12 Snacking Cakes Ideal for Any and Every Occasion

Spiced Snacking Cake
Photo: Lennart Weibull

The humble, versatile snacking cake is finally getting its due. For occasions when only a piece of cake will do, try our favorite easy recipes.

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Chris Court

There's no denying that when it comes to showstopping cakes, Martha has all of the bases covered—just look at the countless recipes on this website and in her new book, Cake Perfection, for proof. From angel food to zuccoto, she has shown us how to bake, layer, and decorate some of the dreamiest cakes around. And while we completely understand why our founder's showier cakes get most of the attention, we also like to celebrate a more humble version of this familiar dessert. Today, we're talking about the type of cakes that don't need the excuse of a special occasion to be served: snacking cakes. Unfamiliar with this category of treats? The Oat Cake with Blueberries and Blackberries that's shown here is the perfect example: unfussy, unlayered, and entirely delicious.

So, what makes a snacking cake different than all the rest? While one could argue that any piece of cake can be a snack, "snacking cakes" are technically a category reserved for a specific style of cake. They are always single-layer, are often cut into squares, and are generally finished with a light glaze or frosting on top. A delightful category in their own right, snacking cakes are nothing fancy in the best sense of the phrase. They won't demand meticulous designs or fantastical shapes from you; usually just a bowl or two, a whisk, and a baking pan. And the results will give you tall, moist squares of tender cake, no strings attached.

You'll find a variety of cakes in this gallery. Some will come together with just a bowl and a whisk, some that are fruit-studded, and others that are perfumed with comforting warm spices. Whatever you do, don't miss our chocolate cake that's so easy, you might even forget making it—until the timer goes off, that is.

One quick disclaimer: These recipes use the term "snack cakes" and "snacking cakes" interchangeably, which is a mildly controversial choice to the purists who strictly classify "snack cake" as the type of packaged desserts made by brands like Hostess and Little Debbie. In the spirit of what snacking cakes represent, we're taking the more casual approach to this category's nomenclature.

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Spiced Snacking Cake

Spiced Snacking Cake
Lennart Weibull

Perfect for chilly afternoons, you don't need a mixer to make this easy cake that's spiked with warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla bean. Enjoy it as an afternoon pick-me-up with a comforting mug of tea or coffee.

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Lemon Snack Cake with Raspberry-Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Cake with Raspberry-Cream Cheese Frosting
Chris Simpson

Bright, lemon-y, and just as pretty as can be, this is a great snacking cake to put out on your counter if you're looking to entice passersby to take a slice.

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Busy-Day Dump Cake

busy day chocolate cake
Johnny Miller

This strictly-pantry cake (that's right, there are no eggs involved!) has you whip up the batter directly in the baking pan. A moist and delicious homemade cake with barely a dish to wash afterward is a supreme example of a snacking cake.

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Spiced Apple Cake

Anna Williams

Fall temperatures bring chillier days and earlier sunsets, making an afternoon treat all the more vital. Embrace the changing seasons with this warming apple cake; the topping is so lovely that it doesn't even require frosting to be both beautiful and delicious.

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Vanilla Sheet Cake with Chocolate-Ganache Buttercream

vanilla cake ganache frosting in pan
Alpha Smoot

Even if your cake preferences skew traditional, there's still a snack cake that will meet your expectations. Don't let the classic birthday cake flavors fool you: With its simple and pure vanilla base and velvety chocolate buttercream frosting, this cake was destined for snack time.

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Gingerbread Snacking Cake


Thanksgiving and Christmas are good examples of occasions when stunning, elaborate desserts are encouraged. But what about the in-between times, where you want a taste of the season without the fuss? Look no further than this sweetly spiced gingerbread cake.

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Cherry Sheet Cake

Cherry Sheet Cake

Frozen cherries add sweetness and ease to this simple sheet cake. As an added bonus, the fruit keeps the cake so moist that all you'll need for toppings is a light dusting of confectioners' sugar.

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Olive Oil Cake


Fragrant olive oil makes the process of preparing this bowl cake an easy affair—there's no need to haul out the stand mixer when a whisk will do. Additionally, using oil in the cake batter instead of butter keeps it moist for days on end (should it last that long).

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Lemon-Poppyseed Snacking Cake

Lemon-Poppyseed Snacking Cake

This snacking cake encapsulates what a sunny, late-spring afternoon feels like. Laced with poppyseeds, lemon zest, and a glug of buttermilk for extra tang, it's an elegant treat that you can enjoy any time of year (and day, for that matter!).

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Chocolate-Zucchini Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

chocolate zucchini sheet cake with cream cheese frosting
Ryan Liebe

Is a handful of nuts and an apple more nutritionally appropriate and sating for an afternoon snack? Of course. But a snacking cake can be nourishment for the spirit, and that has to count for something! Still on the fence? Sneak some shredded zucchini into the cake, as this recipe does, and put your mind at ease.

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Olive Oil Cake with Red Grapes


This easy-going Italian-style cake is made with ground almonds and polenta as well as all-purpose flour, so it has a little more texture. It also contains olive oil instead of butter and grapes for decoration rather than frosting.

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