The 12 Cakes of Christmas

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Italian Cream Cake decorated with chopped nuts and cherries
Photo: CHIBI CHEF

You can keep the partridges in pear trees, the leaping lords, all those drummers drumming, we'll take these 12 Christmas cakes instead. Our 12 best Christmas cakes make gorgeous holiday centerpieces.

01 of 12

Black Forest Cake II

Black Forest Cake with white frosting and cherries on top
Daniel Miller

The first cake of Christmas starts things off with a kick. It's a rich chocolate cake, soaked in Kirsch liquor, and layered with a cherry filling. Send it to your true love if you like, or just be sweet to yourself.

02 of 12

Italian Cream Cake II

Italian Cream Cake decorated with chopped nuts and cherries
CHIBI CHEF

The second cake of Christmas crosses the Alps into Italy. And then gets on a boat and comes to the American South, which is, reportedly, where Italian Cream Cake originates. But no matter its origin, this moist buttermilk cake is a delicious and beautiful Christmas cake. One for the coconut and pecan lovers.

03 of 12

Date Nut Loaf Cake

date nut loaf cake cut into slices
Denise Hoyte

With the third cake of Christmas we enter into dried fruit and nut territory. Such a classic Christmas combo. Here, chopped dates and walnuts are fashioned into a simple quick bread and served with a warm brown sugar sauce.

04 of 12

Mom's Rum Cake

slice of rum cake on a white plate
cookin'mama

The recipe submitter, Laura, says of our fourth cake of Christmas, "I got this cake from my mom. When she makes it, we all fight over it. It's delicious and easy to make." Christmas being a holiday of peace, we can't recommend cake-related family rumbles. But the cake itself is five-stars all the way; a simple, wonderfully moist creation that starts with mixes of yellow cake and vanilla pudding plus a healthy portion of rum and pecans.

Bake your rum cake in this classic Bundt pan ($33 at BedBathandBeyond.com) to make it instantly festive.

05 of 12

Figgy Pudding

figgy pudding with icing drizzle
Binny123

This fifth cake of Christmas, figgy pudding goes back to 16th century England. The word "pudding" may give you the wrong impression. This particular pudding is actually a dense, moist cake flavored with nutmeg and cinnamon, orange marmalade, and of course lots of figs. Taste it, and you'll understand why Christmas carolers famously shout, "We won't go until we get some! We won't go until we get some!"

06 of 12

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

pudding cake topped with toffee sauce
Hanny Manny

Here's another Christmas pudding cake. No figs here, but plenty of dates, and it's crowned with a wonderful homemade caramel sauce. Interesting tidbit about Christmas pudding: It's also called Plum Pudding. But hold onto your Christmas stockings because there are no plums in plum pudding. In merry Old England, the word "plum" meant those little dried fruits that we call raisins.

07 of 12

Carrot Cake III

side view of a cake with frosting between two layers and on top, garnished with pecan halves and chopped pecans
sarah

The seventh cake of Christmas gives a shout-out to the vegetable kingdom, which is just so under-represented in the dessert category. Topped with cream cheese and pecans, it's a moist, marvelous cake. The tradition of adding carrots to cakes goes back to medieval times. Sugar was not cheap or easily procured. Carrots, on the other hand, were relatively abundant, inexpensive, and actually quite sweet.

08 of 12

Buche de Noel

a Yule log decorated with chocolate "bark", meringue mushrooms, and confectioners' sugar snow
kaolinite

This eight cake of Christmas is one for the arts-and-crafts crowd. The yule log is truly one of the quintessential Christmas cakes. You may also know it as "bûche de Noël." The recipe submitter describes it as "a heavenly flourless chocolate cake rolled with chocolate whipped cream."

09 of 12

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake decorated with raspberries on top
Alberta Rose

Cheesecake is a holiday classic. Any holiday. This rich and creamy cheesecake goes all out with white chocolate and a homemade raspberry sauce. Some reviewers have skipped the from-scratch sauce, replacing it with seedless raspberry jam.

Need a 9-inch springform pan (you will for this recipe). This $20 pan from Target.com comes in holly jolly red!

10 of 12

Favorite Old Fashioned Gingerbread

Old Fashioned Gingerbread
Rachelle Shockey

Our tenth cake of Christmas needs no introduction. The recipe submitter, Charles, calls it "everyone's holiday favorite, even the busy cook's, because it's so easy to make." That about sums it up. Fun fact: An Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, introduced Europe to gingerbread way back in the late 10th century. Monk and, as it turns out, baking teacher, Gregory of Nicopolis taught French students how to bake gingerbread in his spare time.

11 of 12

Fruitcake

mini loaves of fruit cake dusted with confectioners sugar
Smart Cookie

You know the joke: There's really only one fruitcake in the world, and every year it's passed from family to family. Good stuff. But truly, there's just no reason that fruitcakes should suffer such seasonal mockery. Delicious candied fruits and nuts and a cake soaked in rum or brandy? Yes, please. Be warned, however, this particular cake must age for 6 to 7 weeks. If you have the time, it's worth the wait.

12 of 12

Flourless Chocolate Cake I

a slice of fudgy-looking chocolate cake with raspberry sauce
Dianne

For the last of our 12 cakes of Christmas, we've chosen a classic flourless chocolate cake. The holidays give us permission to indulge, and this rich, dense, utterly elegant (and gluten-free) chocolate cake fits the bill.

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