The Perfect Cake: Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Classic, Unique, and Modern Cakes for Any Occasion by America's Test Kitchen Editors

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Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Lemon bundt cake

    • TrishaCP on May 25, 2019

      This is a nice cake but I was still searching for the lemon. I limited the vanilla to one teaspoon.

    • hillsboroks on May 03, 2019

      Oops! I think Cooks Illustrated made a typo in this recipe in the quantity of vanilla. It calls for 1 tablespoon vanilla which almost overwhelms the lemon flavor. The exact same recipe is in the Jan.-Feb, 2006 issue of the magazine and in "The Science of Good Cooking". But both of those recipes only call for 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I penciled in the correction in this book and will try the cake again. It is a lovely cake with great texture and I am sure that without the extra vanilla it will be the lemony cake I was after.

  • Chocolate frosting

    • TrishaCP on April 25, 2020

      This is a great frosting that you make in the food processor. I used bittersweet chocolate and it was not too sweet.

  • Bananas Foster cake

    • Analyze on February 06, 2019

      So...this is a really delicious cake! I'm not a fan of bananas foster, but still gave it a try, and enjoyed the cake enough to make it twice. If you DO like bananas foster, I would imagine that this cake would be ridiculously good to you. I used the Cook's Illustrated Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake recipe for the yellow cake layers. The banana-rum-cinnamon caramel filling is delicious. The frosting is great if you like a little booze in your dessert; that's not really my thing (or my husband's), but it's not the cake's fault :) The rum-caramel drizzle is divine, and would be amazing on ice cream. If you're contemplating making this cake because the flavors appeal to you, DO IT! :)

  • Applesauce snack cake

    • Analyze on March 12, 2019

      This is SO good! The base cake has a wonderful apple flavor and a great texture. I tried both this recipe, and the Oat-Nut Streusel variation. My husband, who doesn't normally like oat streusel or sweet quick breads, loved the streusel variation. I actually preferred this original version with the cinnamon-sugar topping, as in my opinion it complements the apple flavor in the cake better, and actually makes the cake taste more apple-y. You can't go wrong with either version, or try half and half like I did :) I already have several apple cake recipes that I love, and didn't think I needed another, but I did! I'm excited to try the ginger-cardamom version next. Personally, we had it for breakfast, but this would be great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream too.

  • Applesauce snack cake with oat-nut streusel

    • Analyze on March 12, 2019

      This is SO good! The base cake has a wonderful apple flavor and a great texture. I tried both this recipe, and the original (no streusel). My husband, who doesn't normally like oat streusel or sweet quick breads, loved the streusel variation. I actually preferred this original version with the cinnamon-sugar topping, as in my opinion it complements the apple flavor in the cake better, and actually makes the cake taste more apple-y. You can't go wrong with either version, or try half and half like I did :) I already have several apple cake recipes that I love, and didn't think I needed another, but I did! I'm excited to try the ginger-cardamom version next. Personally, we had it for breakfast, but this would be great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream too. P.S. A tip I read online and am eager to try next time: Leave the applesauce in the fridge. Instead of waiting for the dried apple & cider mixture to cool, blend them at once, to bring both to room temperature sooner.

  • Boston cream pie

    • stef on June 16, 2019

      The cake is not very high. Only 1.5 cups of flour for 2 9" pans. But the cake is very light and moist. Maybe next time I'll make it in an 8". The pastry cream is a nice firm one that uses flour. It was a great hit. A classic.

    • stef on February 04, 2020

      This time I made it in 8" cake pans for a higher cake.

  • Blueberry boy bait

    • stef on August 08, 2018

      Made recipe almost as written. Had excess sour cream so used half sour cream half milk. Baked in 45 minutes on convection.

  • Summer peach cake

    • stef on September 08, 2019

      This cake is a lot of work but the end result is worth it. A very moist cake with over 2lbs of peaches,

  • Fluffy yellow layer cake

    • stef on August 24, 2019

      This made a very nice moist cake but wasn't as yellow as the picture. I certainly would use the recipe again

  • Yellow cupcakes

    • stef on March 14, 2020

      Very quick to put together and turned out beautifully. I put in 2 drops of yellow food colouring and iced with Stella Parks cream cheese frosting and sprinkles.

  • Simple carrot sheet cake

    • stef on March 28, 2020

      Baked this cake in a 10 cup Bundt for 45 minutes. 6 cupcakes made with leftover batter baked for 20 minutes. A really nice moist cake.

  • Olive oil-yogurt bundt cake

    • stef on May 04, 2019

      A very quick cake to put together. Nice and moist. Doesn't have an olive oil taste. Took ten minutes longer to cook on convection.

  • Foolproof New York cheesecake

    • mamacrumbcake on September 28, 2019

      This cheesecake turned out absolutely perfectly. It is NY style, so it is rich, dense, and velvety. I followed the unexpected directions exactly—no water bath and high heat browning at the end— and got a beautiful brown top crust and no cracking. This will be my go-to cheesecake from now on. FYI, there was too much batter for my springform pan.

  • Maple cream cheese frosting

    • Creative.Juices on March 04, 2019

      I am a huge ATK fan, but this recipe was utterly disappointing. It is a cream cheese frosting with no added sweetener except the maple syrup. It wasn't sweet, nevermind sweet enough, and had virtually no maple flavoring. I will make it again, but I'm going to double the maple syrup (to 1-1/3 C), then boil it back down to the 2/3 called for. I'll also have maple flavoring, in case I still need to boost it. EDIT: My daughter is absolutely crazy about this frosting, as is. She appreciates that is has no refined sugar, and isn't very sweet. Just goes to show one person's utter disappointment is another's perfection.

  • Lemon buttermilk sheet cake

    • bwhip on August 06, 2019

      This cake has potential, but it's just entirely too sweet.

  • Red velvet layer cake

    • Tweedles81 on October 01, 2019

      This was my first time making a layer cake, and the recipe did not disappoint! The cake was moist and tasty and the frosting was delicious, both tangy and sweet! My only knock is that the cake didn’t have a whole lot of flavor - I could barely taste the cocoa powder. Next time I will try either more cocoa powder or a different brand. I used the recommended Hershey’s natural for this attempt.

  • Chocolate blackout cake

    • Tweedles81 on September 20, 2020

      We made this and, except for a fairly large hiccup, it was delicious! The cake crumb was moist and rich. We did only do about 3/4 of the granulated sugar called for in the cake as we like things less sweet. Like others, our pudding never set - it may have been because our cornstarch was 2 months past its “best by” date. We scrapped it and went with the Chocolate Ganache Frosting instead, and it was fantastic. This is an excellent, rich cake for anyone who is craving chocolate!

    • Debraj76 on August 09, 2019

      Layers too thin in 8x3 inch pans with cake strips. Needs more batter so layers thick enough to split. Cake was very moist (baked 29 minutes), which made it difficult to break up crumbs. I had to dry them out in oven in order to get somewhat even “crumbles”. Pudding was a bit runny, even after overnight chill, so I think needs a bit more cornstarch. Overall, the cake was beautiful when finished, but I had to keep the second layer intact. It was impossible to split. I’m going to try this as cupcakes and use the pudding for filling, then frost with another frosting.

  • Icebox margarita cheesecake

    • sqhall on February 21, 2019

      This had a good flavor, with a unique pretzel crust. No one could figure out what it was. It is a lighter-style "cheesecake." I received lots of compliments.

  • Peanut butter buttercream

    • cpascale on August 04, 2019

      I do not like tooth-achingly sweet frosting and usually avoid American buttercream. This recipe is very peanut buttery, far less sweet than your typical American buttercream, and sturdy in hot, humid weather. My go-to peanut butter buttercream. For fillings I mix with finely chopped peanuts. I use it smooth to frost.

  • Old-fashioned chocolate layer cake

    • SpatulaClark on June 08, 2020

      Middle ground between fluffy chocolate cake and mud cake. Even after sifting, be careful to avoid flour pockets in final batter.

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Reviews about this book

  • Eat Your Books by Jenny Hartin

    America's Test Kitchen's The Perfect Cake (and their earlier The Perfect Cookie) books are must-haves in any baker's kitchen.

    Full review
  • ISBN 10 1945256265
  • ISBN 13 9781945256264
  • Published Mar 27 2018
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 448
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher America's Test Kitchen

Publishers Text

Gathering together years of baking knowledge in their first-ever cake book, America's Test Kitchen offers a comprehensive collection of recipes for any cake you can imagine--from better-than-the-rest yellow cake layers for birthday parties to fanciful creations and elegant holiday desserts.

Cakes are the ultimate all-occasion dessert. Whether you are looking for a party-worthy cake that's sure to bring smiles or a rustic treat for any time, America's Test Kitchen has the perfect recipe in this definitive guide to cake baking. The Perfect Cake opens with a valuable chapter of mix-and-match layer cakes, frostings, and fillings, allowing anyone to find just the combination they're looking for. The following chapters traverse a range of styles, touching on easy crowd-pleasers, sky-high stunners, American classics, holiday cakes, charming minature cakes, and more. Rigorously tested to ensure the perfect outcome, these never-fail recipes will improve any baker's game, from White Cake Layers with an ultradowny crumb to a perfectly domed Pound Cake, a New York Cheesecake with a browned surface (and no cracks), and superlatively chocolaty Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes. Discover new techniques and flavors with a Blueberry Jam Cake frosted in a stunning ombré pattern, a sweet-salty Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake, and a naked-sided Blackberry-Lemon Mascarpone Cake. And as only the test kitchen can, we fill the book with insight on everything from batter mixing methods to slicing cakes into multiple even layers.

The Table of Contents:
Introduction
Chapter 1: Build-a-Cake: Mix-and-Match Layers and Frostings
Chapter 2: Cupcakes, Cake Pops, Mug Cakes, and More
Chapter 3: Crowd-Pleasing Sheet Cakes
Chapter 4: Sky-High Cakes
Chapter 5: Elegant Cakes and Tortes
Chapter 6: Great American Cakes
Chapter 7: Celebrate! Holiday Cakes
Chapter 8: Snack Cakes and Rustic Fruit Cakes
Chapter 9: Pound Cakes, Bundt Cakes and Tube Cakes
Chapter 10: Cool Down: Cheesecakes, Ice Cream, and Icebox


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