The wonderful Julia Child once said: “A party without a cake is just a meeting.” And I couldn’t agree more. Whether it’s a birthday, special anniversary, celebratory afternoon tea or casual barbecue, you always need a cake. And when you’ve been given the task to “bring cake” – or “something for dessert” – for a gathering of 10 or more, the key is to make it impressive but keep it simple. And both are possible.
I always look to what’s in season for inspiration when baking a cake for a crowd. In summer we are spoilt for choice with luscious stone fruits, beautiful berries and irresistible mangoes to give body and colour to your cake. If you would like to showcase the heavenly flavour and aroma of in-season mangoes, choose firm yet ripe ones to make this divine upside-down mango and coconut cake. Baked in a slab or slice tin and cut into fingers, it will easily feed a very happy many.
Go for full-of-flavour cakes that will satisfy with just a small slice when the gathering is large. A traditional rich fruitcake is perfect for celebrating the festive season. Serve a modest portion of this cherry and macadamia Christmas cake – an updated take on the traditional type – alongside a cuppa or with a scoop of vanilla or brandy-spiked ice-cream for dessert. You and everyone else will be happy to enjoy the rich pickings within moderation… the restrained will thank you and the insatiable can always come back for seconds.
On the cooler but equally indulgent side is the ice-cream cake. One of my favourite ways of making this magnificent dessert is to sandwich the ice-cream between two layers of nut meringue. Check out my strawberry and pistachio ice-cream cake, which I make to double as a birthday cake for my sister-in-law on Christmas Day. Whether you’re singing Happy Birthday or wishing a Merry Christmas or both, this cake is a definite winner all round!
Then there’s the guaranteed impact of a sensational layer cake. My hummingbird cake has multiple layers to give it height, presence and lots of serves. Impressive to look at (especially if you decorate it with vibrant edible flowers) and amazing to eat with its delicious combination of tropical pineapple, banana and coconut flavours, this cake is super-stylish plus has heaps of substance. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to a crowd-friendly cake for a party that could never be mistaken for a meeting…
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
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