Bake the Book: Vintage Cakes

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[Photograph: Erin Kunkel]

When thinking of dessert, cake is usually the first thing that comes to mind. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries; any occasion worth celebrating usually calls for cake. Cupcakes and pie are all well and good, but bringing out a big, fat, frosted cake never fails to cause ripples of excitement.

That's been the case for years, and it's made wonderfully evident in Vintage Cakes. Julie Richardson has compiled classic recipes for roll cakes, icebox cakes, layer cakes, and more, into one lovely little volume. Don't let the curly script of the title fool you—this is a serious tour through cake history, and Richardson has done her research. Every recipe has a bit of backstory; for example, she explains that carrot cake originally appeared as a steamed spiced pudding in the late 1700s, fell out of fashion, and experienced a resurgence as a proper cake in the 1930s. Dessert nerds, take notice.

Besides the full-color photos (some of which are helpfully used as instructions), there are tips and explanations given for ingredients, from cocoa powder brand suggestions to a tip on warming dairy ingredients in bowls of warm water. There's also an entire chapter on fillings, frostings, and icings, which, let's be honest, is everyone's favorite part.

Nearly everybody has pleasant memories associated with eating and sharing cake, and it's our intention to help you make more. We'll be kicking off this feature with Ozark Pudding Cake, which is a "hasty cake", so named for its one-bowl assembly and baking in a cast-iron skillet. Next is a delectable Lemon Streamliner Cake, and lastly, a truly stunning Gingerbread Icebox Cake with mascarpone mousse. Never has a holiday cake been more loosely named or more desirable.

Come with us for a little bit of history, and a lotta bit of sweetness.

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at Ten Speed Press, we are giving away five (5) copies of Vintage Cakes this week.

All you have to do is name your favorite cake (and frosting!) in the comments section below.

The standard Serious Eats contest rules apply.

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