16 Summery Cake Recipes for the 4th of July and Beyond

American Flag Cake. Photo credit Mark Weinberg for Food52

From American flag cake and streusel to chocolate, olive oil and ricotta, and upside-down sheet cake, the best cakes of summer are here.

1. American Flag Cake

I couldn’t round up the best Fourth of July-ready cakes without putting this American flag cake from Eric McDowell right at the very top. It takes a little bit of maneuvering (and math) to achieve that red, white, and blue surprise inside, but luckily there’s a video to guide you every step of the way.

2. Nigella Lawson’s Very Smart Strawberry Streusel Cake

In this clever, sweet-tart strawberry cake from Nigella Lawson, a single dough does double the work. That means you can make your crumbly streusel topping and moist cake all from the same mixture.

Nigella Lawson’s Very Smart Strawberry Streusel Cake. Photo credit Linda Xiao for Food52

3. Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake

This lovely layer cake—in which both the base layer and Italian buttercream frosting are lightly flavored with lemon—is perfect for special occasions. The raspberry jam sandwiched between makes it feel especially at home during the Fourth of July.

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake. Photo credit Mark Weinberg for Food52

4. Light, Fluffy Butter Cake

This crowd-favorite cake delivers on everything its title promises: it’s rich and buttery, but doesn’t feel heavy thanks to its airy texture. Best of all, it’s got a simple ingredients list that makes it accessible to many home cooks.

Light, Fluffy Butter Cake. Photograph courtesy of Food52

5. Simple Summer Peach Cake

This extra-simple cake recipe highlights the best that summer has to offer, the most important of which is ripe, seasonal peaches. Make a few of these for your big summer holiday and I guarantee every slice will be gone.

Simple Summer Peach Cake. Photo credit James Ransom for Food52

6. Louisa’s Cake with Peaches

Speaking of peaches, this peachy riff on Louisa’s ethereally light and fluffy cake (it’s one of our all-time most popular recipes) is perfect for any warm-weather gathering. But I especially like it for the Fourth of July, as that’s when peach season hits its peak.

Louisa’s Cake With Peaches. Photo credit Rocky Luten for Food52

7. “World’s Best Cake” with Banana & Coconut

This towering beauty is stacked with layers of whipped cream, fresh banana slices, and a fragrant, spiced cake—oh, and don’t forget the golden-brown meringue topping and toasty coconut flakes—before getting cooled in the refrigerator an hour before serving.

“World’s Best Cake” with Banana & Coconut. Photo credit James Ransom for Food52

8. S’mores Layer Cake

Few things evoke the nostalgia of summer more strongly than gooey, chocolatey s’mores roasted over an open fire. But if an open flame is out of the cards this Fourth of July, bake up this s’mores layer cake instead, which calls on chocolate ganache, whipped marshmallow frosting, and a graham cake to bring all those familiar flavors to the party.

S’mores Layer Cake. Photo credit Erin McDowell for Food52

9. Perfect Chocolate Cake

If chocolate’s more your vibe, you’ll want to make this simple cocoa-packed number (complete with thick chocolate frosting) for the holiday. It is, in a word, perfect.

Perfect Chocolate Cake. Photo credit James Ransom for Food52

10. Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Plums

There are just two things you need to do to make this tasty olive oil cake shine: use super-ripe plums (if they’re too firm, you’ll notice later) and don’t worry about sifting the flour (according to the recipe author, you can’t tell the difference).

Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Plums. Photo credit Eric Moran for Food52

11. Strawberry Not-So-Short Cake

Make this bright and colorful not-so-short cake the centerpiece of your Fourth of July celebration, and kids and adults alike will be impressed.

Erin McDowell’s Strawberry Not-So-Short Cake. Photo credit Julia Gartland for Food52

12. “Coke & Peanuts” Sheet Cake

For an even bigger dose of nostalgia, make this “coke and peanuts” sheet cake, which really does call for both Coca-Cola and roasted, salted peanuts in the recipe. Odd though the combination may sound, the ingredients team up to make a rich yet fluffy cake with some of the best frosting you will ever find.

“Coke & Peanuts” Sheet Cake. Photo credit Ty Mecham for Food52

13. Banana Pudding Icebox Cake

If the weather is shaping up to be especially hot on the Fourth of July, make this banana pudding ice box cake—it’s just five ingredients, no-bake, and, thanks to a stint in the freezer, extra refreshing.

Banana Pudding Icebox Cake. Photo credit Rocky Luten for Food52

14. Pistachio Cake with Lemon, Cardamom & Rose Water

If you want to bake something with a bit of added sophistication for the holiday, make this delicate pistachio cake with the slightest hints of lemon, warm cardamom, and floral rose water.

Pistachio Cake with Lemon, Cardamom, and Rose Water. Photo credit Mark Weinberg for Food52

15. Heavenly Apple Cake

Instead of making an apple pie, however classic it may be, try this heavenly apple cake. It stays fresh and moist for days (meaning you can easily make it ahead of time), and it’s totally irresistible.

Heavenly Apple Cake. Photo credit James Ransom for Food52

16. Orange Upside-Down Sheet Cake

This eye-popping upside-down cake might be beautiful to look at, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a bite. You can use any type of oranges you like, but the recipe’s author recommends using a combination of whatever is in season.

Orange Upside-Down Sheet Cake. Photograph by Julia Gartland for Food52

This post originally ran on Food52 on June 17, 2019.