Cakes are wonderful desserts and are equally enjoyable as a simple pound cake or an elaborate European torte. Cakes can be used for a variety of things, but not all cake works for every occasion. So how do you figure out what type of cake to make for your goal?
Most common being a pound cake or fruit cake. This type of cake tends to have a denser texture so these hearty cakes can hold up to being sliced thin and served with sauces, fresh fruits and creams. The original pound cakes got their name from the recipe used to create them - 1 pound of eggs, 1 pound of sugar, 1 pound of butter and 1 pound of flour.
Recognizable today for being cakes that we layer and decorate for special occasions. One of the most common cake types in todays world that is made from a high percentage of butter or oil that results in a rich and tender cake. Several types of frostings such as buttercreams, cream cheese, fudge-like, and fondants are very complimentary to butter cakes and this style has the structure to be able to stand up to heavy fillings and lots of decoration. Butter cakes are great cake bases for upside-down cakes also since they can hold up to the weight of heavy fruit.
Lighter style cakes, sponge cakes are most recognizable as angel food or jelly rolls. These cakes rely on whipped eggs for their structure versus the butter cake that uses a chemical leavener for it's lift. Given that sponge cakes use the creation of air cells in whipped eggs for lift and structure makes them light, flexible and able to hold up to extra handling by the baker. Heavy fillings and frostings do not work well with these types of cakes. These cakes can be spread thinly across a sheet tray and used for thin layered tortes and compliment mousse fillings and meringue style frosting or thin glazes for decoration. Genoise is an example of a sponge cake that is made from stiffen whipped whole eggs and it can also have a small amount of melted butter folded in at the end of mixing.
Chiffons are a cross between butter cakes and sponge cakes. They use both chemical leavener and the air in whipped eggs for lift. Chiffon cakes are great for a summer picnic, they can hold up to filliings such as jams, curds and mousse, but with their light texture frostings such as Italian buttercreams would work well.
The excuse to eat cake for breakfast or with afternoon tea! Coffee cakes are filled with fruits and streusels and covered in beautiful glazed icings. The dense texture of a coffee cake is almost muffin like, and it should be since several coffee cakes can be produced from muffin and quick bread batters.