Whether it's for a birthday or some other special occasion (even if the occasion just happens to be dessert), baking a cake from scratch is a great way to show how much you care. Maybe it's the fact that the alternative — a boxed cake mix — is so readily available that makes baking from scratch seem like you went above and beyond.
But here's a secret: Baking from scratch is barely any harder than baking from a mix. Yes, you have to measure the ingredients, and a digital scale will... really help with that. But otherwise, you've still got to crack eggs, mix batter, grease cake pans and so on.
Another tip: The number-one cause of cake failures is using baking powder and/or baking soda that have gone stale. Basically, if it's been in your pantry for more than six months, it's stale, and your cake won't rise properly.
Also see: Measuring Ingredients in Baking
01 of 05
Sponge cake is one of the simplest cakes to make because there's no baking powder or baking soda involved in making it rise. Instead, sponge cake is leavened by whisking air into the eggs. Brush the cooled cake with simple syrup and top with whipped cream, fresh fruit and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Also see: Baking Soda Vs. Baking Powder
02 of 05
Usually, we think of comfort food as savory, whether it's mashed potatoes and gravy, or mac and cheese, or whatever. But isn't chocolate cake the ultimate comfort food? This classic chocolate cake is rich, moist and chocolatey. One of the keys is that we bloom the cocoa powder in boiling water, which brings out an unbelievable chocolate flavor.
Also see: Chocolate Frosting Recipe
03 of 05
Besides providing a delicious carrot flavor and lovely orange hue, shredded carrots help ensure that the cake is nice and moist while giving it a pleasantly dense consistency without being too heavy. Topped with a rich, tangy cream cheese frosting, you've got yourself a classic cake.
Also see: Cream Cheese Frosting
04 of 05
Red velvet cake is made with cocoa powder along with buttermilk and vinegar, which provides extra rising power as well as flavor. The deep red color comes from red food coloring, and you need to use 1/4 cup to really get the color right. Sounds like a lot, but it's the only way to get it that red. Cream cheese frosting pulls it together perfectly.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Pound cake is a rich, dense, buttery cake that got its name because it originally was made with a pound each of butter, flour, eggs and sugar. The proportions are the same in this recipe, but we only use a half pound of each. You're going to want to eat it still warm from the oven.