From the store to the kitchen to the table: We outline the steps that get you from raw ingredients to your dinner tonight, free of measurements and complicated techniques. It’s a method you’ll remember and whip out whenever you like. It is the most basic way to make the thing you’re making.

  • – a big bowl (preferably chilled)
  • – a whisk, eggbeater, or stand mixer
  • – a plate, serving platter, or baking sheet
  • – a half pint of heavy cream or store-bought whipped cream
  • – vanilla extract
  • – powdered sugar
  • – a box of thin wafer cookies (chocolate wafers, ginger thins, etc.)
  • – decorations for the outside of the cake (M&M’s, chocolate chips, crushed cookies, fruit, nuts, etc.)



  • 1. If you’re whipping your own cream rather than using store-bought, pour the cream into the chilled bowl and add a drizzle of vanilla and a couple of spoonfuls of powdered sugar.

    Step 1

  • 2. Whisk or beat the cream until stiff peaks are clinging to the whisk or beater.

    Step 2

  • 3. Spread the whipped cream on one side of a cookie, then top with another cookie and spread more whipped cream on the top side of that cookie. Place on your plate or baking sheet and keep stacking cookies on top of one another and spreading whipped cream in between until you can comfortably turn the stack on its side, like a log. Build the cake as long as you want it.

    Step 3

  • 4. Spread the remaining whipped cream all over the outside of the cake.

    Step 4

  • 5. Put the cake in the refrigerator and chill at least one and a half hours. (The longer it chills, the softer the consistency of the cookies will be.)

    Step 5

  • 6. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and decorate the outside with the garnish of your choice.

    Step 6

  • 7. Cut the cake a bit diagonally so that you can see the individual layers and serve.

    Step 7

Illustrations by Bill Russell

Basics PDF
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