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How to Bake a Cake

Types of Cakes

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Here are some cake recipes from our collection:

Cake recipes are divided into two categories according to what makes the cake rise. Butter cakes rely primarily on baking powder or baking soda for height. Sponge cakes depend on the air trapped in the eggs during beating.

Butter Cakes include pound cakes and the yellow, white, spice, and chocolate cakes used
in everything from towering wedding cakes to traditional layered birthday cakes. These cakes use butter, shortening, or oil for moistness and richness and are leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda.

TIP: Before mixing the cake batter, soften the butter so that it mixes easily with the sugar.

This two-layer Burnt Sugar Cake recipe is a beautiful example of a butter cake.
This is a beautiful example
of a butter cake.

Sponge Cakes achieve their high volume from beaten eggs rather than a leavening agent like baking powder. Sponge cakes do not contain butter, shortening, or oil. Angel food cakes are the most popular and are literally fat-free since they use only egg whites, not egg yolks. Yellow sponge cakes are prepared with whole eggs. Chiffon cakes are also lightened with beaten eggs, but they are not true sponge cakes because they contain vegetable oil.

Angel Food Cake is the most popular variety of sponge cake.
Angel food cake is the most popular
variety of sponge cake.

TIP: When preparing sponge cakes, be sure to beat the eggs to the proper stage; do not overbeat or underbeat. Handle the beaten eggs gently when folding them into the other ingredients or they will lose air and volume.

Eggs separate more easily when cold, but egg whites reach their fullest volume if allowed to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before beating. Plan ahead!

The baking pan you select can affect a cake recipe. Learn more about baking pans in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Cake Recipes: Find basic cake recipes as well as ideas for types of cakes you may have never even heard of, all on our Cake Recipes page.
  • Cake Decorating: Whether you just want to add "Happy Birthday" in piped icing or are ready to attempt a field of frosting flowers, this article will provide the cake decorating tips you need.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.