Celebration Cake Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi

Adapted by Sam Sifton

Celebration Cake Recipe (1)

Total Time
24 hours, including freezing
Read community notes

This cake, which was developed by the British-Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, may not look perfect. You may end up with cracked layers, roughly cut edges and a white-chocolate ganache spread willy-nilly. “I think it’s best if it is superrustic,” Ottolenghi said. But it will be elegant anyway, the astonishingly good result of care and time spent in the kitchen for loved ones, and the flavors are terrific. —Sam Sifton

Featured in: Revel in the Bounty of Spring, With a Feast From Yotam Ottolenghi

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Yield:Serves 10-20

    For the Layer Cakes

    • 15½ounces, or 440 grams, dark baking chocolate (70 percent cocoa), chopped
    • 9ounces, or 250 grams, egg yolks (the yolks from 14 or 15 large eggs)
    • 15½ounces, or 440 grams, superfine sugar
    • 14ounces, or 400 grams, egg whites (the whites from about 10 large eggs)
    • 1tablespoon brandy

    For the Ganache

    • 10 ½ounces, or 300 grams, white chocolate, chopped
    • cups heavy cream

    To Finish

    • cups heavy cream
    • 7ounces, or 200 grams, blueberries, with 8 or so set aside for garnish
    • 7ounces, or 200 grams, blackberries, with 12 or so set aside for garnish
    • 7ounces, or 200 grams, strawberries, trimmed and thinly sliced, lengthwise
    • 7ounces, or 200 grams, raspberries, with 8 or so set aside for garnish
    • Powdered sugar, to dust (optional)

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (16 servings)

621 calories; 40 grams fat; 23 grams saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 12 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 56 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 46 grams sugars; 12 grams protein; 84 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Celebration Cake Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    To make the layers for the cake, heat oven to 350. Grease and line three 10-by-14-inch jellyroll pans with parchment paper. (If you only have one, you can make the layers separately.)

  2. Step


    Put a medium-size pot with a few inches of water in it over medium heat, and bring it to a simmer. Place a large, heatproof bowl on top of the pot, making sure that the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Put the chocolate in the bowl, and melt it over the simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat, and set aside to cool slightly.

  3. Put the egg yolks and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Mix for about 3 minutes, until thick and pale, and then gently fold the mixture into the melted chocolate. Stir until almost combined, and set aside.

  4. Step


    Put the egg whites in the clean bowl of an electric mixer with a clean whisk attachment. Beat at high speed until soft peaks form, and then gently fold them into the chocolate, followed by the brandy.

  5. Step


    Divide the chocolate mixture between the 3 jellyroll pans (or pour a third of the mix into one, if you’re baking in 3 batches). Use a spatula to even out the tops or top, and place in the oven. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, until firm to touch and a skewer inserted in comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

  6. Step


    Once the cakes have cooled, place a sheet of parchment on a sheet pan, and set it over one of the finished spongecakes, then flip the whole thing over, so the sheet pan is now sitting under the cake. Remove the jellyroll pan and the used paper. Repeat with the remaining cakes, placing each on a clean sheet of parchment paper and stacking them. Wrap them well with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 24 hours.

  7. Step


    To make the ganache, place white chocolate in a large bowl and set aside. Add the cream to a medium saucepan with a heavy base and place it on medium-low heat. Cook until just starting to simmer, and then pour it over the chocolate. Allow to sit for 3 minutes or so, until the chocolate has softened, and then gently stir until the chocolate is melted and fully combined with the cream. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or for up to 3 days).

  8. Step


    To assemble the cake, put the ganache into the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Add the cream, and whip on medium-high until the mixture has achieved the consistency of soft whipped cream. (Keep a close eye on it so as not to overwhip.)

  9. Step


    Mix the berries you are not holding back for garnish in a large bowl, and set aside.

  10. Step


    Remove one sponge layer from the freezer at a time, and place on a serving platter or cutting board. Do not remove them all at once; they need to be frozen. Trim about ½ inch off all the edges to make a clean rectangle, then spread roughly ⅓ of the ganache mixture across the top of the cake. Scatter ½ of the berries on top of the ganache mixture, making sure they are evenly spread right to the edges of the cake. Trim the second sponge layer, place it on top of the first and cover it with another ⅓ of the ganache mixture and the remainder of the fruit. Remove the final layer of cake from the freezer, trim it and place it on top of the second, then spread the remaining ganache across the top of the cake, smoothing it with a palette knife. Place the fruit reserved as garnish in each corner of the cake, and dust the whole thing lightly with powdered sugar, if you like. If you’re not serving the cake right away, store in the refrigerator for a few hours, bringing it out 30 minutes before serving.



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Cooking Notes

Thomas Sherman

An excellent, well-received recipe. I divided the recipe in half and baked the three layers in 9-inch cake pans. This worked perfectly, and it was much easier to deal with, especially the freezing, although my wife misses the other half! Otherwise, I made the recipe exactly as described. Will certainly make again; very festive, beautiful and delicious.


To make easier to handle and freeze, half the recipe and bake in three 9 inch round cake pans.

Betsy Karpenkopf

One comment: the layers are not really sponge, rather a mousse cake. As far as I know, sponge cakes have some flour or breadcrumbs in them.
And I hate to say this, but this would be just perfect for a dessert at Passover.


Does anyone else have a problem with FITTING the three 10X14 layers in their freezer? I live in a NYC sized apartment and my freezer isn't that large! What about the idea of making a larger amount of smaller, even round (?) layers and piling them up for a higher, stacked cake? Any thoughts?


To stabilize the ganache, you can dissolvee 3/4t gelatin in 1 T water (let stand 5 minutes) and add to simmered cream.


Made it for a dinner party last night to rave reviews. Cut recipe in 1/2 and made 3 "roughly" 10" by 7" rectangles. Forgetting to add brandy to batter, I basted the three finished layers with brandy. I also defrosted frozen mixed berries and strawberries. I nuked the dark chocolate for about 2 minutes @70% power. I actually make my own white chocolate by nuking cacoa butter till liquid and adding confectioners sugar and Vanilla extract (takes 5 minutes)! Fabulous cake!!


I made this for a wedding shower and all but one person cleaned their plate so I view that as a success. I made three layers but only used two, which was enough. I don't really like white chocolate so I used cream cheese instead, adding a little vanilla and grated lemon zest and then folding in the whipped cream. I thought it was really good. And, I had a slice later that night for dinner and it was still in great shape so it lasts in the fridge for quite a while.

Stacy VB

@Ellen, weird disagreement. There is no flour listed in the cake recipe. It's eggs, sugar, and chocolate. So, Betsy is right.


I used 70.4 percent Callebaut chocolate for the cake and Guittard white chocolate for the ganache. In general, use the best chocolate you can find: the taste of the cake depends mostly on the chocolate, so good chocolate = good results :). It's a fantastic cake!


Great suggestion to halve recipe. I used 3 8in square pans. I also skipped the white chocolate (a gruesomely unnatural product) and just used whipped cream. Amazing recipe for my gf family and friends


There are very few "new" ideas under the sun. Someone undoubtedly did it before Martha.


I wish I had a freezer uncrowded enough that I could put the three cake layers into it!


Nice, but Martha Stewart did this 20 years ago.


Made this for passover & it was festive and delicious. As others have mentioned the large layers with such a fragile cake were fussy to work with. If I make it again I'd do smaller layers. I ended up using broken pieces to make individual layer cakes for the kids, and those were actually very pretty too. I thought the white chocolate filling was overly sweet, and added some rum to correct. Used Sharffen Berger 70% for the dark chocolate and Guittard for the white.


Actually, Noam, if you chill cans of full fat coconut milk and skim the fat off, it whips very well. It is a standard vegan sub for whipping cream. Add vanilla and sugar to taste.


I baked this in a 9"x13" pan (baking it in three steps as I only have one pan) because 10"x14" layers would not have fit in my freezer. And it worked great. I did not need to adjust the baking time. Two of the layers cracked as I was assembling the cake but no one could tell because of the ganache. Served it at a party to rave reviews. It was delicious!

lisa mcinnis

Made this last year for my daughter’s wedding. Saved a piece of the chocolate in the freezer for their first anniversary. Added mousse and fresh berries. Divine a year later.

Lisa L

Absolutely fantastic. I made this cake for my son’s second birthday and it was a big hit. I borrowed the idea from other commenters to make a cream cheese whipped cream instead of the white chocolate ganache and that was an excellent substitution. Definitely a recipe to save for a special occasion.

Barbara Marmor

I make a similar cake, and "frost" it with layers of chocolate whipped cream. Make in two sheet pans, cut each one in half, so four layers. It's beautiful, delicious and pretty darn easy.


Did this for my daughter's 18th yesterday - resounding success. I cut all quantities in half, added a pinch of salt as suggested by one commenter, and made it in three round cake tins. Although it requires planning and time, it was very straightforward. Nothing broke, and I must say mine didn't look particularly rustic, as Ottolenghi says it should! Very proud of myself. I even did some chocolate writing for the top. Will definitely do it again.


I don't have the jelly roll pans and I thought I would be able to bake it in a 9x13 pan and then slice the layers. Total disaster -- the cake is too fragile, even when frozen. It looked very rustic indeed! But with the top layer of ganache and berries, plus birthday candles, nobody noticed. It was a total hit and very delicious.


This recipe was delicious...but I think the cake needs salt. Without it it was too uniformly sweet. I'd try 1.5 tsp--it's a lot of batter. Also I used Trader Joe's 70% chocolate, which has sugar. I think the recipe should be amended to say if it's supposed to be unsweetened or not.


This cake is quite nice, not at all complicated. I made 1/2 recipe, easily serving 8-10. Used two jelly roll pans, damming one pan with an aluminum foil bridge half way, then cutting the full size cake in half after it had been frozen a couple of hours to yield the three layers. Cakes came out very thin and only took 12 min to bake. Not a fan of white chocolate but this cake is definitely a sum of more than its parts and the ganache complements the whole. Lovely and festive looking cake.


Great suggestion to halve recipe. I used 3 8in square pans. I also skipped the white chocolate (a gruesomely unnatural product) and just used whipped cream. Amazing recipe for my gf family and friends

David Morton

What a fine recipe! Made it for my wife's 60th birthday, a Celebration if ever there was one, and I earned huge points from the parents-in-law. Still found all the berries in early September, and added mint sprigs on the surface as garnish. I used semi-sweet baking chocolate and went with the full amount of fine sugar ... a tad sweet, so next time would reduce the sugar by half if using the same chocolate. The ganache was a little heavy, too, so would consider reducing the white chocolate.

Polly Westra

The layers broke at odd places when I cut the cake. Next time I'll bake 30 round "cookies " and avoid having to cut the cake. The family demanded that the recipe appear frequently!


This recipe works super well if you freeze the components separately and mix them just before they are ready to eat. This makes sure nothing gets soggy and each component maintains its freshness.

Matt Jewell

This was lovely but the finished cake is quite rich - my eyes were bigger than my stomach when I cut the pieces! We will make this again...the chocolate base and the berries are scrumptious together. A great summer recipe.


A huge hit! Everyone loved this. A few notes:
* I baked the cake in two 12x17" half sheet pans, and cut each of those in half to create four 12x8.5" layers. This worked well.
* Out of necessity, I assembled it 4 hours before we left for the party and refrigerated. It then sat out for about three hours. I was worried that it wouldn't hold up, but it did great and the leftovers still look amazing.
* I made it for a birthday party with 15 guests and we have about 1/5 leftover.

Elizabeth G.

Made this for my daughter's 20th birthday. Because it doesn't contain flour, it is light, delicious, and certainly a celebration!

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Celebration Cake Recipe (2024)


What are the 5 main ingredients in cake? ›

These basic ingredients for baking a cake are; flour, eggs, fat (usually butter), sugar, salt, a form of liquid (usually milk), and leavening agents (such as baking soda).

Why cake is important in every celebration? ›

The symbolism of cake

Cake holds a deep symbolic meaning in birthday celebrations. It represents the joy and sweetness of life, and blowing out the candles is seen as a way to make a wish for the upcoming year. The act of cutting and sharing the cake with loved ones also symbolizes sharing happiness and good fortune.

What is the best temperature to bake cake? ›

Most typical cake recipes call for an oven temperature of 350 degrees. Dense cakes (like pound cakes, bundt cakes, etc) do better at 325 degrees with a longer bake time.

What is a secret ingredient for cakes? ›

Mayonnaise: The Hidden Gem in Cake Recipes

Made up of eggs and oil, mayonnaise acts as an emulsifier, adding creaminess and moisture to your cake. This unexpected addition can take your cake recipes to a whole new level. To incorporate mayonnaise into your cake batter, simply add a couple of tablespoons to the mix.

What is the most important ingredient in a cake? ›

Top 10 Baking Essentials Ingredients For A Cake. Flour, sugar, and butter are the key ingredients for a killer cake. Eggs bind everything together, while leavening agents like baking soda or powder invite the fluff. Cocoa powder adds a chocolate kick to your bakes; dried fruits and nuts offer chewy textures.

What goes first when baking a cake? ›

Always start and end with adding dry ingredients.

Remember all that time you spent creaming your butter and sugar?! Adding the dry ingredients first and last will ensure that your creamed butter won't become saturated with too much of the liquid you are adding.

What is the history of cake celebration? ›

The Tradition Continues

Time went on, and the tradition of these round cakes for celebrating made its way to Germany. While the Egyptians and Greeks may have sparked the idea, the Germans took the idea and, in 1400-1500 C.E, began using cakes for actual birthday parties, which at the time was a very, very new concept.

Who invented cake? ›

The first cakes were very different from what we eat today. They were more bread-like and sweetened with honey. Nuts and dried fruits were often added. According to the food historians, the ancient Egyptians were the first culture to show evidence of advanced baking skills.

Why do Americans eat cake on birthdays? ›

The History of Birthday Cakes. The birthday cake tradition dates way back to the ancient Egyptians, with the celebration of their gods. Their coronation day was named as their 'birth' day. The Greeks later adopted this tradition and added a cake to the celebration.

Is it better to bake a cake at 325 or 350? ›

Some of Dawn's favorite baking tips:

Bake your cakes at 325° not 350°. This will allow your cake to rise more. Don't grease the sides of your baking pan. Greasing the sides of the pan will not allow your cake to climb the edges of the pan and grow tall.

Do you bake a cake at 350 or 375? ›

The general rule of thumb when baking is “the bigger the pan, the lower the temperature”. You bake a 9” round chocolate cake for about 30-35 minutes at 350° F (175° C).

How long does it take to bake a cake at 350? ›

Generally speaking, a sheet cake baked in a standard 9x13 inch pan will take between 25 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).

What are the 4 basic components of cake? ›

The basics of cake

Flour, sugar, egg and fat form the basic components of all cakes. Understanding the function of each of these ingredients in cake baking can give us a better idea of where we can substitute super foods such as flax, chia, or mushrooms.

What are the 7 basic ingredient categories used when baking? ›

Food Ingredients– The different ingredients used in baking are flour, refined flour or maida, sugar, shortenings, leavening agents, eggs, water, salt, milk and milk derivatives.

What are the 4 main ingredients in baking? ›

Flour, water, and leavening agents are the ingredients primarily responsible for the characteristic appearance, texture, and flavour of most bakery products. Eggs, milk, salt, shortening, and sugar are effective in modifying these qualities, and various minor ingredients may also be used.

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