layered-tessa-huff-coverWe’ve all been there. The approaching holiday is weeks away; Plenty of time to put together some baking ideas and to plan out what you’ll bring to a festive party. Then work, family and just life in general begins to fill your days and nights. And before you know it, it’s the Friday before a holiday and you’re scrambling to find that one go-to recipe you love that you know is easy to make and doesn’t require too much work. Then you think just once, you’d like to bring something different, something super yummy! If you’ve found yourself in this boat on more than one occasion and if you realize you’re running out of time as you prepare for Easter weekend, we’ve got a little advice from cake baker extraordinaire Tessa Huff.

Huff is a former cake shop owner who turned her love of food and photography into a career and started the successful blog And now she can add author to that list of accomplishments as her first cookbook, Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes (Abrams Books, April 19) hits shelves in just a couple of weeks.

Huff graciously answered our burning questions for the best and quickest ways to whip up a beautiful cake.

BookTrib: For anyone on the go, what’s the best thing to bring to a holiday spring soiree?

tessa_huffTessa Huff: If you are willing and able to do some of the assembly on site, then I would suggest a simple sponge cake with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries. The cake may be made and stored (wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator) up to about five days in advance. The cream can either be whipped up to about eight hours before or even on location (it only takes a few minutes to make fluffy whipped cream if your host/hostess has a stand mixer you can borrow). When you arrive, simply layer the cakes with whipped cream, add fresh berries on a pretty cake plate or serving dish, garnish with some fresh mint or herbs (optional) and there you go!

Too hands-on for you?  Pick up a seasonal fruit tart and/or some colorful macarons. Both are always fresh, fun and stunning to display.

BT: What cake or baked good is not too difficult to whip up and looks great?

TH: If you are looking for an impressive cake but don’t want to fuss with too much frosting, try an icing-less or “naked” cake. Layer your favorite cake with a simple filling (try plain or flavored buttercream, cream cheese frosting or even just fruit preserves), but leave the sides exposed. Instead of frosting the entire outside, decorate the cake with fresh flowers, seasonal fruit, candied citrus, chocolate shavings or whatever you like!