10 Classic Southern Cakes You Need To Try

Southern Cakes Cover

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Southern Cakes Cover
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Love in Layers

If you had a towering, show-stopping cake at every occasion growing up, you might just be from the South. Cakes have been a way to celebrate, welcome, and love people for a long time, so they've been perfected over the years. Next time you want to supply your friends and family with a cake that's as beautiful as it is delicious, try one of these classic Southern recipes.

Related: The Surprising Stories Behind Popular Regional Desserts

Piece of Hummingbird cake with pecans and cream cheese frosting
Delicious caramel cake

2. Lane Cake

Lane cake won first prize in a county fair in rural Georgia. Sometime after, its creator, Emma Rylander Lane, published the recipe in her cookbook in 1898. It then became popular in the 1960s after it was mentioned in "To Kill a Mockingbird". The three-layer white cake is filled and topped with a rich coconut, pecan, and raisin frosting — with a hefty splash of bourbon.

Recipe: Saveur

Related: Old-Fashioned Desserts We Secretly Still Love

cake with dulce de leche

3. Caramel Cake

You'll find caramel cake all over restaurant and diners in the South. The yellow cake is somewhat dense in order to hold up to all that thick caramel icing. This recipe doesn't cut corners: You have to cook the icing for at least an hour to caramelize it properly. If you prefer a most frosting-like texture, you can whip the caramel icing.

Recipe: Grandbaby Cakes

Related: Easy and Delicious Recipes That Start with Cake Mix

Coconut layer cake

4. Coconut Cake

There are three types of coconut in this impressive layer cake: coconut extract, shredded coconut, and coconut milk. There's no egg yolks in the cake so the whole thing is snow white. If you don't think the flavor of the cake is exactly as you remember from childhood, try adding a few drops of almond extract.

Recipe: Sally's Baking Recipes

A slice of Red Velvet Cake
Puji Rahayu/istockphoto

5. Red Velvet Cake

Though the history of red velvet cake is murky, it was always embraced by Southerners. Once it appeared in the film "Steel Magnolias", it was cemented in everyone's minds as a Southern staple. Buttermilk is an essential ingredient in the cake batter to give it tang, which pairs well with the thick cream cheese frosting.

Recipe: Preppy Kitchen

Related: Jell-O Salad and Other Retro Summer Recipes We Secretly Love

Cut peaces of dark chocolate moist buttermilk sheet cake with chocolate butter cream, homemade dessert on a cookig resting tray and baking paper.
Olga Mazyarkina/istockphoto

6. Coca-Cola Cake

Coca-Cola is from Georgia, and Southerners have embraced it as a cooking ingredient for a long time. Cake is one of the best ways to use it, and Coca-Cola cake surged in popularity when Cracker Barrel put it on its menu. Buttermilk keeps this chocolate sheet cake moist, and the pourable chocolate icing is one of the easiest you'll ever make.

Recipe: Spicy Southern Kitchen

Homemade lemon cake with icing

7. 7-Up Cake

Coke isn't the only soda that's going into cakes in the South. Lemon-lime flavored 7-Up has its own cake as well, and it's usually in pound cake or bundt cake form. Lemon extract ensures you get a big citrus punch in both the cake and the glaze of this one.

Recipe: Grandbaby Cakes

Slicing of Texas sheet cake. Buttery and chocolaty cake sliced to rectangular pieces inside the baking bin. Fresh from Oven
Jogy Abraham/istockphoto

8. Texas Sheet Cake

Everything is bigger in Texas, including this sheet cake, which is made in a large jelly roll pan instead of a 9x13 cake pan. It's got a light chocolate flavor and a boiled, pourable chocolate icing that seeps into the cake a little bit for ultimate gooeyness. Sprinkling chopped pecans on the warm icing is a common addition.

Recipe: Tastes Better From Scratch

Related: 12 Cheap and Easy Desserts for a Crowd

Sweet sponge cake. Bundt cake on plate on white table.

9. Kentucky Butter Cake

It's said that a version of this bundt cake won a Pillsbury Bake-Off competition in the 1960s, and we believe it. It's a dense vanilla pound cake, but the buttery glaze makes the whole thing. You pour it on with the cake is still hot in the pan, so it seeps through and creates a thin crackly crust once cooled. In true Kentucky tradition, a little bourbon in the glaze is delicious.

Recipe: Southern Living

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Honey cake with tea and cinnamon.

10. Apple Stack Cake

Apple stack cake is an Appalachian treat, and it's one of the most unique Southern cakes. Its many thin layers are very sturdy, and the batter is cookie dough-like. The filling is made with dried apples, molasses, and spices. Once the cake is assembled, it needs to rest for a couple days in order to soften and meld together. 

Recipe: The Spruce Eats