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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.

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    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.