Whether you’re a casual baker or a pastry obsessive—or somewhere deliciously in-between—the holidays are a perfect time to step up your game a notch. In a season where everything around you is essentially a variation of a shiny object, it’s worthwhile to invest some time preparing a dessert that will absolutely knock everyone’s socks off.
We’ve gathered a trio of exceptional cakes that are worthy to make for a special occasion. They’re beautiful, they’re delicious, and they’re designed for a baker’s success.
Way Easier Than It Looks:
Why This Cake Looks So Cool: Trifles always look festive and extravagant, but assembling it is really just a matter of simple layering. Working one tier at a time, we line the outside of the dish by alternating decorative half-moons of gingerbread with pear fans. After the outside elements are in place, we fill the interior of the trifle with a single layer of gingerbread scraps, a layer of chopped pears, and then finally a layer of custard spread evenly to the outside of the dish. The finished trifle should have a total of three layers, with whipped cream replacing the custard on the very top.
Why This Cake Looks So Cool: This is one of those cutaway cakes that will drop jaws with its hidden layers of cake and ice cream underneath the meringue. To assemble it, we use a serrated knife to slice the cooled cake crosswise into 18 strips and then essentially cut-and-paste the strips along the sides and bottom of the plastic wrap–lined bowl. After filling it with ice cream, we cover the top of the mold with the remaining cake strips. This simple method requires no complicated template; we just pack the strips close together to properly insulate the ice cream from the oven’s high heat. The thick coating of meringue hides the chinks in the cake from view.
YULE LOG CAKE
Why This Cake Looks So Cool: It’s a chocolate-covered tree stump filled with coffee-flavored mascarpone cream that’s adorned with meringue mushrooms and dusted with “snow.” Case closed.