12 of our favorite fruit-filled, fluffy and caramel-topped Southern spring cake recipes
Whether you like your cakes loaded with berries or topped with cloud-like fluffy frosting, this collection of Southern spring cake recipes will help you rediscover some desserts you might already love, as well as — hopefully — introduce you to some new cakes that are sure to wow whomever you’re choosing to share them with.
After what seems like endless months of dreary weather and freezing temperatures, spring is finally making its way around the South. Cherry blossoms are beginning to appear on tree branches, tulips are peaking through the dirt and rebirth is all around.
One of my favorite times of year — without a doubt — is springtime. I can finally stop wearing heavy coats and scarves, and I don’t have to eat heavy meat-filled dishes to help keep me warm. Spring is the time to come out of hibernation and start reintroducing ourselves to sunshine on our faces and fresh fruits and crunchy vegetables on our kitchen tables.
Desserts change during this time, too, from chocolate, nut-filled decadence to springy fruit-ladened cakes so moist and delicate they make surviving subzero temperatures worth it. Here are 12 recipes to prove it.
Mawmaw’s Strawberry Cake
You don’t have to call her mawmaw to know who that special woman is in your life — a grandmother, mentor, favorite cousin, your mom or yourself. A mawmaw is someone who provides comfort and often, by extension, delicious cakes. This blissfully berry-filled dessert features the freshest of spring fruit — strawberries — and makes them the star of the show. Between the strawberries, Jell-O and cake mix, the final layer cake is ultra moist and flavorful.
Southern Tea Cakes
There is just something so darn charming about serving up tea cakes. They are faintly sweet, a delightful mix of a madeleine and shortbread cookie. As the name suggests, these mini cakes are traditionally served during teatime, but they can, of course, be enjoyed during any occasion. Our recipe comes courtesy of Virginia Willis, who offers a slightly more modern reinterpretation of the classic dessert. The result? Perfectly balanced sweetness and texture.
Anne Byrn’s Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Maybe it’s the eye-popping red color, but something about red velvet cake creates excitement on the plate. Here’s a traditional recipe for the cake, complete with cream cheese frosting. You can always forgo the food coloring and let the natural chemical reaction of the acidic and basic ingredients determine the color of the cake, but, really, what’s the fun in that?
Best Banana Cake
If you’re anything like me, there are overly ripe bananas sitting on your kitchen counter at any given moment. The good thing about this fact, however, is that there is usually banana bread, muffins or cake to serve to family and friends in your very near future. This incredibly moist cake features mashed bananas, buttermilk, vanilla extract and loads of butter. The result is a cake that is so full of banana goodness that you’ll convince yourself to have a slice for breakfast, lunch and — of course — right after dinner.
Classic Hummingbird Cake
Hummingbird cake may be a classic Southern recipe, but the moist spice cake originates from the tropical island of Jamaica and is filled with the native fruits found there — bananas and pineapple. Named after the Jamaican national bird, hummingbird cake is traditionally served with a cream cheese frosting and toasted pecan topping. It is perfect for any celebration, no matter the season, and can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
Coconut-Caramel Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
The ’70s are fondly remembered for bold fashion style and the disco movement. But our palates also owe one to the decade, for it birthed the delectable poke cake. As its name suggests, you poke holes on the cake after baking and then pour any number of flavorful fillings on top. Revive the delicious taste of the poke cake in your kitchen with this caramel and coconut-filled recipe.
Classic Southern Caramel Cake
This ultra-classic Southern layer cake is, honestly, a bit complicated. But with patience and practice, you can pull off a stunner of a dessert with tender vanilla cake layers and a complex, bittersweet caramel frosting. Just make sure to read the recipe carefully and follow all of the directions regarding time and temperatures. And, just an FYI, your life will be made much easier with a reliable candy or instant-read thermometer, as well as a stand mixer.
Traditional Southern Lane Cake
A cake with a little tipple inside? Sign me up. Lane Cake is a layered sponge cake with a boozy raisin-coconut filling and a pillowy white frosting. Named after its creator, Emma Rylander Lane, who entered the cake in a county fair baking competition in the late 19th century, the cake rose to fame when it was mentioned in another Southern classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This recipe takes some effort in the kitchen, but the end result of a flavorful and moist showstopper cake is worth the time, and it only gets better with age.
Lady Baltimore Cake
Said to have originated in the early 20th century at Lady Baltimore’s Tea Room in Charleston, South Carolina, Lady Baltimore cake is a white cake filled with a mixture of dried fruit and nuts, then frosted with a meringue-like icing. It’s a labor of love, which is why many people around Charleston enjoy it as a wedding cake. It works equally well as a dessert for any festive occasion, be it Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Leah Chase’s Butter Cake
Leah Chase is a living legend and her historic New Orleans restaurant Dooky Chase is practically a national landmark. Chase has been called the Queen of Creole cuisine and, after one taste her her gumbo, you’ll understand why. Likewise, Chase’s butter cake is a Southern classic with a lot of soul. A traditional butter cake, as the name suggests, is chock full of creamy unsalted butter, sugar, eggs and flour. It sounds simple, but the results are magical.
This recipe is courtesy of Christian Castillo, the pastry chef at Atlas in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. It is quite an involved recipe, but you can easily split up the work by tackling most of the components ahead of time; the only component you do need to make the day-of is the shortcake. You can also easy simplify the dish by making the shortcakes and serving them with traditional whipped cream and fresh berries. But if you really want to impress, plan your weekend around baking this dessert — you won’t be disappointed.
Vanilla Pound Cake
Make this classic pound cake that uses an actual pound of butter and almost a pound of flour and top with fruit and whipped cream to make it extra delicious. This very dense cake is good enough to serve plain, although some berries or sliced fresh pear would be nice, too.