Cakes are made to mark moments in our lives—birthday parties, graduations, retirement dinners, and even unassuming weeknight evenings that call for a little added joy. They allow people express love through sweet layers and whipped icing without saying any words at all.
For this reason, we believe every cake has a story and memory attached to it. Whether it’s mom’s red velvet or your carrot cake that makes neighbors swoon every spring, we want you to share a slice through our Recipe Project. We may just have it professionally photographed, tested and featured in the pages of Relish.
Need inspiration? Below are some reader submissions we adore. Click the images for the recipes.
This is my life-long birthday cake choice. Years ago, when we were on a commercial fishing boat on my birthday, my brother (who was about 10 at the time) undertook to make my favorite cake. While I was asleep in my bunk, he rattled around in the small galley and managed to bake a cake in the oil-fired stove. What an accomplishment. He proudly served it up, and upon taking a bite, we discovered that he used a cup of coffee grounds in place of a cup of strong (brewed) coffee! Needless to say, it was a memorable, eye-opening birthday cake! While not as moist as we were used to, one bite delivered quite a jolt of caffeine! Today, I like to add a couple teaspoons of cinnamon to the frosting, which complements the rich chocolatey taste of the cake. And we often serve it with raspberries on the side.
—Chantel Gardner, Bellingham, Wash.
This is a recipe for Chocolate Pecan Angel Food Cake. My mother, who was born in 1910, made this cake for my birthdays in the 1950s and early 1960s. It was my favorite cake when I was growing up. She contributed the recipe to a ladies’ aide church group cookbook.
—Janet Reid, Upland, Calif.
This is just called The Birthday Cake. This cake was my friend’s Frieda Tew’s recipe. The cake magically appeared each year on the appropriate day for her family. Secured in a round aluminum “cake taker,” it traveled by bus with Frieda from Winona, Minn., to Minneapolis, Minn., and Cumberland, Wis. She made this for me even though I wasn’t family. Frieda died in the early 2000’s. I made her cake in the summer of 2005. Frieda said the frosting is only good if beaten with a hand beater (eggbeater), but I, of course, used a mixer. After the 7 minutes of beating, I turned the mixer off and set it down. I then took the pan of frosting across the kitchen about 3 feet away from the mixer. Suddenly the mixer started on its own and splattered sticky white frosting all over the kitchen. I believe this was a “heavenly” reminder from Frieda that I was to have beaten the frosting with a hand beater. Thank you, Frieda, for the memories.
—Diana Cyert, Winona, Minn.
This recipe has been a family favorite since the early 1940s. My parents lived on a farm in Kansas and my mother was featured on the cover of a magazine, Successful Farming, during the Depression years. Making homemade recipes helped with the cost of meal preparation along with very large gardens and canning. If you like you can use applesauce in place of the shortening and adding 1 extra tablespoon of flour. You can also use 1/4 cup shortening and 1/4 cup applesauce, and the flavor and texture is the same, but less fat.
—Michael and Patti Goehring
The following recipe for “Daffodil Cake” was one that my mother made especially for Easter. Its white and yellow colors look so like spring. My mother would decorate the cake with daisies made from marshmallows cut with kitchen shears and a yellow gumdrop for the center. My daughter now makes the same cake every year for Easter; it has become her tradition.
—Carol Crichley, Lewisburg, Pa.