“Let them eat cake” is the most famous quote attributed to Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, during the French Revolution.

As the story goes, around 1789 this was her response upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread. Oblivious to the hardships of her subjects, this statement made her one of the most disliked rulers in history.

Another quote concerning cakes, comes from during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Just bake a cake, and everything will be OK.” When I read this one, I could not help but smile. During the past year, more and more people have taken to cooking at home. Desserts have been one of the most popular things to prepare.

I consider myself a pretty good cook. I do, however, have my weak points. Making layer cakes is one of them. The first time I made my husband his favorite cake, chocolate with white frosting, it was a catastrophe — smelled and tasted great but looked awful! After I frosted it, I left the kitchen and came back about an hour later. The frosting had run off the cake, over the edge of the cake plate and was oozing down the kitchen cabinet. After that tragic cake event, I decided to purchase a layer cake if I needed one.

Some of my favorite cakes are recipes that call for layers. I quickly figured out that I could make them in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, and the frosting wasn’t going anywhere.

When making the transition from layers to a sheet cake, choose a recipe that calls for baking the batter in two or three layers of 8-inch or 9-inch pans. This is about 6 cups of batter and is the perfect amount for a 13-by-9-inch pan. Always grease the pan well. I like to use cooking spray especially for baking. Baking time will increase to about 45 to 55 minutes. Check the cake early and often, depending on the recipe. The center of the cake should spring back to the touch. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. In general, the frosting amount for a layer cake should suffice for your sheet cake.

Three of my favorite cake recipes are for layer cakes. I have transposed them to make a 13-by-9-inch cake. They work out perfectly and make my cake baking stress free. I hope you will give them a try. Thanks for reading.

STRAWBERRY CAKE

1 box white cake mix

1 tablespoon flour

1 small package strawberry Jell-O

¾ cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

½ cup water

1 (10-ounce) package frozen sliced strawberries, thawed

1 stick butter, softened

1 box powdered sugar

Mix cake mix, flour and Jell-O. Add oil, and beat in eggs. Add water and ½ of the frozen strawberries. Mix well, and pour into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Cool completely and frost.

Frosting: Mix the softened butter with remaining strawberries and powdered sugar.

MANDARIN ORANGE CAKE

Cake:

1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix

4 eggs

½ cup vegetable oil

1 (8-ounce) can mandarin oranges, undrained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Combine all cake ingredients, and mix well. Pour into prepared baking pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely and frost.

Frosting:

1 (16-ounce) Cool Whip

1 small box vanilla instant pudding mix

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained well

Mix all ingredients together, and frost cooled cake. Keep refrigerated.

EASY CARROT CAKE

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 (4-ounce) jars carrot baby food

4 eggs, well beaten

1½ cups vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir until well blended. Add carrot baby food, eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Pour into prepared 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until tests for doneness. Cool and frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 stick butter, softened

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, and mix until smooth. Then, add pecans. Frost cooled cake.

(You can also use a can of vanilla frosting and add vanilla and pecans.)

• Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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