Cakes made for toppings

By Olivia Fowler

For the Courier

There are few things more delicious than fresh strawberries. Really good ones are ripe now, and there are so many good things you can bake to add to their goodness.

These cakes are universally loved for their ability to serve as foundations for almost any kind of fresh fruit desserts. Strawberry shortcake is an all-time favorite, so we had to include a recipe for shortcakes.

And you don’t have to limit the topping to just strawberries. As other fruits come in, they can also be a great addition to any of the cakes featured here.


  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. cold (salted) butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal.

Whisk together 1/2 cup buttermilk, the egg, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Add to the flour mixture and lightly mix with your hands just until the dough just comes together. Do not over mix. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With lightly floured hands, gently pat the dough into a seven-inch round about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 8 equal sized wedges. Space the shortcakes evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining one tablespoon buttermilk and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.


Sponge Cake

  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, warm the milk and two teaspoons of the butter together over medium-low heat. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip, beat the eggs and one cup of the sugar on medium-high speed in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and tripled in volume, about eight minutes. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the warm milk mixture. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small mixing bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and blend thoroughly until smooth. Repeat with the other half. Add the vanilla and mix gently. Grease a 17-by-12-inch baking pan or jelly-roll pan with the remaining two tablespoons butter. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining two tablespoons sugar. Pour the cake batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Bake until the cake springs back when touched, about 15 minutes. Cool for about two minutes, then gently flip it out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Let cool completely.


Angel Food Cake

  • 1 1/4 c. egg whites (10-12)
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar, divided
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Sift 1/2 cup sugar and flour together twice; set aside.

Place oven rack in the lowest position. Preheat oven to 350°. Add cream of tartar, extracts and salt to egg whites; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, about two tablespoons at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form.

Gradually fold in flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time.

Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned and entire top appears dry. Immediately invert pan; cool completely, about one hour.

Run a knife around side and center tube of pan. Remove cake to a serving plate.


Meringue Shells

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • Berries of your choice
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional

Place egg whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Add vanilla and cream of tartar; beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, one tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.

Shape into three-inch cups with the back of a spoon. Bake at 225° for one to one and a half hours or until set and dry. Turn oven off; leave meringues in oven for one hour.

Cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Fill shells with berries; garnish with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.