with half of filling (about 1 cup), leaving a ½-inch border. Top with another cake layer, and spread with remaining filling, leaving a ½-inch border. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Gently press coconut flakes into sides of cake.