Cake

31 Fall Cakes We Can't Wait to Bake, Starting...Right Now

And then eat while wrapped in a blanket, watching Netflix.

September 30, 2021
Photo by Jenny Huang

I checked your schedule for next weekend, and it's full of cake. Don't fight it! There's truly nothing cozier than a fall baking project.

Just imagine: you, in a soft sweater, protected by an apron because you think ahead like that. Endless whisks to lick (someone's got to make sure the batter isn't poisoned!). Say you have to pop out to the corner shop to pick up a forgotten frosting ingredient—that warm wall of scent you'll hit you when you walk back in the front door.

The only question is, which cake should you make?


Spice Cakes

1. Date Snacking Cake With Brown Sugar Glaze

There are a lot of things to wonder about this cake...like, why is it so delicious? Why is it so easy? And why are we not topping all of our fall cakes with a brown sugar glaze? While you ponder these questions, start poaching the dried pitted dates and get baking!

2. Gingery Spice Cake

Ground and crystallized ginger team up for this extra-spicy fall cake recipe that gets even more warmth from complementary spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg.

3. Cardamom Cake From Niloufer Ichaporia King

“When The Guardian asked Alice Waters for the one recipe she couldn't live without, it was this simple, unforgettable cake with a crackly top and fluffed cardamom crumb from Niloufer Ichaporia King,” says our Test Kitchen editors.

4. Sweet Potato Cake With Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

Normally we think of sweet potatoes and marshmallows in the form of a pie or casserole for Thanksgiving dinner. But who said it can’t be a fall cake too? We’re all for this crowd-friendly sheet cake that may just bump your relative’s beloved pie to second place.

5. Apple Dump Cake

Ignore the word “dump” in this cake recipe and embrace the easy, breezy spirit of a one-skillet wonder made with boxed cake mix (hey, we’re not above it!).

6. Cinnamon-Anise Snack Cake

Cinnamon, anise extra, orange zest, vanilla extract—sounds like the makings of the perfect holiday-scented candle to me! While you won’t see this on the shelves of Bath and Body Works anytime soon (or maybe you will!), it makes a fabulous combination for an easy fall snacking cake.

7. One-Bowl Chocolate & Orange Sponge Cake

Chocolate and orange can be a divisive combination, but if you’re in favor of it, this light sponge cake is for you. The batter calls for both orange zest and orange extract; it’s baked into four cakes, which are then stacked and layered with a fudgy chocolate frosting.

8. Carrot Cake with Cardamom

Cardamom adds warmth to this classic carrot cake, blanketed in a cream cheese frosting.

9. Heavenly Apple Cake

The name sort of says it all, except for this part: "It stays fresh and gooey for days (that is if there's any left) and it's really very simple." That there's from the headnote.

10. Vermont Spice Pumpkin Cake

"This tender and moist cake is exactly what I want to eat in fall weather," writes its creator, Posie Brien. "Pumpkin and evaporated milk give it a delicate crumb, and lots of warm spices add layers of flavor."

11. Whole Orange Bundt Cake with Five-Spice Streusel

A fall bundt cake with a marmalade-like flavor, plus lots and lots of spice. Oh, and there's an orange-vanilla glaze.

12. Coriander Seed Bundt Cake

This good-looking bundt gets body from bright, citrusy coriander seed.

13. Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Here's an especially velvety sweet potato cake recipe that calls in white rice flour to keep things free of gluten.


Chocolate Cakes

14. Ian Knauer’s Chocolate Eggplant Cakes

These fudgy chocolate cakes call in eggplant—a riff on applesauce cake—for the sort of gooey center you'll think about for days after.

15. Rich Chocolate Cake with Coconut Filling & Ganache

"My friends often request the Hyde Park Fudge Cake for their birthdays, which I've made a hundred times," writes recipe creator nannydeb. "This variation has a yummy coconut filling and a decadent ganache that I could eat with a spoon until I'm sick!"

16. Perfect Chocolate Cake

Meet the Hershey cake's slightly more sophisticated cousin. Think: great in any layered situation, and always invited to a birthday party.

17. Chocolate Cake with Tahini Buttercream Frosting

A rich, chocolatey cake paired with nutty tahini buttercream and toasted sesame seeds—good luck sharing.

18. Margaret Fox's Amazon Chocolate Cake

"Meet your new go-to birthday cake, bake sale cake, dinner party cake, late night snack cake," wrote Kristen Miglore, when she anointed this recipe Genius. "For when the fridge is at its barest and you need chocolate cake now."


Layer Cakes

19. Funfetti Cake

Molly Yeh's funfetti cake tastes like childhood birthday parties in the best possible way. Use the brightest sprinkles you can get your hands on.

20. Chocolate Roulade

This chocolate roulade recipe, frosted with whipped cream, can be used for a traditional shape, or a vertical roll for a twist.

21. Grown-Up Birthday Cake

This yellow layer cake swaps in white wine and olive oil for more staid cake ingredients, and is 100x the better for it.

22. 1-2-3-4 Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

Good luck forgetting the formula for this simple 1-2-3-4 cake...

23. Butter-Toasted-Walnut Layer Cake

This decadent layer cake starts with nuts toasted in melted butter, which is exactly as good as it sounds.


Fruit-Forward Cakes

24. Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake

When you flip this cast iron–skillet cake, you'll uncover a crown of caramelized bananas.

25. Pear & Almond Cake

What to do with perfectly ripe pears? Look no further.

26. Teddie's Apple Cake

This Genius apple cake's our go-to for so many reasons. Like that it's just as good for dessert as it is for breakfast, or that you can swap in any dried fruit that you prefer.

27. Ricotta-Rosemary Cake With Fresh Figs

An effortlessly cool single-layer cake, topped with fresh figs, whipped cream, and rosemary sugar.

28. Marian Burros' Plum Torte

This iconic plum cake is equal parts buttery and juicy.


Fall Cake Recipes in Under Two Hours

29. Food Processor Pound Cake (& Variations)

"I was impressed by the simplicity of this can't-possibly-fail poundcake that's made with hot melted butter in a food processor," says Alice Medrich, who shares six brilliant twists on the original.

30. Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

Make our co-founder Merrill Stubbs' applesauce cake with caramel glaze, and win at fall.

31. Buckwheat & Apple Cake (Schwarzplententorte)

This simple cake from Emiko Davies brings together buckwheat, apple, and almond meal for a perfect fall treat.

What cake will you bake this weekend? (No cake is not an acceptable answer!) Let us know in the comments.
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The Magical Mini Guide
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    PLBeaver
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    NYCookiestorm
  • Lauren B
    Lauren B
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    belfman
  • Diana
    Diana
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.

16 Comments

PLBeaver October 22, 2021
Between reading this and watching The Great British Baking Show. It’s time to drag out that mixer and bake! I’m starting with the easy ready-to-eat versions first only because I’m drooling and want to eat cake NOW! These recipes are fabulous! You can make a comfort cake or a very decorative one. The ingredients sound delicious! Can’t wait to start!!
 
NYCookiestorm October 13, 2019
Mmmmmm. Make this almond torte in the cuisinart and top with ganache. It comes together in a few minutes, no mess. Plus it is maybe the best cake you’ll ever eat.... https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/almond-torte-recipe/
 
Lauren B. October 11, 2019
Oh! And what is the usual fall cake here? My father in law’s HONEY CAKE! In a week and a half I already made 5! And I used his Miracle Pot - you can bake it right on top of the stove which is great if everybody needs to use the oven at the same time.
 
Lauren B. October 11, 2019
I always make the Marian Burros cake but I prefer to slice the fruit thinly and place it in concentric circles. Looks more like those expensive cakes you see in the windows of upper east side eateries that I'll never get into...the BIG problem is which other recipe shall I try NEXT??? Can’t decide....
 
belfman September 29, 2019
I always make Chocolate Chip Pumpkin cake that I got from the Creme d’Colorado cookbook. It is pumpkin sheet cake in the cookbook and makes a big pan. I always add a 3/4 cup of Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips. This is my kid’s favorite and I don’t make it until after the Fall equinox.
 
SophieL October 3, 2021
Thanks for the reminder about the Creme de Colorado cookbook! I looked up your cake and hand-wrote in the 3/4 cup bittersweet chovolate chip addition. I'll highly recommend the Macadamia Nut Bars in this section.
 
Diana October 11, 2018
My go- to cake, which I make at least 1x a week, is a French yogurt cake. 2 eggs, 1c sugar, 1/2c oil or melted butter, 3-4 c whole milk yogurt. 1 1/2c flour, 2 t BP, 1/2 t salt. Vanilla plus whatever extra flavor you like. You know what to do- 350 degrees, 50 min, clean toothpick, etc. Almond flavor plus sliced blanched almonds on top. Throw in a whole lemon, whizzed up in the cuisinart, with a tart lemon glaze on top. Reserve 1/4 batter and throw in 1 T cocoa powder and 2 t corn syrup. Swirl onto white batter for marble cake. Use 2 T frozen orange juice concentrate in batter and orange glaze on top. Add 1/2 tsp cardamom to batter, pour into square pan. Cover w sliced pears and sprinkle w lemon juice and sugar/cardamom mix. Or apples. Or persimmons. You get the idea.
 
Sharon October 12, 2018
I’m sorry what is BP?
 
Diana October 12, 2018
Baking powder. Try this cake. I hope you’ll be as surprisingly pleased as I was when I first started playing around with it.
 
Ginger October 28, 2018
Sounds really good but is that supposed to be 3-4C. whole milk yogurt or is it supposed to be 3/4 C. (big difference) Also no baking soda? Often with things like sour cream they will have BP and soda.
 
Diana October 28, 2018
sorry for the typo, i did it on my phone it's 3/4C yogurt. i know about the baking soda but i do it with just the BP and it comes out fine if you experiment with maybe 1/2 tsp soda and 1 1/2 tsp BP let me know if you think it's better.
 
leonie S. October 8, 2018
Just a question with regard to the ricotta and pear cake - is almond paste the same as marzipan?
 
Sara K. October 11, 2018
Almond paste is about a 1:1 ratio of sugar to ground almonds. where marzipan has a higher sugar ratio - up to a 3:1 sugar to almonds, or 75% sugar.
 
Can I. October 6, 2018
The ultimate fall cake for me is Merrill Stubb's applesauce cake with caramel glaze. It's incredibly simple and delicious and irresistible. This is a dessert that makes guests ask for seconds.
 
Noreen F. October 4, 2018
When the weather gets cool, I start to crave gingerbread!
 
Author Comment
Ella Q. October 5, 2018
Mm, yes! And gingersnap cookies.