Bake the Ultimate Cake | Midwest Living

Bake the Ultimate Cake

Let our 45 recipes inspire you, whether you're baking a cake for a holiday, birthday or just for dinner tonight.

Three-Tiered Fudgy Chocolate Cake

Buttermilk and sour cream lend moistness and tang to our old-fashioned chocolate cake. All that's missing are the birthday candles.

Three-Tiered Fudgy Chocolate Cake recipe

Quick Black Forest Cherry Cake

This quick twist on the classic German chocolate-cherry cake uses boxed cake mix and cherry preserves. Don't skip the kirsch or brandy; it adds that signature Black Forest flavor.

Quick Black Forest Cherry Cake

Cafe Latte's Turtle Cake

Sheer three-layered audacity put this creation from a Saint Paul bakery in our hall of fame: buttermilk-cocoa cake, candylike chocolate frosting and creamy caramel sauce. Originally published: December 2005.

Cafe Latte's Turtle Cake

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Three-Tiered Fudgy Chocolate Cake

Buttermilk and sour cream lend moistness and tang to our old-fashioned chocolate cake. All that's missing are the birthday candles.

Three-Tiered Fudgy Chocolate Cake recipe

Cookies-and-Cream Cake

Combine white cake mix and Oreos for a super-easy dessert. The recipe, from a Spearville, Kansas, reader, was among the winners in a Midwest Living® chocolate recipe contest.

Cookies-and-Cream Cake

Key Lime Coconut Cake with Meringue Frosting

Billowy Meringue Frosting tops a moisty and buttery lime-flecked cake whose subtle coconut flavor comes from canned cream of coconut.

Key Lime Coconut Cake with Meringue Frosting

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

This utterly unforgettable autumn cake layers moist chocolate-pumpkin cake, luscious milk chocolate ganache and fluffy pumpkin-spice whipped cream. The recipe comes from Minnesota blogger Amanda Rettke (iambaker.net).

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake recipe

See a short video about how to make this cake

Raspberry Swirl Angel Food Cake

A subtle swirl of fresh raspberries infuses this homemade angel food cake with light fruit flavor. Like all angel food cakes, it has no fat or cholesterol.

Raspberry Swirl Angel Food Cake

Carrot Pineapple Cake

No one will believe you baked this beautiful, moist cake in your slow cooker! The homemade cream cheese frosting is lusciously delicious, but you can substitute canned frosting in a pinch.

Carrot Pineapple Cake

Our Best-Ever Chocolate Cake

This recipe has been perfected through the years. We think you’ll agree that it is the moistest, richest, “chocolatiest” cake ever. Of the many ways to frost it, we vote for our classic Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting — though you can certainly use your family’s favorite.

Our Best-Ever Chocolate Cake

Pumpkin-Praline Layer Cake

This nutty layer cake is a favorite dessert with Midwest Living® readers. Whipped cream tops a moist filling of pumpkin, brown sugar, pecans, butter and more whipping cream.

Pumpkin-Praline Layer Cake

Hummingbird Cake

This tall layer cake, with a medley of flavors from nuts, fruit and spices, comes from the kitchens of Silver Dollar City theme park near Branson, Missouri. Add a sprinkling of pecans on top for even more crunch.

Hummingbird Cake

Lemony Prairie Cake

Mix just six ingredients, including lemon-lime carbonated beverage, to make this lovely, citrusy cake from an Alta Vista, Kansas, reader.

Lemony Prairie Cake

Tinted Angel Cake

The many colors of Kool-Aid, a Nebraska invention, give an array of choices for this angel food cake that starts with a mix. Pink lemonade Kool-Aid adds pastel prettiness and a delicate flavor to Tinted Angel Cake. The tropical punch version gives the cake flavor that's as intense as its color.

Tinted Angel Cake

Maple Syrup Cake

Ruth Smiley of Parke County, Indiana, gave us her recipe for Maple Syrup Cake, which she makes in a fluted tube pan. We mixed up an easy maple syrup icing to drizzle over the top. 

Maple Syrup Cake

Cranberry Layer Cake

This moist white cake combines toasted pecans and refreshing orange peel with cranberries. Orange peel flavors the thick cream cheese frosting, too.

Cranberry Layer Cake

Buster Brown Cake with Delicious Icing

A Canton, Ohio, reader contributed this recipe for a favorite brown sugar cake that is often served at family gatherings.

Buster Brown Cake with Delicious Icing

Fresh Apple Cake

This nutty comfort cake from Sharon Buckner of Rhineland, Missouri, gets a sugary top and caramelized gooey bottom as it cooks. Don't be surprised by the thick batter; it will bake into a moist, dense cake.

Fresh Apple Cake

Pioneer Wedding Stack Cake

This modern version of a pioneer wedding cake represents South Dakota and its prairie heritage. It's said that each guest brought a cake layer to a pioneer wedding to stack together. Our Pioneer Wedding Stack Cake is based on a simple molasses recipe with applesauce filling. The moist layers are simple, yet elegant.

For more cakes that salute the Midwest's heritage, click on the link below to "Signature Midwest Cakes."

Pioneer Wedding Stack Cake

Signature Midwest Cakes

Toasted Fennel-Lemon Cake

This moist beauty begs for a mug of afternoon tea. Fennel seeds add the faintest hint of licorice flavor, just enough to make the cake stand out from the other Bundts in the room. We like the sweeter flavor of Meyer lemons in this cake. Look for them sold in bags at large supermarkets. If you substitute regular lemons, reduce the zest to 2 tablespoons.

Toasted Fennel-Lemon Cake

Fabulous Red Velvet Cake

We gussied up chocolate cake mix with sour cream and red food coloring, then crowned this cake with a white chocolate-cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut.

Fabulous Red Velvet Cake

Spiced Pecan Sweet Potato Cake

Deborah Biggs of Omaha completes this amazingly moist dessert with Maple Whipped Cream. 

Spiced Pecan Sweet Potato Cake

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

This recipe for an old-fashioned pound cake with a sugar-browned crust comes from a Benton Harbor, Michigan, reader, whose family eats the cake warm from the oven.

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

Dutch Mocha Chocolate Cake

Cocoa powder, coffee and sour cream combine to make this moist, dark three-layer cake. The Unforgettable White Chocolate Frosting (at end of recipe) is irresistible, but if you prefer, you can use a regular butter frosting.

Dutch Mocha Chocolate Cake

Poppy Seed Torte

This four-layer cake, with a pudding-like filling and whipped cream frosting, is the most popular dessert at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.

Poppy Seed Torte

Best Carrot-Pineapple Cake

Cream cheese frosting crowns a rich, moist and nutty carrot cake. Cinnamon and allspice add just the right spiciness.

Best Carrot-Pineapple Cake

Pumpkin Pie Cake

Sprinkle moist pumpkin filling with a cake mix topping for a quick and easy cake. The recipe is from Farmer's Inn in Havana, North Dakota.

Pumpkin Pie Cake

Hot Cocoa Cake

Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, took a basic chocolate cake and infused a little coffee and bittersweet chocolate to give it a sophisticated flavor.

Hot Cocoa Cake

Tart Cherry Half-Pound Cake

Pound cakes traditionally are made with a pound each of sugar, butter, flour and eggs. This recipe, from Chicago cookbook authors Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey, uses closer to a half-pound of each main ingredient. "We've also added a bit of milk, so the cake is lighter and moister," the authors say.

Tart Cherry Half-Pound Cake

Peach Cordial Mini Bundt Cakes

The memory of a childhood orchard trip inspired Melinsa Murphey of Olathe, Kansas, to create this recipe. The cakes are moist and sweet and quite generously proportioned, so you may want to serve a half-cake to each person (or bake them in muffin cups instead).

Peach Cordial Mini Bundt Cakes

Midwinter Cake

A pudding-based chocolate filling fills layers of purchased ladyfingers. Garnish with whipped cream, fresh fruit and slivered almonds, if you like.

Midwinter Cake

Carrot-Zucchini Cake

A pecan-cream cheese icing tops this cake from an Elkhart, Indiana, reader.

Carrot-Zucchini Cake

Lemonade Cake

Lemon Butter Frosting tops a summer-perfect cake flavored with thawed lemonade concentrate.

Lemonade Cake

Whoopie Pie Cake

This cake, based on trendy whoopie pie cookies, won a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair. "It's hard to beat a chocolate cake with a creamy marshmallow filling and chocolate glaze," says recipe creator Karen Cope of Minneapolis.

Whoopie Pie Cake

Butterscotch Cake

Yellow cake mix and butterscotch-flavored pieces create an easy-on-the-cook cake from The Gourmet Grocer in Kansas City, Missouri. Make a smooth Butterscotch Frosting from cream cheese, powdered sugar and melted butterscotch-flavored pieces.

Butterscotch Cake

German Chocolate-Nut Cake

This cake includes broken pecans in place of flour for a dense, dark-chocolate dessert. Drizzle with our Toasted Coconut-Pecan Caramel Sauce.

German Chocolate-Nut Cake

Sweet Potato-Cranberry Cake

Marble chocolate and sweet potato batter for a moist, tender spice cake. The recipe comes from Patricia Polley of Columbus, Ohio. "I love this because it contains chocolate, pecans and cranberries," Patricia says. "This is my adaptation of a recipe I got from the PBS Victory Garden years ago. I changed spices and added cranberries."

Sweet Potato-Cranberry Cake

White Three-Layer Butter Cake

This moist three-layer cake stars at any elegant get-together. The recipe is from an Eaton Rapids, Michigan, bed & breakfast.

White Three-Layer Butter Cake

Heavenly Chiffon Cake

Doris Heikes of Decorah, Iowa, enjoys bringing this dessert to potluck buffets. The tender cake is topped with Browned Butter Icing and sliced almonds or chopped nuts.

Heavenly Chiffon Cake

Coffee Nut Torte

Cocoa and rum flavor the soft butter frosting that crowns this airy three-layer cake from Elizabeth Varga of Barberton, Ohio. The recipe came from her Hungarian grandmother.

Coffee Nut Torte

Chocolate-Raspberry Mousse Cake

Combine raspberries with cake mix and mousse mix for this taste-tempting (and easy) chocolate delight from a Chaska, Minnesota, reader.

Chocolate-Raspberry Mousse Cake

Prairie State Oatmeal Cake

This moist, coconut-walnut-topped oatmeal cake comes from an Alexis, Illinois, reader, who likes to take it on family outings to Wildlife Prairie State Park near Peoria.

Prairie State Oatmeal Cake

Broadway Cafe Apple Cake

A generous portion of chopped Granny Smith apples adds flavor and moisture to this cake. Be careful turning it out of the pan; it's a tender cake. The recipe comes from Broadway Cafe in Kansas City, Missouri.

Broadway Cafe Apple Cake

Luscious Cranberry-Chocolate Cake

Midwest cooking school guru Liz Clark added cranberries to this recipe from a friend in Chicago who develops recipes for restaurants. The dense, chocolatey layer cake is featured in Liz's cookbook, The Cranberry Companion.

Luscious Cranberry-Chocolate Cake

Peachy-Keen Upside Down Cake

This colorful dessert, prepared with a packaged cake mix, goes together quickly. Try it with fresh peaches in season, but frozen unsweetened peaches will do fine, too, the rest of the year.

Peachy-Keen Upside Down Cake

Chocolate Picnic Cake

A crunchy topping of walnuts, chocolate and sugar replaces the usual frosting on this rich and moist red-colored snack cake.

Chocolate Picnic Cake

Regal Marble Chiffon Cake

This showstopping cake is our version of a special-occasion dessert that's a favorite at Amish gatherings in the Midwest.

Regal Marble Chiffon Cake

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