14 Classic Cake Recipes to Take Any Gathering to the Next Level

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting
Photo: Kritsada Panichgul

For a versatile dessert that's sure to please, try one of our classic cake recipes. With traditional yellow cake, German chocolate cake, classic carrot cake recipes, and more, we've got a treat that will make every special occasion even sweeter!

01 of 14

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake Recipe on a Silver Cake stand with a slice cut out. Carrot ribbons on top.
Waterbury Publications

Why fussy-up an already great thing? We dig the simplicity of this carrot cake that's exactly that—no nuts, no pineapple, no raisins; just the freshest carrots and a few baking staples. Three full cups of the shredded veggie provide irresistible texture and moistness to this classic carrot cake recipe. Top the carrot cake with an easy homemade cream cheese frosting and you have the ultimate spring dessert.

02 of 14

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting
Kritsada Panichgul

With basic ingredients and just 20 minutes of prep, this is about to become your go-to birthday cake base. Start by mixing up the vanilla-scented batter for the classic yellow cake recipe, then bake it into cupcakes, a layer cake, or a sheet cake with the simple swap of a pan. Frost and decorate as desired, and prepare to get the party started.

Buy It: Made By Design Bakeware Set ($30, Target)

03 of 14

Best-Ever Chocolate Cake

Best-Ever Chocolate Cake
Blaine Moats

Make any party even sweeter by adding our ultimate classic chocolate cake recipe to the menu. Moist and uber-rich, the dessert gets its decadent dark chocolate flavor from a cocoa-flavored cake and chocolate-sour cream frosting. The frosted cake itself tastes incredible, but once you pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it's maybe the best ever!

04 of 14

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake
Con Poulos

Red velvet cake, the luxurious chocolate-flavored treat traditionally topped with cream cheese frosting, gets its red hue from food coloring. Buttermilk makes this classic birthday cake batter extra light and fluffy.

05 of 14

White Cake

White Cake slices on white background
Jason Donnelly

Our classic white cake recipe stands out from the dessert competition due to its use of egg whites instead of whole eggs for lightness. Want the cake to be really white? Opt for shortening instead of butter and use clear vanilla instead of brown-tinted vanilla extract.

Buy It: Watkins Clear Vanilla Extract ($9, Amazon)

06 of 14

Devil's Food Cake with Fudge-Nut Frosting

Devil’s Food Cake with Fudge-Nut Frosting
Carson Downing

Enticingly airy, devil's food cake is a chocolate-lover's dream. The rich dessert is darker and fluffier than its traditional chocolate cake counterpart, thanks to a bit of extra baking soda in the batter. We take this lovely layer cake over the top with either homemade cream cheese-fudge or fudge-nut frosting—you can't go wrong.

07 of 14

Classic Coconut Cake with Frosting

Classic Coconut Cake
Kritsada Panichgul

Whole milk and sifted cake flour make the batter for this classic cake recipe light yet rich all at once. Fresh coconut flakes sprinkled over the frosting make for a pretty presentation. One BH&G home baker says, "I took this to my girlfriend's birthday. She confided it was so much better than the one her husband makes each year." Shh ... that will be our little secret!

Test Kitchen Tip: If desired, any extra coconut water can be used as a replacement for part of the milk.

08 of 14

Champagne Cake with Fresh Strawberries

Champagne Cake with Fresh Strawberries
Jason Donnelly

Pop a bottle and elevate packaged white cake mix with some bubbly! This simple champagne cake recipe calls for just five ingredients yet results in a tasty, celebratory cake complete with a topping of fresh strawberries and vanilla frosting. (Don't want to tint the frosting with dye? Try our natural food coloring ideas.)

09 of 14

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake
Peter Krumhardt

Surprise! This isn't actually a German dessert recipe at all—it's named after Sam German, who developed a sweet baking chocolate for Baker's Chocolate Company of Boston in the mid-1800s. Four ounces of sweet baking chocolate is melted down into the batter of the cake, baked into two layers, then slathered in a rich and nutty coconut-pecan frosting.

10 of 14

Classic Pound Cake

Classic Pound Cake
Andy Lyons

Deliciously dense with a velvety, fine crumb, this perfect pound cake recipe uses simple ingredients yet tastes worthy of display in a fancy bakery case. Our rendition calls for cake flour for a lighter texture, but all-purpose flour can be used if you don't have or can't find cake flour.

Buy It: King Arthur Cake Flour ($4, Target)

11 of 14

Heavenly Angel Food Cake

Heavenly Angel Food Cake
Greg Scheidemann

With just six ingredients, you can create a treat so delightful and vanilla-y, you'll think it was sent from heaven. Prepare this classic angel food cake recipe as is for a light-as-a-cloud indulgence. Or if you're craving chocolate, melt 6 ounces of dark chocolate with 4 tablespoons of butter (here are three ways to melt chocolate perfectly) and shower the mixture over the cooled cake for a quick and easy glaze.

12 of 14

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake
Kritsada Panichgul

You might just feel transported to a booth at a Big Apple restaurant once you take a bite of this luscious New York-style cheesecake recipe. A graham cracker crust flavored with a pinch of cinnamon cradles the dessert, and the filling features cream cheese and sour cream for a supremely silky cake. If you're the prep-ahead type, the whole cheesecake can be made up to 1 month in advance and frozen until you're ready to thaw and enjoy.

13 of 14

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake
Scott Little

Anytime you're in the mood for some fall comfort, stir together this classic cake. It's warmly spiced with all of the elements you know and love from the pumpkin spice java drink (or a boxed spice cake mix). Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger are all invited to the party, as is a half cup of canned pumpkin to lend extra flavor and moistness. Frost with your favorite homemade or store-bought cream cheese frosting and you'll certainly squash your cravings.

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Lemon-Poppy Seed Dump Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Dump Cake
Andy Lyons

Lemon-poppy seed bread is good, but we think this sweeter classic cake recipe is even better. A bit more sugar makes it just sweet enough. About 20 minutes of prep and the batter is ready to go into your slow cooker.

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