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Cake contest ideas?

What type of cake would you make that would be a winner for a large crowd?

We're having a cake contest at work, and I'm having trouble deciding which of my favorites to make. I'm guessing there will be lots of chocolate entries, but that doesn't mean I won't do chocolate.

I think there might be interest in seasonal, which mostly means apples here! Pumpkins are just starting to catch on here in Denmark, and I'm pretty sure most wouldn't be impressed.

Any ideas?

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  1. Why not do pumpkin? Personally not a fan of pumpkin but easy to do in a layer cake. I'd do a sweet potato layer cake with Vanilla bean buttercream. It's also seasonal.

    1. I'm partial to the multi layer, flavor and texture type of cakes myself. As opposed to 2-4 slices of chocolate cake with frosting in between and covering.

      Maybe a crunchy base (cookie, biscuit, meringue, chocolate with Rice Krispies, etc), soft layer, cake layer, fruity layer, then cake layer. Then covered in something

      Just a thought ;) didn't really give you any flavors, just an idea of combination that others may not try.

      1. Sweet potato poundcake is delicious but maybe not visually striking enough for a contest, unless you are allowed to serve it toasted, with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel, butterscotch, or maple syrup.

        Do Danes know about carrot cake or its cousin, Hummingbird cake? Those are my favorites, the carrot in the version that includes pineapple, walnuts, coconut, and sultanas. The Hummingbird cake is banana cake with pineapple, pecans or walnuts, and coconut. These can be done in sheet pans or as layer cakes. Both have cream cheese frosting.

        1 Reply
        1. re: greygarious

          They do eat carrot cake here, but I don't think I've ever seen hummingbird. Good ideas, thanks!

        2. Cheesecake would stand out in the crowd. Is that allowed? Maybe pumpkin cheesecake.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ninrn

            I think cheesecake would be great, but probably not pumpkin. So far I haven't found many people here that like pumpkin, and we don't get the small sweet ones anyway.

          2. how much work do you feel like doing? an entremet could be impressive... some ideas... http://www.valrhonaprofessionals.com/...

            4 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              This is just the kind of cake I envisioned making. I'm willing to go all out to strut my stuff for my colleagues ;-)

              1. re: Emme

                I love the idea of the Caramelia PBJ since PBJ is so typically American (I assume OP is American--apologies for the assumption, if not) and this looks like such a sophisticated cake.

                Along the "typical' American idea, you could do a caramelized apple upside down cake:


                1. re: chowser

                  During my first 10 years or so living here, I kept trying different "American" type of recipes on friends and colleagues, because I love when people share their own traditions with me, but it never went well and so I gave up. On the other hand, I don't try to make Danish recipes for guests either, as that doesn't go over very well either! So, I'm actually looking for something more neutral, I guess. I've only met 2 that like peanut butter so far--my husband (who has grown to appreciate it) and one other who lived in the US for years as a child.

                  1. re: Transplant_DK

                    So you've been there a while--that's different. I remember making a pb and j when I was in England and my friend couldn't stop talking about it. This was a long time ago, so I don't know if it's changed there.

              2. You could always go with a more sophisticated version of "drømmekage". I know that tends to impress danes.

                Otherwise try seeking inspiration from the "sønderjysk kagebord" tradition :D

                2 Replies
                1. re: SigneGT

                  I'm guessing by your name that you're a Dane! Unfortunately, I've had less than great experiences making recreations of old favorites for guests. I think it's one of those things where people have their own version of how they should be, and they are sure a foreigner wouldn't be able to get it right ;-)

                  1. re: Transplant_DK

                    That i am :) Born and raised.

                    Hmm. You might be right about messing with tradition. In that case i dont think you would be wrong to do chocolate, however that may just be the easy choice.

                2. I'm a fan of Bundt cakes, since they start out with an impressive shape and usually have minimal frosting. The Food Librarian site has dozens of recipes and examples, including a couple of terrific apple cakes. Here's a link, with the label "bundt" preselected (so link shows all bundt recipes, not limited to flavor). You can use the index on the right side to look for other cakes, or just recipes with apple or pumpkin.


                  This Snickerdoodle Bundt was one she featured, and gets rave reviews when I make it.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                    These look yummy, will add them to the list of ones to consider. If not for this, I will definitely try the snickerdoodle soon!

                  2. Here are my go to cakes to impress:
                    Fine cooking pumpkin layer cake with brown butter cream cheese icing with caramelized nuts, pepitas and ginger
                    Tartine's Bavarian cake or his lemon meringue cake
                    Sweetapolita's campfire cake
                    Doris Greenspan's tiramisu cake
                    David Lebovitz's german chocolate cake

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Gloriaa

                      I've made Lebowitz's german chocolate and Greenspan's tiramisu cakes. Both wonderful. Will check the others out as well, thanks!

                    2. Pina Colada Cake. Our version is not exactly like the link...but you get the idea. It's a winner.


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                        Sounds like it would be a yummy and very rich cake! I don't think most of the ingredients are available here tho. Would be fun for a BBQ or something tho, right?

                        1. re: Transplant_DK

                          Right! ~ Would be 'fun' anytime! ~~ Where is here??

                          Edit: OK. I see Denmark now.

                        2. re: Uncle Bob

                          Just noticed the linked recipe doesn't have any Rum in it!! Big Bummer!!! Whatever you pour over the cake ya need to add some Rum. A little in the icing too!! :))

                        3. I can see I didn't phrase that very well--I think I'd want to avoid pumpkin, actually. It's not a familiar taste here and I've heard several friends mention that it tastes odd to them. Also, the pumpkins are all the larger carving ones, so not as good as the small sugar pumpkins that make a cake really good.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Transplant_DK

                            We are very partial to the almond macaroon torte with chocolate frosting from Smitten kitchen. It has a great combination of textures and flavors and is my most requested cake.

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              Thank you! I was in search of a birthday cake recipe I Could make quickly for tomorrow night. I am so excited!

                              1. re: magiesmom

                                This looks really nice, will definitely give it a try. Thanks!

                                1. re: Transplant_DK

                                  I made the cake and liked it but like Deb Perlman I had some issues. The meringue part needs to be a little chewy, wasn't sure how long to bake them. Some parts were a bit crispy, good but made it difficult to eat with a fork. The bigger problem was the frosting, mixing syrup and chocolate did not seem like a good idea and unfortunately it wasn't great. The flavour was good but the consistency was off. Next time I will take the macaron part out a little earlier and will make a ganache with chocolate and cream. I added a little almond liqueur and I thought it added a nice touch. Will definitely make it again.

                            2. It may sound overly simplistic, but I've never gone wrong with a chocolate cake filled/iced with chocolate mousse (chocolate pudding folded with whipped cream or whipped chocolate ganache). Every time I make that everyone devours it. In my experience it's the icing and filling that sets apart a basic cake recipe.

                              Another favorite is red velvet cake, and instead of a classic cream cheese icing, use real whipped cream and whip it with cream cheese. It makes a lighter, less dense cream cheese icing that is delicious.

                              Good luck!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: raelehman

                                Hard to go wrong with a great chocolate cake with a tasty filling and ganache!

                                1. re: Transplant_DK

                                  Maybe include nuts in the filling? My sketchy knowledge of denmark wants to say either hazelnuts or almonds...

                              2. First know the crowd who is judging.... Is everyone from denmark? Is it an international mixed group? There may be a wonderful recipe that you make that is just not appreciated because its too different from their point of reference. Is there a traditional danish cake that would remind natives of grandma? Or is it a group who would love a sweet american cake like a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?

                                1. I would consider a coconut cake. A big, tall coconut cake covered in frosting and shredded coconut. Or a coconut lemon cake, same cake but filled with lemon curd and covered in frosting and coconut. You could toast the coconut for a different look. This coconut almond cream cake looks amazing! http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cocon...

                                  Or for chocolate cakes maybe German Chocolate or Black Forrest.

                                  You can also impress with a cake that not only tastes good but has that wow factor when you look at it. Here are a few sights with "impressive" cakes that may give you inspiration.



                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Jpan99

                                    Jpan you have to stop. no more talk of the lemon coconut cake. I'm sitting in ER and am not home to start one for my beloved. OMGOODNESS I can't say what he'd do, probably marry me again.
                                    thank you so much for posting this, I'll be making it with a joyous heart...

                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                      My birthday is Wednesday. I'm making myself TWO cakes. One chocolate sour cream layer cake and one coconut cake with coconut cream cheese frosting. I don't have time to make homemade lemon curd and I don't like the premade so I'm forgoing the lemon part, it will still be yummy and I'll have two cakes for my birthday!!!

                                  2. If you think humor would garner votes, take a look at http://cakewrecks.squarespace.com . There's also a Cake Wrecks book.

                                    1. tres lecheswith coco nibs on top

                                      1. You could go for top prize in the creative-but-gross category with this Kitty Litter Cake.

                                        1. Boston Cream Pie might throw them a curveball!

                                          1. If you want something fairly simple, but visually impressive, this strawberry custard layer cake always goes over really well.