Love Is Patient Puzzle Cake

Photo: Tina Rupp

The "Whoa!" Showstopper That's Also Really Charming
Gesine Bullock-Prado, author of the new book Bake It Like You Mean It, calls this her Love Is Patient Puzzle Cake. Layers of pomegranate and key lime chiffon cake alternate in six orderly rows, with one twist—a diagonal layer that cuts through the entire cake. An outer covering of dried cake crumbs with playful, imperfect stenciled hearts completes this dazzler.
Layered Tomboy cake from Miette

Photo: Frankie Frankeney

The Not-Too-Cute (but Pretty Darling) Dessert
San Francisco pastry shop Miette has the ideal cake for people who think cakes can be a little too frilly: the Tomboy. It's an unfinished-looking double-chocolate cake layered with vanilla buttercream (and okay, it has a little pink rose on top).
Sandy beach bucket cake

Photo: Laura Edwards

The Only Way You'll Ever Get Us to Eat Sand
This summery confection from The Birthday Cake Book by Fiona Cairns—who made the wedding cake for William and Kate (otherwise known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge)—starts with a Neapolitan sponge cake (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry), which is then surrounded by a rolled fondant beach bucket. That's all very lovely, but it's the crushed graham cracker sand and candy shells and pebbles scattered on top that really wow.
Shopping themed cake

Photo: Sherri Meyers

A Cake to Eat Once You've Shopped (and Dropped)
The Pastry Studio, a bakery in Daytona Beach, Florida, makes a sugary stiletto heel, shoebox and shopping bag that look so incredibly real that you have to cut it—and see the Southern hazelnut praline cake inside—to believe it.
Gardening cake

Photo: Laura Edwards

The Maintenance-Free Garden
Cairns' masterfully ordered miniature vegetable garden—complete with fondant eggplant, rhubarb, peas and more—sits atop a spiced apple cake, fenced in with rustic-looking chocolate twigs.
Nest cake

Photo: The Baking Bean

The Dessert You Shouldn't Overthink
When contemplating Baking Bean pastry chef Clarice Lam's whimsical three-layer banana cake with caramel buttercream, the question becomes, Which should you eat first: the fondant chickens ringing the outside or the iced honey graham cookie "eggs" in the salted pretzel nest?
Flower pot cake

Photo: Perfect Endings

The After-Dinner Bouquet
"Everything's edible," says Sam Godfrey of Perfect Endings, who bakes these beautiful cakes (which Oprah served at a garden party) in foil-lined clay flowerpots. The posies are sugar; the flowerpot is a chocolate cake filled with crushed cookie "dirt."
Shangri-La cake topped with flower petals

Photo: Extraordinary Desserts

The Cake That Will Take You Away
A combination of white chocolate mousse, guava mousse, fresh strawberries and whipped cream layered between vanilla cakes moistened with kirsch, the Shangri-La cake from Karen Krasne of Extraordinary Desserts is a riot of color. The white and pink chocolate shavings on the sides make it even dreamier.
Unique baby shower cake

Photo: Magnolia Bakery

Finally! A Sweet Baby-Shower Cake That's Not Pastel
At Magnolia Bakery, which started in Manhattan's West Village and now has eight locations in New York, Chicago and elsewhere, a baby shower is the time to remember a sweet and simple throwback dessert—vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream...with a few dainty updates, like polka dots of vanilla buttercream and a scalloped edge.

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