Week 1 Finalists: Your Best Layer Cake

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Recipe 1: Not Red Velvet Cake with Fudge Glaze by Abs

This cake has the wonderful, fluffy texture you get from boxed cake mixes, but with a made-from-scratch flavor they never manage to achieve. Because it doesn't contain any red food coloring, it has a beautiful marbled crumb, and the chocolate glaze is both decadent and great for people who are intimidated by the thought of icing a cake. We also love that the delicate aroma of cocoa in the cake is followed by a wallop of semisweet chocolate in the glaze.


Recipe 2: Lemon Birthday Cake by Eric Liftin

Visually, this cake is a scene-stealer -- a birthday cake that makes a statement. It looks like a giant, sophisticated marshmallow. We were concerned it would be too rich (grand total: 8 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks, 1 1/3 cups of cream and 2 sticks of butter), but miraculously it's not: lemon and rum infuse the batter and give it the character of an English tea cake. The icing is a lightly sweetened meringue scented with vanilla and more lemon. Don't overwhip it as we did, and don't skip the berries, a nod to strawberry shortcake.


The ingredients for Not Red Velvet Cake with Fudge Glaze:

The Ingredients


Merrill cutting parchment to line the pans.


Lining the Pans


Sifting the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, salt.


Egg and Creamed Sugar

After creaming the butter and sugar, we add the eggs to the mixer.


Merrill and Amanda

Watching the pot boil.


Adding Buttermilk

Alternating buttermilk and dry ingredients.


Vinegar and Baking Soda

When you add the white vinegar to the baking soda, it foams up like soda on ice cream.



Pretty, right?


Batter in Pan


Merrill's turn to do the dishes!


Unmolding the Cakes

Merrill set the springform pan on top of an upturned bowl, then she let the rim of the pan drop so she could simply lift off the cake.


The Cakes


The cakes go in the freezer before icing.


Measuring Chocolate

Measuring the semi-sweet chocolate.



Making the fudge glaze, which is really a ganache -- hot cream and chocolate, with a pinch of salt.


Finished Ganache

Fudge Glaze

Glazing the Cake

All you have to do is nudge the glaze to the edges of the cake and let it drip down the sides. Great for non-bakers!


Finished Cake

The End!


The Lemon Birthday Cake ingredients:

The Ingredients


Studying The Recipe

Does it really say 15 eggs?



Zesting lemons for the batter and the icing.


Sugar and Zest

Rubbing the lemon zest into the sugar helps release its fragrance. Feels nice, too!


Separating Eggs




Whisking cream into the batter.


The Batter

The batter is loose enough to use a whisk for adding the flour.


Adding Melted Butter

Whisking in the melted butter.


Pouring the Batter


The Recipe


In the Oven




The Cakes







Ready for Icing


Trimming the Tops

The cakes came out with rounded tops, so Merrill shaved off the domes before icing.


The icing Again




We slightly over-whipped the icing. Argh!


Finishing Touches



The Second Layer


The icing is super easy to work with -- you are its master.


The Lemon Layer Cake