If I told you I was making a batch of winter cakes, would you immediately think of a dark and nutty fruit cake?
Most people would, I’m sure, and they’re popular for a reason. The spices and the dried fruits are just what you want when it’s wet and cold outside.
Plus, I start mine in the fall and “feed” them with brandy for a few months before the holidays, making them extra special.
But there’s so much more to winter baking than that, so why limit yourself?
On this list of 23 wonderful winter cakes, you’ll find rich chocolate, spicy gingerbread, citrusy orange, and even an eggnog-flavored cake.
So, how about we get baking?
1. Orange Slice Cake
A lot of winter cakes are dark, spiced, and pretty intense, which I love! But it’s also nice to have something a bit lighter.
This orange slice cake has a very light crumb, forgoing brown sugar and deep syrups in favor of something brighter and fresher.
Still, it’s loaded with dried fruits and nuts, making it the perfect way to start the holidays.
2. Yule Log Cake (Bûche de Noël)
This is what I think of when I’m picturing winter/Christmas cakes. It’s such a classic and a crowd-pleaser at any party.
It’s also crazy-easy to make at home. These swiss roll cake mats help keep the cake nice and thin, but you can also use a regular cake tray.
Just remember that this cake gets rolled, so it needs to be kept shallow.
3. One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
Looking at that picture, you wouldn’t believe that this was a one-bowl wonder.
The crumb looks so moist; you’d assume it needs some serious baking magic to achieve.
Unlike most cake recipes, you start with the dry first, sifting it into your bowl to evenly distribute the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the flour and sugar.
Make a well in the middle, and gently whisk in the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.
The last thing to go in is hot water (or coffee for a deeper flavor), making the batter pretty thin (that’s normal).
4. Gingerbread Cake
If the thought of making and decorating a million gingerbread people is too much, why not try this gingerbread cake instead?
It’s dark, richly flavored, and wonderfully spicy, thanks to the cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
The crumb is super moist, so all it needs is a dollop of whipped cream on the side. Or, this bourbon buttercream would be extra special.
5. Chocolate Peppermint Cake Pops
This minty chocolate cake recipe is excellent if you have the time to make it from scratch and let it cool.
But I won’t judge if you choose a boxed cake mix. The holidays are crazy enough, after all.
Somehow I doubt you’ll have any of that one-bowl chocolate cake leftover, but on the off chance you do: you can make these fantastic cake truffles simply by mixing in some peppermint and cream cheese frosting.
6. Philadelphia No-Bake Cheesecake
This might not be on your radar when thinking about winter cakes, but you can never go wrong with a creamy and sweet slice of cheesecake.
It’s especially tasty when you know it only took ten minutes to throw together!
You can make this a little more winter-flavored by using ginger cookies to make the crust and serving it with some orange-spiced fruit compote.
7. Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
As soon as the weather turns chilly, I start to crave coffee cake with my mid-morning tea.
Something about the cold weather leaves me reaching for a slice of something filling and sweet, and this cream cheese coffee cake more than delivers.
Some coffee cakes can be a bit dry, especially with that thick layer of brown sugar crumble on top.
That’s why I like having that cream cheese layer inside this cake for extra moisture.
8. Hot Chocolate Cake
This might look like a standard chocolate cake, but it actually has a cup of hot chocolate right in the cake batter.
Use whichever hot chocolate you prefer, whether that’s from a packet made from scratch. Just be sure it’s hot when it goes in.
For an even more pronounced flavor, try this hot chocolate frosting and top with mini-marshmallows.
9. Eggnog Cake
Eggnog tastes like a glass of spiced, melted ice cream. It’s thick, rich, and oddly warming from the alcohol.
This cake incorporates the drink into a boxed cake mix, along with a few other tweaks, and into the glaze, too.
Of course, you can use alcohol-free eggnog if you want the kids to have some.
10. Snowflake Cupcakes
Since these cupcakes get covered in blue frosting, you could make them any flavor you want.
I like the whites cake because I think it fits the theme, but feel free to use chocolate or carrot.
The main feature for these is the white chocolate snowflake, for which you’ll need a print-off of the shape (provided in the recipe) and piping bags.
One thing to note is that white chocolate can be temperamental.
I would recommend either top-quality white chocolate chips or white candy melts to ensure it melts nice and smooth.
11. Sticky Toffee Cake
Having eaten my fair share of sticky toffee puddings, I have to admit that I was a little bit wary of this recipe.
Sticky toffee pudding is usually served hot with plenty of toffee sauce and custard.
But this recipe nails it!
Not only is the cake spot on thanks to the inclusion of dates, dark brown sugar, and black treacle (you can use blackstrap molasses as a substitute), but the frosting is made using the sticky toffee sauce for maximum pudding flavors.
12. No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake
If you thought that the no-bake cheesecake above was good, just wait until you try this.
I recommend buying a ready-made Oreo crust for this one since they’re mess-free and will cut your prep down even further.
As for the filling, any Oreo lover will tell you that double-stuffed is the only option.
13. Italian Pear Almond Cake
As with most European-style cakes, this recipe focuses on fruit and nuts and has no frosting.
They don’t like things as sweet as we do, so it’s normal to see their desserts with nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar.
But that’s the beauty of this recipe: there’s no cloying, overly sweet buttercream to overshadow the pear flavors.
14. Candy Cane Layered Cake
If you’re looking for a cake to impress, you can’t beat this tall, layered vanilla cake with mint buttercream and crushed candy canes.
The inside of this cake is lovely and tender, with a silky smooth filling that adds a beautiful layer of fresh minty flavor.
But it’s the crushed candy canes that your guests will be fighting over. They’ll add a nice sticky crunch to the mix.
15. Cranberry Christmas Cake
There’s something so elegant about this cake, and I just love the pops of vibrant color from the fresh cranberries scattered throughout.
You’ll notice that the recipe doesn’t include baking powder or baking soda, which is unusual, and the batter will look very thick once it’s done mixing. That’s ok!
The whipped eggs will ensure this baby rises beautifully, and though it looks like cookie dough, it will bake up into a very light and airy crumb.
16. Butter Pecan Cake
Pecans are a classic holiday treat, and mixed into this cake; they’re extra buttery and flavorful.
They’ll tell you to toast your nuts in many recipes before adding them to the mix. This helps to release the oils and enhance the taste.
In this case, you’ll chop the pecans and sauté them in butter for an extra boost of richness.
17. Applesauce Cake
I had to include at least one fruit cake on this list, and this is my favorite.
It’s full of warm spices and chopped walnuts, and it has such a lovely apple flavor which makes it very wintery.
If you like your fruit cakes dark, feel free to use brown sugar instead of white.
18. Brown Sugar Crumb Cake
Remember I mentioned that crumb cake can sometimes be dry? Well, not with this recipe.
First, the crumb on this cake is impossibly moist due to the inclusion of Greek yogurt. Also, using brown sugar will add extra moisture too.
Once the cake is out of the oven, you’ll pour over a delicious brown sugar and butter glaze, which will seep in and infuse the cake with so much terrific flavor.
19. Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
Is my obsession with cheesecake showing? I think three recipes per round-up is just about right!
Plus, I had to include this sensational pumpkin cheesecake because I just know you’ll love it.
Don’t worry, you’ll only make one cheesecake batter, so there’s not double the work. Just split the batter in two and mix pumpkin puree and spices in one half.
Again, you can up the winter flavors by making your own crust using ginger snap cookies.
20. Black Forest Cake Recipe
Black Forrest cake is known as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in its native Germany and is incredibly rich and decadent.
The chocolate cake provided in this recipe is light and airy and has an intensely chocolatey flavor.
But there’s no cherry in the mix, so you can use a box mix or your go-to chocolate cake recipe.
The cherry flavor is strictly in the filling and frosting, and the recipe does call for kirsch (cherry liqueur), which means it’s for adults only.
21. French Caramel Apple Cake
How amazing does this cake look? It’s golden, sticky-sweet, loaded with fruit, and impossible to resist.
The best part is that you’ll make the caramel in the microwave, and the cake batter doesn’t need a mixer.
You won’t even need to peel the apples for this recipe.
Since you’ll bake the apples and cake batter on top of the caramel, it will bubble and thicken in the bottom of the pan.
For the best finish, let the cake cool for around ten minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool.
Any longer, and it will stick in the pan and break apart.
22. Chestnut Cake with Chocolate Chips
I’d never used chestnut spread before this, and I was amazed at the flavor. It’s very dark and nutty, with earthy undertones and a distinct toffee finish.
You can find this in the supermarket or online, or you can make your own and leave the house smelling like Christmas.
Since this cake is vanilla, the chestnut flavors are very pronounced, and they compliment the chocolate chips so well.
23. Easy Mandarin Cake
It can’t just be my family that goes nuts over mandarins during the holidays, right?
They seem to be in every store, and I can’t leave without buying at least one bag.
An excellent way to use them up is to make this light and airy mandarin cake.
The batter incorporates mandarin juice and slices, so the flavor is nice and robust.
I like to add cranberries and dark chocolate chips to mine for a little extra boost of yumminess.
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