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Let’s get one thing on the record: Cakes may be easy to bake, but they’re certainly tough to decorate. There’s a simple reason why we spend money on cakes from bakeries, after all.  Those trusted bakers are often far superior at frosting and piping than us home cooks could ever be. 

Related Reading: If You Cut Cake in Wedges, You’re Doing It All Wrong

But if there’s anyone who can transform our cakes into blissful, beautiful excellence, it’s Martha Stewart. Her newest cookbook, “Martha Stewart’s Cake Perfection,” is geared toward both the experienced and the novice, filled with soaing layer cakes, plump cupcakes, and sheet cakes that even the most uninitiated can tackle. 

Martha Stewart's Cake Perfection: 100+ Recipes for the Sweet Classic, from Simple to Stunning: A Baking Book, $21.68 on Amazon

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The book is divided into a number of sections, including show cakes, layer cakes, everyday cakes, sheet cakes, cupcakes, and celebration cakes. Expect recipes like mint-chocolate icebox cake, snickerdoodle crumb cake, chocolate pudding cupcakes, and a raspberry and chocolate-hazelnut crepe cake. But before you tackle the recipes, you’ll want to make sure to read all of Martha’s tips—including basic frosting techniques and her golden baking rules (which includes making sure to let the cakes fully cool)—to guarantee cake perfection. 

Below you’ll find Martha’s recipe for genoise with cranberry curd filling. The cake—which boasts one Italian sponge cake sliced into four rectangles—is a great fall or Thanksgiving alternative to pie, thanks to the cranberry curd filling. Each layer is painted with the pink cranberry curd filling, built out of cooking down frozen cranberries, orange juice, butter, and eggs—then covered in whipped cream and sprinkled with sugared cranberries. The finished product is sure to look like a cake that’s emerged from a fancy bakery, but needless to say you’ll want to tell everyone that this beauty was, in fact, baked in your own kitchen.  

Reprinted from Martha Stewart’s Cake Perfection. Copyright © 2020 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC

Genoise with Cranberry Curd Filling Recipe

Genoise with Cranberry Curd Filling

Makes: One 8-inch layer cake
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 2/3 cup cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • Cranberry Curd (recipe follow)
  • Whipped Cream
  • Sugared Cranberries (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 12½-by-17½-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line with parchment; butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer brown butter to a large bowl; stir in vanilla and keep warm (110 to 120°F).
  3. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Lightly whisk together eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over (not in) simmering water, and whisk until superfine sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, about 2 minutes.
  4. With an electric mixer, whisk egg mixture on high speed until light and quadrupled in volume, at least 5 minutes. Whisk 1 cup egg mixture into warm butter mixture.
  5. Sift together flour and cornstarch. Gently and quickly fold half the flour mixture into remaining egg mixture until combined, then repeat with remaining flour mixture. Gently fold in butter mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with an offset spatula.
  6. Bake until golden brown and edges begin to pull away from sides, 14 to 16 minutes. (Avoid opening oven door during baking, as cake is fragile and may collapse.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. With a serrated knife, cut cake in half lengthwise and widthwise to make 4 equal rectangles, each about 8 by 6 inches. Place a layer, bottom-side down, on a cake stand; spread a scant ½ cup curd evenly on top. Set another cake layer on top, and repeat process with remaining curd and cake layers. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Spread a thin layer of frosting over cake to form a crumb coat; refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Spread whipped cream evenly over top and sides of cakes. Top with sugared cranberries, if desired.

Cranberry Curd Recipe

Cranberry Curd

Makes: 2.5 cups
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries (3 cups)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 large oranges)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and salt. Simmer until cranberries burst and collapse, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter until melted. Strain mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids to remove as much liquid as possible; discard solids.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together egg and yolks. Slowly whisk 1 cup cranberry mixture into egg mixture; return to saucepan along with remaining cranberry mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of curd, then refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 5 days.

Whipped Cream Recipe

Whipped Cream

Makes: 6 cups
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low speed until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk to firm peaks, about 3 minutes more.

Header image courtesy of "Martha Stewart's Cake Perfection."

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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