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Need a simple but elegant cake recipe

Hey all, I'm in need of a simple, no fail, elegant cake recipe. Prefer something not iced or layered. If bundt, tube or round pan all the better.

I saw something about an apple dapple type cake that called out to me but wondering if anyone has any other suggestions. Must be no fail because I don't have time to do a trial run and I'm not the best baker around.

Thanks all.

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  1. How about a pineapple upside down cake, very easy to make, very pretty as well?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ruthie789

      Ruthie789, do you have a tried and true recipe to share?

      Magiesmom, I have the book - any recipe in particular?

      1. re: millygirl

        An apple upside down cake would be seasonal now. Just use whatever apples that hold their shape are available in your area, and guesstimate how much brown sugar to use dependent upon how sweet or tart the apples are. Adding maple syrup is good too - either to the apples or the batter.
        Upside down cakes can be made with a wide choice of fruits.

        There's a very rich almond pound cake on the back of the label on the Solo almond filling can, and at www.solofoods.com. It is made in a bundt pan, with a simple drizzle icing of confectioner's sugar and milk (or amaretto). Another plus is that in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator, it tastes just-made for weeks...if it lasts that long.

        1. re: greygarious

          Thank you greygarious.

          We don't carry Solo products here in Canada so I appreciate the link. The recipe looks great and I esp like bundt cakes.

        2. re: millygirl

          With pleasure. Recipe below:
          8 rounds of pineapple
          1/4 cup of butter
          1/2 cup of brown sugar
          8 maraschino cherries
          1 cup of sifted cake flour
          1 teaspoon of baking powder
          1/4 teaspoon of salt
          4 eggs separated
          1 cup of white sugar
          1 tablespoon of melted butter
          1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
          Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a 9 inch square pan and add the brown sugar, stir over gentle heat until dissolved. Press the pineapple rounds into the brown sugar mix and add a cherry to each center.
          Stir together dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until lemon colour, gradually beat in 1/2 of the white sugar, add the 1 tablespoon of melted butter and vanilla. Beat egg whites until stiff, gradually add in the other half of white sugar. Combine the two egg mixtures, and fold into sifted dry ingredients. Pour over the pineapple carmel mixture, put in oven at 350 until done 30-45 minutes. Cool for about 15
          minutes and then invert onto a large platter. Serves 8 people.

      2. Look at Smitten kitchen's everyday cakes section, many wonderful ones there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: magiesmom

          YES!! Her cakes are awesome (except the red wine velvet, that one didn't work at all for some reason.) My favorite is the grapefruit olive oil cake in her cookbook, except I replace all the grapefruit ingredients (juice, zest) with lemon. Its a one-bowl, easy-peasy cake with no butter and it tastes delicious and perfectly moist!

        2. This time of year, my go-to cake is this one, made in a angel food pan, no frosting:

          Cinnamon-Apple Cake

          The cream cheese in the batter give this cake lots of moisture. Because it's so tender, use a serrated knife for cutting.

          Cooking Light JANUARY 2000
          •Yield: 12 servings

          •1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
          •3/4 cup (6 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened (I use regular)
          •1/2 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
          •1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          •2 large eggs
          •1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
          •1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
          •1/4 teaspoon salt
          •2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
          •3 cups chopped peeled Rome apple (about 2 large)
          • Cooking spray


          Preheat oven to 350°.

          Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside.

          Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, and beat at low speed until blended. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl; stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch spring form pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.

          Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of pan. Cool cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.

          Note: You can also make this cake in a 9-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan; just reduce the baking time by 5 minutes.

          2 Replies
            1. re: tcamp

              Yes, thanks tcamp for the recipe. It sounds like a lovely cake and I have one of the angel food springform pans that I inherited and now I have a use for it. Can't wait to try the recipe!

            2. My favorite easy cake would be a guiness chocolate cake, it is so moist and not too sweet.

              1. Can't remember which appear in the book but from the blog I love apple sharlotka , pear and bittersweet chocolate cake, dimply plum cake, and lemon yogurt anything cake. There is also a nice easy chocolate cake. Oh , and the honey cake is a winner too .

                If I were to choose one it would be the pear and chocolate cake.

                1. I love this chocolate olive cake and it's been a big hit at dinner parties I've served it at

                  I use chocolate olive oil from here to take it to an even more delicious level: http://www.queencreekolivemill.com/st...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ziggylu

                    I just noticed the mention of chocolate olive oil. Must.try.this.

                    1. re: ziggylu

                      Noticed quite a few comments about cake with olive oil. I've been hearing recently that olive oil shouldn't be heated due to it's low temperature smoke point, and is best for things like salad dressings and sauces. I use it in my favourite pesto recipe, but have been using alternates for sauteing or baking.
                      Now I've just looked up smoke points and it seems like extra light olive oil has a high smoke point and would be ok to heat.
                      Any have any input on this? Would an alternate oil work for the cake? Avocado oil perhaps?

                      1. re: blizzardgirl33

                        I don't think you need to worry about smoke point for a cake - it's more for sautéing and frying. Even though you might bake a cake at 350 (for example) the internal temperature will remain well below that, so there is never really a worry about the olive oil smoking. It's a bit like adding olive oil to bread or pizza dough - I cook these at high temps (500-550) but bread is taken out before the internal temp hits 200.

                        1. re: blizzardgirl33

                          I have read somewhere, and can't recall where, that there is something particular about olive oil that makes for a tender, moist cake. Can't remember where.

                          Based on what I have read about the issue, I am of the opinion that it is perfectly safe to cook with olive oil.

                      2. If you can make pancake batter, you can make the Apple Lady's Apple Cake. I have made it with skim milk and with ripe pears and it was totally yum.


                        1. some great ideas everyone, thank you!!!

                          They all sound wonderful but for this particular occasion I'm leaning towards the chocolate olive oil cake. I had some coffee olive oil but ran out. It would have been a nice addition. A resto I frequent does a wonderful version and it's precisely the kind of desert I was thinking of.

                          I love this kind of baking so I am definitely planning on trying all of these.

                          Great resource. Keep 'em coming folks!!! Thank you

                          20 Replies
                          1. re: millygirl

                            i always dissolve a little espresso powder in liquid and add that to chocolate batters. really amps up the flavor.

                            1. re: millygirl

                              How did it go? I'm curious, because after hours (and hours) of reading the baking threads here I've pretty much sworn off of any chocolate baked thing that contains cocoa but not chocolate. Even when I bloom the cocoa (and/or add coffee), the end result isn't as chocolaty as I want it to be...

                              1. re: THewat

                                Well, I had so much difficulty choosing one that I ended up going for something I've made before and it's dead easy. Cherry Nut Cake from a very old Second Helpings cookbook. Very basic but yummy with a dollop of whipped cream. In fact I just snarfed a piece now.

                                I seem to have gotten away from baking the last year or so. Too many late nights at the office. But I do enjoy it, and have promised myself to get back at it starting with this thread. All of them sound delicious and I will keep you posted on the results.

                                1. re: THewat

                                  Smitten kitchen has an interesting take on cocoa vs chocolate and cocoa butter vs butter. IMHO I much prefer cakes made from cocoa, they seem less sweet and fudgy. I really hate cake that tastes likes brownie, it is just way too rich and sweet for me.

                                  1. re: Gloriaa

                                    Is this the post you're referring to, Gloriaa? http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/0...

                                    I'm a fan of cocoa powder, not to the exclusion of chocolate, mind you, but I appreciate cocoa powder's place in my kitchen. Including in my brownies.

                                    1. re: debbiel

                                      No. I am referring to her latest entry(sept20). She made a cake for her son's 4 birthday.

                                      1. re: Gloriaa

                                        The Sept 20 smittenkitchen post is good reading - thanks. I use cocoa in much of my chocolate baking, but most successfully in conjunction with one of the many Felchlin chocolates. I love a good chocolate roulade, and these chocolate cookies: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/09/... I'd like to find a grown-up chocolate cake I could make as a loaf & that would hold its own without frosting, but I haven't had much success yet.

                                        1. re: THewat

                                          I think the cocoa only chocolate cakes, ie Guinness chocolate cake from epicurious minus icing, is a good adult cake because it isn't too sweet. It is great served with very lightly sweetened whipped cream and berries.
                                          Thks for the link to the cookies, I like DL recipes. I will definitely try hem.

                                          1. re: Gloriaa

                                            I was underwhelmed by this, which I think is the only all cocoa chocolate stout cake on the site: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo.... In my notes I say it was fine, but not particularly interesting. I didn't ice it. I think I put half of it in two loaf pans - maybe I overcooked it. Certainly everybody else in the world is crazy about it.

                                            1. re: THewat

                                              I think I've made this chocolate stout cake...I know I've made one off epicurious in the past adn don't remember having to melt chocolate to make it so I'm guessing it was this one. I made it for a St. Patricks dinner party and it was well received.

                                              Like Gloriaa though I don't like very sweet fudgy cakes...which is why I like the olive oil cake. It's moist and has good flavor but isn't too sweet or gooey for my taste.

                                              1. re: ziggylu

                                                Nigella Lawson's recipe for guiness cake tends to get a lot of positive reviews although I've never made it myself.

                                      2. re: debbiel

                                        I'm with you and Gloriaa on this one. I think cocoa (especially natural) and chocolate both have their merits. It annoys me when people treat cocoa as though it's chocolate's poor relation.

                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                          There are lots of us who like chocolate in small doses, who like the cookie part best in a chocolate chip cookie. Cocoa delivers enough chocolate flavour for me, I cannot eat a molten chocolate cake-way too much chocolate for me.

                                          1. re: Gloriaa

                                            those molten chocolate cakes are a scourge upon the earth. they always taste like chocolate-flavored egg. yuk.

                                            cocoa and chocolate each have their own place in a baking repertoire. the former is most certainly not the red-headed stepchild.

                                            1. re: Gloriaa

                                              Ah, someone else who wants to taste the cookie and feels that the chips shouldn't dominate! :))

                                      3. re: THewat

                                        I agree completely on your cocoa vs chocolate statements. I particularly dislike cakes where cocoa and flour are sifted together; they turn out dry and definitely not as chocolatey.

                                        Where cocoa is bloomed in a liquid they are tolerable. Here's one I made recently that turned out good (but not chocolatey enough):


                                        I plan to make it again, but using melted Felchlin chocolate (Bolivia 68%, my favourite) instead.

                                        Note: I dislike recipes using volumetric measurements, so I used RLB's Cake Bible for conversion: 24 gm cocoa, 195 gm flour, 300 gm sugar, and 2 sticks of butter.

                                      4. re: millygirl

                                        This sounds so good. I might add this to the menu for a dessert party I'm throwing next week.

                                          1. re: millygirl

                                            Oops. Sorry. The chocolate olive oil cake.

                                        1. re: millygirl

                                          Nigella's chocolate olive oil cake was one of five desserts I made for a dessert buffet night. It was absolutely delicious. Easy, too Looked beautiful. Incredible moist. Deep chocolate flavor. This one will stay on my rotation.

                                        2. The Casserole Sisters have great cake recipes...

                                          3 Replies
                                            1. re: millygirl

                                              They have a cookbook and a food blog. I would say the recipes are comfort inspired. I made a cranberry-sauce coffee cake it was very good.

                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                I meant the Casserole Queens, blog and publicity on cookbook below:

                                            2. I love almond cakes - no icing, sometimes I glaze sometimes I don't. Good with preserves or ice cream or chocolate sauce or macerated fruit. This looks close to the last version I made:

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: corneygirl

                                                Looks very nice. Some almond cakes tend to be really low. I like the height to this one...at least in the photograph :) We'll see what kind of results I get.

                                                1. re: corneygirl

                                                  I make the Lebovitz almond cake a lot in loaves. It does sink in the middle when I cook it that way. It's beloved by several of my friends.

                                                2. I really liked the clementine and almond syrup cake from the Ottolenghi/Tamimi Jerusalem cookbook. There is an optional chocolate icing (glaze) that I did not try. The cake itself was exceptional.


                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: pagesinthesun

                                                    Looks great, thanks for the link pagesinthesun!! I've not made any of his recipes yet although friends have with great success.
                                                    I'm looking forward to trying this one.

                                                    I love this thread. All of these sound wonderful and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again everyone.

                                                  2. Another SmittenKitchen recipe that's quick, easy and can be varied by the season is the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake. Sprinkle some coarse or icing sugar on top, and you're done
                                                    See: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/0...

                                                    1. http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes...
                                                      I'm making this right now, but with Kirschwasser rather than rum. It's ridiculously easy to make (dry ingredients go in big bowl, get whisked together, wet in another bowl, ditto; combine the two, bang in pan).

                                                      1. I've made this cake about a thousand times and it always comes out really well:


                                                        1. Pandan Chiffon Cake

                                                          This one is delicious, kind of unique and works in an angel cake pan or a bundt pan. This is Southeast Asian. You can find the pandan paste (or essence) at a well stocked Asian grocery or on line. After unmolding, sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar just before serving. Warning: this cake is green. You will have to explain it to guests at a potluck or they will bypass it. Pandan is an Asian flavoring, they use it like we use vanilla in the west. You can reduce the the sugar significantly in the egg white mixture if you prefer it not as sweet.

                                                          5 egg white
                                                          5 egg yolks
                                                          100g sugar (½ cup)
                                                          60g sugar (1/3 cup)
                                                          1/2 tsp pandan paste
                                                          2 tbsp water
                                                          100g (7/8 cup) self-raising flour (1 ½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt per cup of all purpose flour)
                                                          5 tbsp corn oil (or any vegetable oil)

                                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees
                                                          Using a food mixer, beat 5 egg whites with 100g sugar till light and fluffy

                                                          Make sure the egg whites become fluffy so the cake retains its spongy texture

                                                          In another bowl, whisk the 5 egg yolks, 60g sugar, pandan paste and 2 tbsp water well

                                                          Add into the bowl with the egg whites mixture and fold gently until no white is left

                                                          Add in the self-raising flour to batter mix in three steps, folding gently between each addition

                                                          Add in oil and fold in until just mixed

                                                          Make sure everything is blended but do not over blend or you will loose the bubbles from the egg white mixture

                                                          Pour the batter into a 2 piece ungreased angel cake pan and bake in moderate oven (350)

                                                          Cake is ready when brown on top and batter does not adhere to stick when tested about 45 minutes depending on pan and your oven

                                                          Take pan out of the oven and turn upside down until cool

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: InspectorJon

                                                            I love pandan, it tastes like vanilla and popcorn -- reminds me of the sugar popcorn we used to get when I was a kid.

                                                            1. re: InspectorJon

                                                              Thank you IJ, I just picked up pandan paste at H-Mart.

                                                              I have friends coming for coffee in a couple of weeks and want to make this.

                                                              Would it still be okay (sometimes cakes are even better), if I made it a couple of days in advance?



                                                              1. re: mcel215

                                                                It is a very moist cake due to the oil, I think it will keep fine. Don't sprinkle the powdered sugar on until just before serving or it will absorb moisture from the cake and kind of disappear from sight.

                                                                1. re: InspectorJon

                                                                  Thank you, it looks lovely.

                                                                  I have a bundt pan and an angle food cake pan, does it make a difference to you? I was reading some of the different bloggers on foodgawker and some mentioned it works better in the angel food cake pan. But my bundt pan will make a prettier presentation for friends. :) Thanks.


                                                                  1. re: mcel215

                                                                    I have read a bundt pan will work but I have never tried it. I always used an angel food cake pan.

                                                            2. Deborah Madison's lemon polenta pound cake is delicious. It can be made in advance and is stellar with some berries and cream (or a compote made with some frozen berries)

                                                              1. RLB's Golden Grand Marnier Cake from "The Cake Bible" is really great.

                                                                Made in a Bundt pan, and can be chocolate-glazed or not. Very moist.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                  Made this today in two loaves for a meeting. They were very, very tender, and both demolished. Thanks for posting.

                                                                  1. re: THewat

                                                                    Glad you liked it. I forgot to mention that I don't use chocolate chips as I like the chocolate more melted, so I use callets that I chop.

                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                      Souschef, I use Felchlin callets for almost everything, due to some old posts of yours. You & Buttertart & a handful of others are present in my kitchen far more than you know.

                                                                      1. re: THewat

                                                                        Good to know; I'm honoured. I've been flirting recently with Valrhona Guanaja 72%; haven't yet tried it in baking (it's even more pricey than Felchlin). The taste is really great.

                                                                    2. I have to recommend Alice Medrich's Italian Chocolate-Almond Torte. Couldn't be simpler, with just four ingredients (not counting pinches of salt and cream of tartar), comes together easily, provided you've got a food processor, and has a quite sophisticated flavor.


                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                        Great recipe. It doesn't have any butter in it, so it wouldn't be killingly rich or hypercaloric. Souschef?

                                                                        Ooh there's also a recipe on Serious Eats for Blum's Coffee Crunch cake. Want. We got to SF at the very tail end of Blum's...

                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                          I've made this a lot. My notes say "chop almonds / chocolate quite finely. Rich but not heavy. A little soft whipped cream would be nice."

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            I haven't made it, but it sounds great. Reminds me of another recipe I saw recently, where the nut meringue (without chocolate) is baked in four circles and then layered with mascarpone.