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Credit: Photo: Karla Conrad; Food Styling: Trish Myers; Prop Styling: Leslie Poyzer

Cake All Day: Cakes to Carry You Through, from Morning to Midnight

published Apr 25, 2020
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Throughout the coronavirus quarantine, bread baking and sourdough cultivating have emerged as popular pastimes, keeping people busy with baking projects they’ve never tried before. My sweet tooth, however, leads me in a different direction entirely — I’m much more likely to bake a frosting-slathered sheet cake than a loaf of crusty bread. And while cake-baking has always been a huge part of my life (I wrote an entire cookbook about cakes), it’s now become a form of therapy, too.

Baking — like knitting and solving puzzles — requires a certain amount of concentration. Baking centers me, and the rhythm of it soothes me. When I bake, I stop worrying about the world outside my kitchen — there isn’t room in my brain to focus on creaming butter and how long my stash of toilet paper is going to last. When I cook I rarely follow a recipe, but when I bake I always have one at hand, because even the easiest baking projects have little rules and formulas to be followed.

It’s these types of easy projects that have been keeping me sane. Now isn’t the time for multi-layered cakes topped with fancy frostings. No, our current situation calls for sturdy, comforting cakes — loaf cakes and Bundt cakes and rectangular sheet cakes that can feed a large family, but will keep in the refrigerator for a week if you’re sheltering with a small party of two or three. 

So I’ve developed just that — a whole batch of easy, delicious cakes anyone can make, at any hour of the day. I think they’re all worthy candidates for your butter, flour, and eggs. 

Credit: Photo: Karla Conrad; Food Styling: Trish Myers; Prop Styling: Leslie Poyzer

A Cake for Any and Every Time of Day

I’m a firm believer that there’s a cake to suit every mood, occasion, and time of day. Too often we reserve cake for dessert, but that’s far too long in the day to wait. Why not start the day with cake, or at least bake one for an afternoon snack? And why not eat cake long past bedtime, when we’re craving chocolate the most? Now, when all the days are bleeding together, a cake to help us tell the time is hardly a bad idea.

Whether you’re looking for a gooey, nutty coffee cake to serve warm for breakfast, or a dense, moist, ultra-chocolaty loaf cake to store in the fridge to satisfy your midnight cravings, I’ve got you covered with the following four recipes.

Credit: Photo: Karla Conrad; Food Stying: Trish Myers; Prop Styling: Leslie Poyzer

The Perfect Breakfast Cake: Sticky Bun Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This simple sour cream breakfast cake is covered in a nutty caramel glaze that bakes right along with the cake, and gives you all the joys of a sticky bun but requires none of the work of a yeast dough. Make sure to serve it while it’s still slightly warm and the crunchy topping is delightfully gooey. Oh, and it’s best if there’s a hot pot of coffee nearby, too.

Credit: Photo: Karla Conrad; Food Styling: Trish Myers; Prop Styling: Leslie Poyzer

The Simple Afternoon Snack Cake: Buttered Toast Bundt Cake with Honey and Jam

This classic pound cake is infused with nutty brown butter, and is brushed with a warm, buttery honey glaze straight out of the oven. It’s delicious on its own, but it’s also tasty sliced and toasted and spread with a fast-and-easy homemade jam, made in minutes from a bag of frozen mixed berries I usually reserve for my daughter’s morning smoothie. Try it with a cup of hot tea.

Credit: Photo: Karla Conrad; Food Styling: Trish Myers; Prop Styling: Leslie Poyzer

The Boozy After-Dinner Cake: Tipsy Coconut Tres Leches Cake

If you’ve never made a tres leches cake before, now’s the time to try it. It’s made with pantry staples like evaporated and sweetened condensed milk, and this adults-only version gets a bit of rum and a kiss of coconut, too. The cake is best served cold, straight from the refrigerator, and it stays fresh for days. Enjoy after dinner with a glass of red wine (or, you know, more rum).

Credit: Photo: Karla Conrad; Food Styling: Trish Myers; Prop Styling: Leslie Poyzer

The Ultimate Midnight Snack Cake: Double Chocolate Fudge-Stuffed Loaf Cake

When chocolate cravings sneak up on you in the middle of the night, you’ll be happy to have a slice of this cake to nibble on while standing in the light of the refrigerator door. Its rich, chocolate flavor and the creamy fudge swirl remain luscious even when served cold. Plus, since the gooey topping is tucked away inside, there’s no need for extra frosting or garnishes.