Fancy layer cakes have their place, but sometimes you just want a good, simple cake—one that doesn’t need a special mixing method or all sorts of frostings and fillings to layer inside. That’s where snack cakes (or snacking cakes) come in. These easy-to-make, single-layer cakes are nice enough to serve to company with coffee or tea, they come in handy as after-school treats, and they satisfy any spur-of-the-moment cake cravings.
Snack cakes are typically made with pantry staples, though you can also find them with fresh ingredients, such as fruit, mixed in. They can be frosted or not; most taste fine with just a simple dusting of confectioners’ sugar, but they can also be spruced up if desired.
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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.
Over the years, we have made a lot of snack cakes in the Cook’s Country kitchen. Here is a sampling of our favorites.
Applesauce Spice Snack Cake
Our Applesauce Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Icing leans on applesauce to add sweetness, moisture, and structure. (A jar from the pantry works fine, but if you’ve just gone apple picking, you can make your own.) Thinking about what pairs well with apples, we enhanced the cake with caramelly brown sugar, floral vanilla, and warm spices reminiscent of autumn (ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon). And to give the cake some easy elegance and reinforce the caramel notes, we whipped up a quick brown sugar icing. Sprinkling some toasted pecans on top added crunch.
Applesauce Spice Cake with Brown Sugar IcingWith its rich, caramel-like topping, this buttery-sweet, lightly spiced cake is sure to please.
Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake
When you have ripe, speckled bananas hanging around, our Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake is the thing to make. Our banana snack cake is fluffy rather than dense like banana bread (also a delicious use for ripe bananas) because we beat softened butter with sugar to incorporate air into the batter. Some chocolate chips add sweet pockets throughout the cake, and an optional cream cheese frosting contributes a little tang while still keeping the cake simple.
Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack CakeDense, moist banana bread is great. But tender, fluffy banana snack cake is something else again.
Carrot Snack Cake
Carrot cakes can be a lot of work, so we skipped the fussy stacking of layers and moved our Carrot Snack Cake to a 13 by 9-inch baking pan. We shredded carrots in the food processor and reused the appliance later to whip cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla into a frosting. Plumping golden raisins in orange juice introduced sweet pops to our cake. Adding pumpkin pie spice, a convenient pantry item, with the dry ingredients was a shortcut to getting well-rounded spice flavor in the cake. And soaking the cake (while still hot) in buttermilk syrup moistened it and added some tang that complemented the frosting and balanced the sweetness in the cake.
Carrot Snack CakeWith our recipe, carrot cake is easier, faster, and tastier than ever.
Coconut Snack Cake
Our Coconut Snack Cake is a streamlined version of a coconut layer cake. It’s a simple stir-together cake packed with coconut in three forms: sweetened shredded coconut, cream of coconut, and coconut extract. The sweetened shredded coconut adds texture to the cake, while the cream of coconut adds sweetness. And the coconut extract drives home the coconut flavor without overwhelming the cake. We spike the cream cheese frosting with a touch more coconut extract and sprinkle some toasted shredded coconut on top. If you love coconut, this is the snack cake you’ll be grabbing pieces of all day long.
Coconut Snack CakeWith three forms of coconut, this everyday cake boasts big flavor that will keep you coming back to snack.
Gingerbread Snack Cake
Our Gingerbread Snack Cake, developed by Ronni Lundy, takes inspiration from Appalachia, where gingerbread is a beloved, time-honored tradition. Beyond the usual ginger and cinnamon, the tender cake gets its bold flavor from a host of other flavor powerhouses: bitter orange marmalade, unsweetened cocoa powder, brewed coffee, and black pepper. Sorghum syrup, an ingredient oft-used in Appalachian recipes, adds sweetness, plus a buttery note that maple syrup lacks. The cake is just perfect for eating right out of the pan. You can dust it with confectioners’ sugar if you like.
Gingerbread Snack CakeIn Appalachia, gingerbread is a time-honored tradition.
Preserved Peach Snack Cake
If you are on top of your game, you have a jar of our Preserved Peaches in Syrup in your pantry, and you’re looking for ways to use it. Our Preserved Peach Snack Cake is a rich, milky cake (it has both condensed milk and whole milk) that’s the ideal vehicle for serving up those sweet, syrupy peaches. Simply whisk together the batter, spread it into an 8-inch square baking pan, sprinkle sugar over the batter, and arrange the peach slices on top. After 45 minutes of baking and 10 minutes of cooling, the warm cake is ready for eating—on its own or with a dollop of whipped cream. (If you don’t have our preserved peaches on hand, you can purchase some to use in this cake.)
Preserved Peach Snack CakeThis rich and milky cake utilizes our recipe for sweet Preserved Peaches in Syrup.
Pumpkin–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake
Our Pumpkin–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake uses the quick bread method, which just means we stirred together all the dry ingredients and then all the wet ingredients separately before combining the two. This is a failproof way to ensure that the cake is not overmixed (which would make it less tender). Using pumpkin pie spice meant we could just hit up our spice cabinet for one jar rather than multiple jars to get that flavor everyone associates with pumpkin desserts. Mini chocolate chips add an element of fun. Put this cake out after school, and it’s bound to disappear quickly.
Pumpkin–Chocolate Chip Snack CakeMini chocolate chips add an exciting touch to this sweet snack cake.
With so many fun options to choose from, which snack cake will you make the next time a cake craving strikes?