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Buttermilk Back-to-School Cake

School is virtual this year, so instead of anticipating packing new school supplies, finding a new classroom, and meeting new friends, we’re navigating online class passwords, connectivity challenges, and learning how to avoid accidentally un-muting at the wrong time.

Back-to-school cake is needed now more than ever. It’s been chocolate in prior years, but this moist, delicious buttermilk cake is more to Leo’s taste.

For a chocolate cake, substitute cocoa powder for 1/2 cup of the flour.

Yield: 9 generous servings Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Chocolate Back-to-School Cake

Our son started Kindergarten this year, and I was excited to adopt a tradition of Joanna Goddard’s – celebrating the beginning of the school year with a cake.

This single-layer 8-inch square cake serves a small family a treat the night before school starts with enough leftover for the next night as well. It’s an easy recipe to make on a weeknight and is absolutely delicious. Rainbow sprinkles add a sweet touch of celebration.

For a non-chocolate option, try Buttermilk Back-to-School Cake.

Yield: 8 servings Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Jamy’s Apple Crumb Cake

Apple desserts aren’t always my favorite (I’ll choose chocolate every time), but this apple crumb cake is sooooo good. It has quite a few components (shortbread base, thinly sliced apples, custardy sauce, and crumb topping) and is a labor of love, but it’s a special dessert that’s worth the work.

Serve with a German Riesling.

Yield: 8 servings Total time: 2 hours

Grandma’s Italian Cream Cake

This white cake made with buttermilk, coconut, pecans, and cream cheese frosting is my mother’s favorite. She recently found Grandma’s hand-written recipe – Grandma always served an Italian Cream Cake at the family’s Thanksgiving feast.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings Total time: 2 hours

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake

This cheesecake, with a gingersnap crust, pumpkin filling, and salted caramel sauce, is a beautiful holiday dessert, and serves enough to take to a party.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings Total time: 6 hours 30 minutes

Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Yield: 12 to 16 servings Total time: 2 hours

Chai Latte Cupcakes

These dairy-free cupcakes are spiced with tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper.

Yield: 12 cupcakes Total time: 40 minutes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ginger & Orange

These look like simple chocolate cupcakes, but they have their secrets. Mixing the batter, which contains baking soda and vinegar, brings back joyful memories of elementary school science project volcanoes. Your first bite reveals the flavors of orange and ginger, which complement the chocolate and add a bit of exotic personality. And they’re dairy- and egg-free, which makes them the perfect treat to share with vegan friends.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Jan’s Chocolate Sheet Cake

This chocolate sheet cake is the perfect dish to bring to a family potluck.

Yield: 24 servings Total time: 1 hour

Mom’s Strawberry Cake

One weekend while we were sharing a house with our roommate, Randy, Mom came to visit and brought this super-moist pink cake. We all loved it, and several months later Randy asked if we could get the recipe and make another one.

Start with strawberry cake made from a boxed mix, soak it with a mixture of condensed milk and coconut milk, and top it with whipped cream.

Yield: 15 servings Total time: 2 hours