The Most Beautiful Cakes We're Planning to Bake in 2018
With the start of the New Year comes our annual declaration of ambitious resolutions for the coming months that will help make it the best year yet. While for some that means hitting the gym or starting a new diet, we’re thinking a little more on the fun side this year. Since we’ve basically never met a cake we didn’t like better than going to the gym, we’ve decided to test our Southern baking prowess by baking our most beautiful, delicious cakes yet. From jaw-dropping layered masterpieces to mouthwatering glazed Bundts, these cakes might differ in style and flavor, but they all have one thing in common: they are downright gorgeous—and taste just as good as they look. These cakes will be instant hits with your crowd whether served at birthday dinners, wedding parties, or holiday celebrations. From perfectly honed classics to brand-new showstoppers, these are the cakes we’re baking in 2018.
Butter Toffee-Pecan Layer Cake
Recipe: Butter Toffee-Pecan Layer Cake
A creamy toffee frosting topped with toasted pecans and sea salt makes this buttery cake look pretty as a picture, and it’s at the top of our list to bake this year. Chopped pecans and toffee bits stud the cake layers, and browned butter lends a special touch to the frosting.
Caramel Apple Cake
Recipe: Caramel Apple Cake
We dare you to think up a more stunning cake than this cascading beauty. The flavors are perfect for fall, but there’s no reason not to make it for a spring holiday or occasion, such as Easter. Sautéed apple slices are artfully arranged on top of the slightly spiced cake and then drizzled with a heavenly Apple Brandy-Caramel Sauce.
Recipe: Orange Cake
This citrus cake makes for an amazing spring or summer dessert to brighten any table, and we can’t wait to savor the zingy glaze topped with candied orange zest for extra flair. Folding egg whites into the cake batter ensures a fluffy, moist cake.
Sea Salt-Caramel Cake
Recipe: Sea Salt-Caramel Cake
It just so happens that the same thing that makes this cake so supremely beautiful is also what makes it so dang tasty: the rich caramel frosting. The sweetness is cut perfectly with sprinkles of flaky sea salt. Think of this recipe as the fresh and new Southern caramel cake that cannot be beat.
Brown Sugar-Bourbon Bundt
Recipe: Brown Sugar-Bourbon Bundt
This slightly boozy vanilla cake is a showstopper on any table, and we thank our favorite fancy Bundt pan for that! This year, we’re using this cake to impress at our best parties. Vanilla bean paste, bourbon (a half cup!), and light brown sugar combine for a delicious palette, while a sprinkling of powdered sugar and candied oranges finishes off the look.
Coconut Chiffon Cake
Recipe: Coconut Chiffon Cake
This legendary Southern cake should always be on the baking agenda each year, and this beautiful, sky-high version takes the cake (literally). A Coconut-Mascarpone Filling and White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting make the accouterments their own works of art, while coconut-doused layers make sure the inside gives you the most flavor.
Mama's German Chocolate Cake
Recipe: Mama's German Chocolate Cake
People shy away from this chocolate masterpiece of a cake because it looks a little more complicated than your average Bundt or even layer cake, but 2018 is the year to take it on! We’re going to make this perfect, Mama-approved cake and indulge in its fluffy German chocolate cake layers and rich coconut-pecan frosting.
Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake
Recipe: Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake
This cake has a rustic charm about it that we love for fall and winter especially. An extra fluffy Mascarpone Frosting and drizzly Apple Cider Caramel Sauce make the top of this cake statuesque and showstopping.
Red Velvet Marble Bundt Cake
Recipe: Red Velvet Marble Bundt Cake
Red velvet lovers rejoice! This Bundt cake makes it easy to get that ruby red, delicious touch without quite as much hassle. We’re making this cake year round, though it makes a festive choice for Valentine’s Day or the holidays. The swirled inside tastes even better than it looks.
Triple-Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake
This rich chocolate pound cake is as easy on the eye as the taste buds. Two contrasting glazes—a sweet chocolate glaze and a tangy buttermilk glaze—layer smoothly over the top, while cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, and espresso powder give the pound cake its decadent flavor.
Lemon-Vanilla Pound Cake with Lavender Glaze
Take your pound cakes to the next level this year, starting with this fresh cake made with vanilla bean paste, lemon zest and juice, and sour cream. The real standout is the mellow Lavender Glaze drizzled on top, which complements the vanilla and citrus notes perfectly. Inside and out, this cake is a worthy addition to your spring and summer dessert lineup.
Fresh Strawberry Meringue Cake
Recipe: Fresh Strawberry Meringue Cake
This heavenly, layered cake makes the best of in-season strawberries, creamy mascarpone, toasted pecans, and crunchy meringue layers for a celebration of flavors and textures that will make up the fresh and beautiful dessert you need this spring and summer.
Triple-Layer Chocolate-Caramel Cake
The real star of this three-tiered chocolate dream is the Chocolate-Caramel Ganache that you can enhance with a splash of bourbon (or not!). It gives a texture and look that’s different than a traditional frosting, making this cake super festive and great for birthdays or special occasions!
White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake
Recipe: White Chocolate Poinsettia Cake
This layer cake can be your most elevated presentation of the year; and if you have a formal holiday or wedding event, this is most definitely the cake to pick! White chocolate steals the show in three different ways—the moist cake layers, smooth mousse, and delicious buttercream—while petal-shaped cookies crown the top with an elegant poinsettia.
Spiced Caramel Bundt Cake
This sophisticated confection boasts a lovely spiced flavor, courtesy of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and a golden caramel glaze that will be a hit at any occasion. It takes only 13 minutes of hands-on time, making it incredibly easy to whip up for an instant success.
Red Velvet Cheesecake-Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Whip this stunningly delicious cake out at your holiday feasts, wedding parties, or most special events to wow the crowd with its supreme presentation and amazing flavors. It’s unique with two layers of creamy red velvet cheesecake and moist vanilla cake in the middle, blanketed in a traditional cream cheese frosting.
Plum-Berry Cornmeal Sheet Cake
Recipe: Plum-Berry Cornmeal Sheet Cake
This sheet cake is quick, easy, and festive with its fresh berries and plums. The vanilla-based cornmeal batter lends a perfect not-too-sweet start to this dessert that we love to top with homemade whipped cream or ice cream. It works for brunch and supper just as well!
The Ultimate Carrot Cake
Recipe: The Ultimate Carrot Cake
A carrot cake is the perfect dessert to have in your arsenal that looks great and tastes great for pretty much any occasion. The traditional, pecan-studded layers are covered with a special Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrot Curls.
Chocolate-Mint Whipped Cream Cake
We published this vintage recipe in 1990; but if you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a lovely treat. Rich chocolate cake layers are alternated with a fluffy mint whipped cream filling, while marbled chocolate curls make the cake a little more fancy.
Recipe: Lane Cake
This Southern cake took the stage at a county fair baking competition in Georgia more than 100 years ago, and its bourbon-spiked layers are studded with raisins, pecans, and coconut. It’s a cake that everyone loves, even if they don’t know what all is in it!
Lemon Cheese Layer Cake
Recipe: Lemon Cheese Layer Cake
This nostalgic classic deserves a second look in 2018, and we think this layer cake recipe should be your first try of the New Year. Inside, you'll find soft cake layers sandwiching rich, buttery lemon curd. Outside, the cake is frosted in a creamy Lemon-Orange Buttercream Frosting that looks and tastes positively divine.
Recipe: Chocolate-Praline Cake
Be warned: This cake is the richest of the rich, with a praline frosting that is both incredibly delicious and unique. But quite worth it! To keep the cake smooth, the layers are spread with thin chocolate ganache.
Rum-Glazed Sweet Potato Cakes
Recipe: Rum-Glazed Sweet Potato Cakes
These mini Bundts are a wonderful addition to any dinner or holiday feast. Made with pureed sweet potatoes, raisins, rum, cinnamon, and nutmeg, these rum-soaked treats are a crowd favorite.
Hummingbird Bundt Cake
Recipe: Hummingbird Bundt Cake
This spin on the classic Southern cake is high on our to-do list because of its relative ease and fuss-free hands-on time compared to a layer cake. You get all of the amazing flavor of the crushed pineapple, bananas, cinnamon, and pecans with a tangy cream cheese glaze—but in a pretty Bundt form!