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Do unbaked cakes exist?

There are many different types of cakes and many different ways of dividing them into various categories, but professional bakers categorize cakes by ingredients and mixing method. (Home bakers tend to categorize cakes by flavoring—i.e., chocolate cakes, fruit cakes, and so on—which is helpful when you’re trying to decide what to eat, but not as helpful when you’re trying to understand how best to make a cake.) The final texture (and color, depending on whether the cake is yellow or white) will vary depending on how the batter is made. The following is a thorough but not complete list of the fundamental kinds of cakes.

1. Butter Cake

Photo of a classic layer cake recipe vanillabuttermilk layer cake with raspberry filling. Slices and whole cake shown.

Make a layer cake, sheet cake, or even a Homemade wedding cake with this simple buttermilk-raspberry butter cake.

Any cake recipe that starts with “cream butter and sugar” is a butter cake. After the creaming, you add eggs to aerate the batter somewhat, flour (and occasionally another liquid, like as milk) to give it structure and texture, and baking powder or baking soda to guarantee it rises in the oven. Different types of cake batter within the butter cake family include chocolate, white, yellow and marble; for white and yellow cakes coloring typically depends on whether they have whole eggs, or extra egg yolks in them (yellow cake) or egg whites only (white cake).

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2. Pound Cake

After you’ve mastered the fundamental ratio, you can bake whatever flavor of pound cake you choose.

Pound cake is a cousin of butter cake. It gets its name from the fact that it can be measured in pounds: a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs, and a pound of flour. In some pound cake recipes, you’ll see the eggs separated and the egg whites whipped and folded into the batter, to leaven it; in other recipes you’ll find leaveners like baking soda and baking powder, bringing it well into the butter-cake fold. These cakes are often lightly flavored and served plain or with a basic glaze or water icing on top. Typically, pound cake is prepared in a loaf or Bundt pan. Several coffee cakes, sour cream cakes, and fruit crumb cakes are pound cake varieties.

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3. Sponge Cake

This cake has a Meyer lemon curd filling and is served with lavender cream.

Is there a recipe that uses whipped eggs or egg whites instead of baking soda or baking powder? It is a sponge cake, and there are several sorts of sponge cakes. This will be referred to differently depending on where you are.

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4. Genoise Cake

In Italy and France, a sponge cake is called genoise Genoise is made by beating whole eggs with sugar until they’re thick and ribbony, then adding flour (and sometimes butter) and baking the batter; the result is delicious baked in a round cake pan and simply frosted, but genoise is also pliable enough to be baked in a jelly-roll pan and rolled up into a roulade.

Genoise does not have a strong taste of its own, but it is often used to make layered or rolled cakes when a lighter texture than butter cake is needed. To add flavor and moisture, genoise cake layers are always moistened with a flavored syrup, and they are often sliced into thin horizontal layers and stacked with rich fillings such as buttercream. These layer cakes, popular in European coffeehouses, are referred to as “European-style” to differentiate them from American-style butter layer cakes, which have fewer, thicker layers.

Strawberry shortcake on a plate with two slices next to it.

5. Biscuit Cake

Biscuit (always pronounced the French way as bees-kwee) cakes are another type of sponge cake containing both egg whites and yolks, but, unlike genoise, the whites and yolks are whipped separately and then folded back together. This produces a light batter that is drier than genoise but retains its form better after mixing. As a result, it’s often employed for piped forms like ladyfingers. If baked in a tube pan like an angel food cake, it makes a very chewy sponge cake that was popular in the early 20th century but has since fallen out of favor. Yet, it is still recognized as the original Passover sponge cake, in which the flour is substituted with matzoh cake meal and potato starch.

A Charlotte cake surrounded with soft Ladyfinger biscuits.

6. Angel Food Cake

Angel food cakes are constructed entirely of egg whites, with no yolks. The egg whites are beaten with sugar until extremely firm before gently folding in the flour, yielding a snowy-white, light, and delicate cake that pairs nicely with fruit. Because of their high sugar content and lack of egg yolks, most angel food cakes have a spongy, chewy texture. Baked in ungreased two-piece tube pans, angel food cakes are cooled by being inverted, since this type of cake would collapse if cooled right-side-up in the pan or if removed from the pan while still warm. There is also no butter in this recipe, so the cake is low in fat.

Angel food cake on a cake stand with a slice removed.

7. Chiffon Cake

Cardamom, lemon, and rose water perfume this chiffon cake.

This fairly recent American creation was invented by a salesman who sold the recipe to General Mills, which spread the recipe through marketing materials in the 1940s and 1950s. A traditional chiffon cake is a combination between an oil cake and a sponge cake. While it contains baking powder and vegetable oil, the eggs are separated and the whites whipped to soft peaks before being mixed into the batter. This results in a cake with a soft crumb and rich taste similar to an oil cake, but with a lighter texture similar to a sponge cake. Chiffon cakes, like angel food cakes, may be made in tube pans or stacked with fillings and frostings.

Orange Chiffon Cake on a serving platter with white background.

8. Baked Flourless Cake

3ingredient flourless chocolate cake on a plate with a slice removed.  

This flourless chocolate cake just requires three ingredients.

Baked cheesecakes and flourless chocolate cakes are among them. They’re usually baked in a springform pan for easy removal, but they may also be made in normal round layer cake pans. Often the filled pan is placed in a larger pan that’s half-filled with water to insulate the delicate, creamy cake from the oven’s strong bottom heat, which might give the baked cake a porous rather than silky texture. This is referred to as baking the cake in a water bath.

Fallen chocolaet cake topped with whipped cream and mascarpone.

9. Unbaked Flourless Cake

One of our favorite blueberry recipes is this blueberrylemon icebox cake  

Unbaked cakes, such as this one, are called icebox cakes.

These types of cakes are typically molded in a dessert ring or springform pan then simply chilled before unmolding. Unbaked cheesecakes and mousse cakes are among them. They often have a crust or bottom layer that’s baked before the mousse is added. Other layers, like as genoise or biscuit, are sometimes alternated with the mousse.

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10. Carrot Cake

Coconut cake on platter  

The traditional carrot cake is given a coconut twist in this Texas staple.

Carrot cake employs the same leavening techniques as butter cake, but instead of butter, a neutral oil such as vegetable or canola oil is used. As a result, it keeps a bit longer than butter cakes but might occasionally turn out oily. (The procedure is similar: instead of beginning with butter and sugar, you begin with eggs and sugar, then add oil.)

A twolayer carrot cake being sliced and served.

11. Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cake is basically a butter cake, except it is often prepared using oil rather than butter. In addition, cocoa is added to the cake batter to create the distinct red velvet flavor — originally it was a reaction between buttermilk and the raw cocoa widely available at the time of red velvet’s inception that caused a ruddy-hued crumb. These days, they’re usually colored with food coloring. You may have heard of the $200 cake – legend has it that the red velvet cake was invented in the 1920s by a cook at the Waldorf-Astoria. A visitor was so enamored with the cake that she wrote to the cook, requesting the recipe — along with a bill, thus the other moniker. It’s great whatever you name it.

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