Candy Cane Cake

Candy Cane Cake

I let my kids run wild on Pinterest earlier this month, looking for inspiration on holiday baking. It may have permanently shifted the app’s algorithm so all I ever see is sugar from here on out. But that’s okay – they found some pretty cute stuff. (And teacher’s gifts are going to be sweet!) While I tend to favour simple, not too sweet, not too cutey-cute desserts, they like cookies and cakes to look like Vegas showgirls. For them, there is no such thing as too many sprinkles. And you know what? It’s Christmas, so I’m going to give them what they want. Because they sure as hell aren’t getting iPhones and that’s their hearts other desire.

As we were building this candy cane cake on set, I couldn’t decide how far to go with decorations. So we decided to show all of them to you and you can choose your own adventure. I thought I’d like the first and most basic one best, but I have to confess that I’m sweet on that heart. You might think this cake is all about that candy but you’d be wrong. This is an incredible chocolate cake. It’s a Joy of Baking recipe, and as always, it’s a winner. (I have never not had her recipes work out perfectly.) The cake is tender, moist and that little bit of coffee really amplifies the chocolatey-ness.

Which version would you make? Let us know if you give it a try. Tag us on Instagram or Facebook – we love to see what you’re making.

photo by Ashley Van Der Laan

Candy Cane Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: serves 8


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup coffee or espresso
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Icing
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 4 to 6 candy canes for decoration


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure your rack is in the middle of the oven. Prepare two 9-inch pans (either lightly grease with butter or spray). Line the bottom of the pans with a circle of parchment (it doesn't have to be perfect!).

In a large bowl, place sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt and combine thoroughly.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, water, coffee, oil and vanilla.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until everything is combined. Pour batter evenly into your prepared baking pans. If you really want them exactly even, use a scale but I just eye ball it.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely. Do not even think of icing the cake until they have come to room temperature!

To make the icing, start by beating the softened butter for at least two minutes until it is light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar (otherwise it will fly every where) and keep beating at high speed. Reduce the speed and add the milk and vanilla until you have a texture you like.

Place your first layer of cake on the plate or stand you'd like to serve it on. Scoop about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of icing onto the top. Using an off-set spatula, spread it evenly right to the edge of the cake.

Carefully place your second layer of cake on top. Scoop about 1/2 cup of icing on top and spread it very thinly over the top of the cake, pushing it all the way to the edges and over. You may need a bit more for the sides.You're just making a very thin layer, called a crumb layer, so don't worry about making it perfect. Let the cake set, preferably in the fridge, for 15 minutes of so.

Now heap the rest of the icing on top of the cake. Use your spatula to move the icing out to the edges and down the sides. Make it smooth, make it swirly, this is your cake!

Place 3 or 4 candy canes in a zip lock bag, put the bag on a cutting board and give it a good bash with a rolling pin. It looks nice if the pieces are uneven.

Decorate the cake with crushed candy canes or whole candy canes.


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