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How to make a cake: Absolutely everything you need to know from start to finish

Knowing how to make a cake can feel really intimidating when you’re not sure about the process. Separating eggs? Stiff peaks? Folding? Whipping? Beating? Whether you’re a beginner baker who just wants to make a simple birthday cake or a long-time baker looking for inspiration, I’ve compiled the ultimate list of everything you need to know from start to finish so you can learn how to make a cake that’s just right for your next special occasion.

There’s not a Southern woman around that can’t recognize the value of a homemade cake–three tiers of sugar, butter and flour wrapped up in a  pound and a half of some heavenly frosting. But the truth is today, most people grab theirs from the local deli and call it good enough.

But don’t feel bad! If you know how to make a cake from scratch or really want to learn how to make a cake you can be proud of, this is the place to start.

Scroll down for every step you’ll need from start to finish including a boat load of my favorite southern cakes (they’re near the bottom), tools for the job and every flavorful addition I could think up so you can feel totally inspired and have all the knowledge to get yourself covered in flour and lick the spoon a hundred times.

Think of something I left out? Drop in a comment with your idea and (even better) a link to a recipe you love and I’ll include it in the list.

how to make a cake

Get your cakes started off right with basics on measuring, mixing and prepping so every bite is light.

How to grease and flour a pan The Spruce

How to measure parchment paper The Kitchn

How to know if butter is soft The Pioneer Woman

How to cream butter   Food Above Gold 

How to measure flouMy Baking Addiction

How to sift flour Joy the Baker

How to make cake flour The Kitchn

Wet or dry measuring cups? The Novice Chef Blog

How to use gelatin David Leibovitz

how to make a cake

Easy tutorials (with pictures) so you can get every egg mixed in the way it was meant to be.

How to whip egg whites to stiff peaks Serious Eats

How to whip egg whites to soft peaks Better Homes and Gardens

How to fold egg whites into a batter All Recipes

How to temper eggs Cooking  Channel TV

how to make a cake

Over baking a cake means you’ll end up with a dry, crumbly final product. Follow these steps for bakery-level perfection in your own kitchen.

How to position pans in the oven Real Simple

How to get batter even in pans A Cozy Kitchen

How to know if your cake is done The Kitchn

How to remove cakes to cool Better Homes and Gardens

How to level a cake Craftsy 

How to stabilize a cake for frosting Real Simple

How to freeze an unfrosted cake YouTube

how to make a cake

If you’d like a little more va-voom inside your cake than just regular old frosting, try one of these homemade, easy options.

How to know if your filling is thick enough  Baking Bites

How to chill a filling for use Crafty Baking

How to choose the right cake filling Craftsy

Custard Cream All Recipes

French Cream Eugenie Kitchen

Cannoli Cream Food Folks and Fun

Chocolate Mousse Tastes Better from Scratch 

Vanilla Cream Country Living

Dulce de Leche Dominican Cooking

Lemon Cream Cheese Wicked Good Kitchen 

Tangerine Marmalade Food and Wine

Fresh Fruit Oh So Delicioso

Whipped Cream All Recipes

Strawberry Mashed

Unusual Fillings Bake Space

how to make a cake

Give your cake the perfect homemade finish with a frosting that compliments your cake.

How to frost a cake The Pioneer Woman

How to decorate a Cake Umami Girl

How to melt chocolate Real Simple

How to use a double boiler Youtube

Seven Minute FrostinFood Network

Buttercream Frosting Food Network

Chocolate Frosting Martha Stewart

Marshmallow Buttercream A Pretty Life in the Suburbs

Peanut Butter Frosting Sugar and Soul

Strawberry Frosting Sally’s Baking Addiction

Espresso Buttercream The Brown Eyed Baker

Caramel Frosting Paula Deen

Chocolate Chip Frosting Martha Stewart

Sour Cream Frosting  Better Homes and Gardens

Cinnamon Frosting Sugar and Soul

Peppermint Buttercream Two Sisters Crafting

Banana Pudding Frosting The Cupcake Project

Cream Cheese Frosting Spend with Pennies

Italian Meringue The Tough Cookie

Swiss Meringue Martha Stewart

Royal Icing Joy of Baking 

How to Store a Cake The Kitchn

How to Cut a Cake Southern Living

Cake Garnishes Country Living

how to make a cake

There’s no doubt–we southern women know how to make a cake. And there are plenty of fabulous choices to get excited about.

Italian Cream Cake The Country Contessa

Whiskey Sour Bundt Cake Restless Chipotle

Hummingbird Cake Living Sweet Moments

Apple Stack Cake Splendid Table 

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake The Country Contessa

Jam Cake Martha White

Chocolate Pound Cake Paula Deen

Coca Cola Cake The Seasoned Mom

Angel Food Cake Chef in Training

Cranberry Apple Cake The Country Contessa

Caramel Cake Grand Baby Cakes

Carrot Cake The Country Contessa

Lemon Cake Food Network

Southern Coconut Cake Restless Chipotle

German Chocolate Cake Pillsbury

Lane Cake Pillsbury

Pineapple Upside Down Cake The Country Contessa

Spice Cake Country Living

Red Velvet Bakerella

Chocolate Praline Southern Living

Snickers Poke Cake The Country Cook

Cake Pops Simply Home Cooked

Cream Cheese Pound Cake The Country Contessa

how to make a cake

Need to make a change to a recipe? Try one of these options.

Altitude adjustments King Arthur Flour

Applesauce instead of oil Musselman’s

Swapping Sour Cream Epicurious

Swapping Butter My Recipes

Swapping Condensed Milk Leaf

Swapping Eggs She Knows

Swapping White Sugar Dish/All Recipes

Gluten Free Flours The King Arthur Blog

how to make a cake

Every baker needs the basic cooking tools on hand for success. Invest in a quality tool and you’ll have it forever.

8-inch round cake pans 

9-inch round cake pans

A good hand mixer

A stand mixer for big jobs

Mixing bowls

Double duty wet and dry measuring cups

Oven thermometer


Offset spatula

Cake Stand

Cake Carrier

Cake Tester

Double Boiler

Parchment Paper

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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.