Texas Sheet Cake

Photo: Erin Kunkel

A Nutty, Chocolaty Fallback Plan
When time is tight and you need to throw something together for a picnic, potluck or bake sale, make this sheet cake. It's a large, thin layer of tender chocolate cake slathered with gooey chocolate frosting and sprinkled with toasted nuts, such as walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts.

Get the recipe: Texas Sheet Cake
Berry Long Cake with Ginger Crumb

Photo: Erin Kunkel

The Berry Cake You Can't Mess Up
Even if your dessert approach is more "buy it" than "bake it," there are a few cakes out there that people have been making (without stressing out) for years. Here, we highlight five of them, all from the new book Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. There are no layers, ganache or fondant—just proven, retro recipes that'll work for any occasion. This berry cake is a perfect example: It first appeared in a Betty Crocker ad in 1945 and is as simple as pouring batter into a pan, laying sugared fruit over it and scattering both with a crumb topping. It's equally delicious for breakfast as it is for dessert.

Get the recipe: Berry Long Cake with Ginger Crumb
Ozark Pudding Cake

Photo: Erin Kunkel

The Comfort Dessert You Make in a Skillet
A slightly pudding-like cake, this fruity treat (you can make it with pears or apples) has humble roots but became popular when first lady Bess Truman made a version of it for guests visiting the White House. It's especially good warm from the skillet with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Get the recipe: Ozark Pudding Cake
Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake

Photo: Erin Kunkel

A Reason to Say, "I Knew You Were Coming, So I Baked This Cake"
This swirly lemon-and-almond confection looks impressive but is actually simple to make—and is just the thing to set out for guests. It consists of a light, moist almond-and-buttermilk cake topped with a layer of lemon custard.

Get the recipe: Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake
Kentucky Bourbon Cake

Photo: Erin Kunkel

Your New Go-To Bundt
In 1963, Nell Lewis won the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in Platte City, Missouri, with this basic buttermilk Bundt cake, which is drenched in a boozy bourbon glaze. Richardson says it gives shortcake a run for its money as the best vehicle for strawberries and whipped cream.

Get the recipe: Kentucky Bourbon Cake

Next: Desserts that will make you the most popular guest at the party