Photo: Georgia Glynn SmithBy Lynn Andriani
A Sweet with a Serious Wow Factor
Though this dessert looks like a plain white, frosted cake, slicing into it reveals seven Roygbiv-colored layers that will undoubtedly elicit oohs and aahs. The recipe, from Edd Kimber's Say It with Cake, may take a bit more time to prepare than others, but we guarantee you'll be licking the confetti-colored crumbs off the plate.
Get the recipe: Rainbow Cake
Photo: Penny De Los SantosA Reminder That Simplicity Is Divine
Sometimes even a cake that seems uncomplicated has an ingredient list a mile long and directions that make you want to pull your hair out. Not this classic from Jennifer Perillo's Homemade with Love. To make her light and airy layer cake, you add the wet and dry ingredients together all at once, and beat the batter on high speed (two things many pros warn against). Trust Perillo, and you'll be rewarded with a moist, buttery--and can't-go-wrong--meal finale.
Get the recipe: Golden Vanilla Birthday Cake
Photo: Con PoulosThe Most Heavenly Angel Food Cake Ever
Arranging colorful M&M's on top of any cake is one of the fastest ways to instantly transform it into a celebration-worthy dessert. Place those candy-coated chocolates atop fluffy angel food cake that's layered with a mascarpone-cheese-raspberry-jam filling and covered in cream cheese frosting, and you've got one downright amazing birthday treat.
Get the recipe: Angel M&M's Cake
Photo: Heather Christo and Jim HenkinsThe Perfect Pink Confection for a Summer Afternoon
Strawberry buttercream frosting and freshly sliced strawberries sandwiched between two layers of tart lemon cake make for a dessert that tastes remarkably similar to a glass of pink lemonade--and that's just a liiiittle more indulgent. The recipe, from Heather Christo's Generous Table, includes fresh lemon zest, fresh lemon juice and a cup of buttermilk (the acid in the dairy helps tenderize the gluten in the batter, so the cake has a softer texture).
Get the recipe: Strawberry Lemonade Cake
Photo: William AbranowiczCarrot Cake, the Easy Way
God bless Ina Garten: Her version of the sweet and spiced favorite calls for frosting between the layers of the cake but not around the sides, eliminating a step that, for many of us, results in something that looks like a seventh-grade home-ec project. Throw some diced candied ginger on top, and you'll be sure to impress.
Get the recipe: Carrot Cake with Ginger Mascarpone Frosting
Photo: Gentl & HyersThe Red Velvet Cake with a Secret
Rather than let an open bottle of red wine languish on the refrigerator shelf, blogger Deb Perelman, author of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, uses it in place of the usual food coloring in a red velvet cake. The result--a rich, fudgy marriage of chocolate and wine--will leave you hopeful for more leftover Pinot Noir in the near future.
How To Make: serves 16 to 20
• 18 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing
• 2 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 large egg yolk
• 2 1/4 cups red wine
• 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
• 3 cups plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
• 3/8 tsp. baking soda
• 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 3/4 tsp. salt
• 24 ounces cream cheese (three 8-ounce boxes), at room temperature
• 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
To make cake: Preheat oven to 325°. Line the bottom of three 9 round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease parchment and sides of pan. Place butter in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Add brown and granulated sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and yolk and beat until incorporated, then add red wine and vanilla. (Don't worry if the batter looks a little uneven and grainy.)
In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Sift dry mixture over wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold in remaining dry mixture with a rubber spatula.
Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean. The top of each cake should be shiny and smooth. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on a rack. (If cakes have domed a bit and you want even layers, trim tops using a long serrated knife held horizontally.)
To make frosting: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in vanilla, then gradually stir in confectioners' sugar.
To frost cake, place one layer on a cake stand or plate and spread with 1 cup frosting. Repeat with next 2 layers and spread top and sides with remaining frosting.
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Photo: Georgia Glynn SmithBy Lynn Andriani