There are (fortunately!) a million different varieties of cakes there. Whether you love classic cake recipes, seasonal spring cakes, or mouth-watering holiday options (Easter cakes up for grabs!), there’s a cake for everyone. But while you’ve probably thought long and hard about your favorite flavors of cake, what do you know of the different types of cake?
We’re not talking about the types of layer cakes – your standard vanilla, yellow, white, confetti, red velvet, etc. These are categorized under the sweet heading of “butter cake”, so they’re all essentially the same type of cake. Rather, we are talking about all kinds of cakes!
Before we dive deep into cake territory, let’s cover a few basics: cake is essentially a soft, sweet baked product most often made using a combination of flour, butter (or shortening or oil), eggs, sugar and other variable ingredients such as starters (baking powder or baking soda) or flavorings (extracts and other supplements). There are a few cakes that fall outside of this general description – we’re looking at you, cheesecake and ice box cake – but the cake community still considers them members. There is also a whole category of flourless, baked and unbaked cakes!
Bottom line: There’s a whole world of cakes out there. But for now, let’s start by discovering 11 types of cakes that every baker should know. Start reading, then start cooking!
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A twist on sponge cake (more on that below), angel food cake is a naturally fat-free cake that gets its name from its light-as-air composition. Egg whites are whipped with sugar until stiff, then combined with flour, and the result is a sweet white cake with an airy, slightly chewy crumb. Angel food cake is typically baked in a high-sided tube pan; the firm dough clings to the walls as it rises nice and high in the oven. Pro tip: After baking, invert the cake onto an empty wine bottle and let cool.
It’s the cake we all know and love: the broad category includes white, yellow, chocolate and marble cakes, plus everything in between. There are differences within the category (such as using whole eggs or just egg whites), but the structure is essentially the same. Butter cake gets its rich, sturdy texture from butter as well as leavening agents like baking soda or baking powder — the combo results in a strong crumb that can withstand being split, stacked, frosted, and sliced.
Some claim it’s not really a cake, but what is it? Cheesecakes may or may not be baked, depending on the ingredients, but they are most often made in a springform pan, as cheesecakes are delicate and you wouldn’t want to invert them from a standard cake pan. . Many cheesecakes have a graham cracker crust, like our Strawberry Cheesecake, or a cookie crust, like our Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Cheesecake filling is usually made from a combination of cream cheese (or other soft cheese), sugar, eggs, and other mixtures.
Best described as a hybrid oil and sponge cake, the chiffon cake really is the best of all. both: It has the rich and soft crumb of crab and the lightness of sponge cake. The result is a fluffy, light and fluffy cake. Unlike other sponge cakes, chiffon cake often requires a leavening agent in addition to whipped egg whites – both contribute to the cake’s characteristic lightness and eights. The delicate nature of the cake makes it ideal for icing or frosting.
Can you make a cake without flour? Yeah, you bet! These cakes are very delicate, so they are often prepared in springform pans for easy release. Flourless cakes are also often baked in a bain-marie, where the cake pan is placed in a larger pan half-filled with hot water. This insulates the cake and produces a silkier, less porous texture. It also prevents the bottom from burning. Flourless cakes are often very rich due to their high fat content, needed for structure in the absence of flour.
Genoise is the European equivalent of American sponge cake. Whole eggs are whipped with sugar before adding flour; the dough is often then enriched with melted butter, which distinguishes sponge cake from the classic iteration of sponge cakes. This combination of ingredients results in a moist, tender and malleable cake that is usually subtle in flavor. Genoise cake is great for soaking in flavored syrups or rolling into a jelly roll style cake, like our Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake.
Icebox cakes are another sweet treat that defies the basic categorization of cakes. However, for us, if it looks like cake, tastes like cake, and slices like cake… it East a cake! Made by layering cookies with whipped cream, an ice cream cake melts in a few hours in the fridge. The cookies soften, so the final texture is no different from standard frosted layer cakes.
Bread Cakes (aka Quick Breads)
The world’s sweet quick breads (including classics like banana, zucchini, and pumpkin bread) are basically cakes baked in loaf pans, hence the name! Real breads generally require yeast, while quick breads rely on chemical leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda, similar to more traditional cakes. Fruitcakes are another example of a breadcake, although their specialized nickname comes from the fact that they are stuffed with fruits and nuts and then drizzled (or dipped!) in alcohol.
Probably the most popular all-oil cake is the olive oil cake, which is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and has a rich, moist crumb. Oil is a shelf-stable ingredient, unlike butter, which results in cakes that stay fresh longer when stored at room temperature. However, all-oil cakes made with standard cooking oils like vegetable or canola arguably don’t pack the same punch as savory olive oil cakes and all-butter cakes. Some cakes, especially chocolate ones, use a combination of butter and oil because chocolate tends to taste dry when baked.
A timeless classic, the four-quarters is the result of the meeting of the butter cake and the bread cake. Its name comes from its measurements, which were traditionally one pound of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Some pound cakes are leavened with baking powder or baking soda, while others are leavened with egg whites, like sponge cakes. The flavor is sweet and subtle, with a rich, dense crumb thanks to the butter and eggs, and the cake itself is served plain or topped with a glaze or glaze.
Traditional cake recipes are separated into two main categories: shortened (butter) cakes and mousse cakes. The main difference between the two is the fat content. Shortened cakes are made with butter, margarine, oil or shortening, while mousse cakes are made with little or no fat and contain more eggs. The sponge cakes are sparkling cakes! They are soft and springy, and generally do not use chemical leavening agents, relying mostly on whipped eggs or egg whites for their rise. As their name suggests, sponge cakes are ideal for soaking up syrup, both in flavor and texture. Since whipped eggs deflate over time, it is important to put the cake in the oven soon after preparing the batter.
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