This Shapeshifting Cake Batter Is the Ultimate Party Trick

With this genius base recipe, if you can make one cake flavor, you can make six — and just by adding, never subtracting or swapping.

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Cake Opener shot

So many "customizable" recipes ask you to rely on intuition — and more than a little bit of extra math: Try this nut instead of this one, but chop it into smaller pieces and don't overdo it. Take out some of the flour and add cocoa powder instead. Add lemon juice, but don't forget to cut back on the buttermilk.

We're not saying you can't handle that (you can, smarties!), but it breaks the magic spell for us. How many ingredients can you swap before a mix-and-match recipe just becomes a new recipe entirely?

Do-It-All Cake Batter

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

So when we set out to create our Do-it-All Cake Batter, we wanted to nail a truly build-upon-able base. We wanted you to be able add flavors and textures without worrying about taking anything away. We got creative with mix-ins, layering, and even a couple super-easy glazes — and we think this tact resulted in some pretty fun cakes, if we do say so ourselves.

Get the detailed recipe for Do-it-All Cake Batter (and all its wonderful iterations) here, but here's an eye-popping taste of what will be waiting for you when the oven timer goes off. We hope it inspires you to dream up your own versions too — let us know if you create something really delicious. 😊

Bonus: Cook this cake (err, cakes!) along with us on the Food Network Kitchen app! Culinary producer Ali Clarke will walk you through the steps and demonstrate just how clever this cake is.

Vanilla Cake

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

1. Vanilla Cake

This is where it all begins — a super-solid vanilla cake perfect for stacking and icing with whatever flavor frosting you like. And fittingly, it's also the essential building block for all the following variations too.

Chocolate Cake

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

2. Chocolate Cake

Take the base cake batter (good ol' vanilla) and add unsweetened dark cocoa powder, melted bittersweet chocolate and brewed coffee (it brings extra depth to the chocolate flavor). And there you have it — vanilla cake batter morphed into a deeply rich chocolate cake with only adding ingredients, not taking them away.

Confetti Cake

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

3. Confetti Cake

This might be the oldest trick in the baking book, but it's a good one — mix rainbow sprinkles into the base cake batter to make it party-ready. We added an extra teaspoon of vanilla too to nail that nostalgic, birthday-cake flavor.

Raspberry Jam Swirl Cake

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

4. Raspberry Jam Swirl Cake

This next iteration takes the base cake batter and swirls jam into it. You could absolutely layer and frost this cake (what a moist, show-stopping cake that would be!), but your friends will still reach for seconds if you serve it naked. We might just like it better that way — it's understated and surprising. We chose raspberry jam here, but any flavor will do.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

5. Lemon Poppyseed Cake

OK, now we're getting into the real shapeshifting. The base cake mixture gets amped up with lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppyseeds. Plus, while it's in the oven you can whip up a quick glaze — just lemon juice and confectioners' sugar. Drizzle it over the cake after it's cooled, and you've got a dessert fit for any spring party.

Coffee Cake

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

6. Coffee Cake

This version's all about the layering — you start with the base batter, but sprinkle it with a streusel (flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and a little salt). While it's baking, stir up a glaze with some maple syrup, water and confectioners' sugar. The result is a tasty creation that easily rivals any coffee cake recipe — but is likely fewer steps!

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