Photography: Johnny Miller1 of 6
What You See Is What You Get!
These six cakes shed formality and happily flaunt their fillings. They’re great fun to put together -- and even more so to show off and share.
Start with the cake layers -- we used sponge cake and pound cake, plus a few unexpected options like pate brisee rounds and airy disks of meringue. Then match them with creamy counterparts, including whipped cream, lemon curd, pastry cream, and mousse, plus peak-of-season fruits like berries and peaches.
Finally, give these “as is” desserts the simplest finishes -- a dusting of confectioners’ sugar here, a drizzle of honey there -- nothing more.
2 of 6
Our version of the German specialty is wonderfully left to the elements, rather than shrouded in whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Two layers of chocolate sponge cake (or genoise) -- brushed with a creme-de-cassis syrup -- sandwich chocolate-ganache glaze, whipped cream, and fresh blackberries (a no-pitting-required swap for cherries). The toppings? More ganache glaze and a pile of berries.
If eating pie leaves you yearning for more crust, here’s your dream dessert: Flaky, golden-brown pate brisee disks are layered with jam, then pastry cream that has whipped cream and sliced strawberries folded in, and stacked four-deep. Making the disks is easy—just roll out the dough into rounds (no need to fit it into pie plates or crimp edges), sprinkle them with sugar, and bake. The whole thing is chilled overnight like an icebox wafer cake, for neater slicing.
3 of 6
Crisp-chewy baked meringues meet cool, creamy coconut sorbet in these blushing beauties. The light-as-air disks, tinted the palest shade of pink, are made by swooping and swirling meringue onto parchment; the top layers are sprinkled with shredded coconut before baking. Freezing the desserts (for up to a day) leaves the cakes soft enough to eat with a fork -- or a spoon, as you like it -- on any day or midsummer’s night.
Pretty pleased: Horizontal slices of rich brownie cake make dramatic stripes in this striking frozen dessert, which features all the fixings of an old-fashioned sundae—and then some. Two kinds of ice cream—vanilla and strawberry—are used as the fillings, along with crunchy peanut butter and crushed raspberries. Everything is layered in a loaf pan before freezing, slicing, and serving -- with whipped cream, sugared peanuts, and cherries on top.
5 of 6
We tweaked a favorite ice cream flavor from way back to make a treat for all ages. The exceptionally moist cream-cheese pound cake gets split and filled -- three times -- with a luscious mousse flavored with pureed cooked peaches and studded with chopped fresh peaches and cherries. Because it’s thickened with gelatin, the mousse gets nice and firm, then stays that way when layered in the cake -- and in every last slice.
Swipe here for next slide
6 of 6
This rustic cake is infused with the tastes of honey, lemon, and a hint of ground cardamom, like a flavorful cup of tea. Four layers of cake -- made tender and moist with oil (in place of butter), milk, honey, and brown sugar -- are brushed with more honey, then spread with a satiny-smooth filling that’s a cross between lemon curd and cream-cheese frosting (for the best of both). We topped ours with a piece of honeycomb, but a drizzle of honey is just as buzzworthy.