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Anna Stockwell Baked 50 Cakes While Writing Her Cookbook — and Used This Clever Tool Every Time

Photo: Chelsea Kyle/

In developing and shooting recipes for her just-released cookbook, For the Table, Anna Stockwell made each of its five nine-inch round cake recipes “probably ten times,” she says. They are, after all, her dessert of choice to serve at the end of a dinner party — and flawlessly executed dinner parties are exactly what the book is about. Whether you’re hosting four or ten people, a round cake (ideally presented on a cake stand) turns any meal into an occasion and, as such, is Stockwell’s “go-to dinner-party move.”

But just because a homemade cake is impressive doesn’t mean it has to be burdensome to pull together. Stockwell’s recipes, including the one below for Orange Sunshine Cake, are simple and approachable, in some cases requiring only one bowl and, in others, not much more equipment than that. She does let herself get a bit specialized with precut parchment rounds, however. Although not strictly necessary, they’re a small luxury that makes the whole process much smoother by fitting snugly into pans and adding an “extra piece of insurance” so you’re not left with “big craters of cake sticking to the bottom,” Stockwell explains.

Trimming the correctly sized round from a roll or even a half-sheet of parchment can be a pain. Some bakers use the trace-and-cut method, while Stockwell, before finding the rounds on Amazon, used the fold-into-a-triangle-and-snip method. “But I was always ending up with the wrong size,” she says. “I would have to adjust, trying to get the perfect circle. Inevitably, it slowed me down, and there were shards of paper all over my kitchen. It was a waste of time.”

Now Stockwell makes sure she’s never without these rounds. “I was just in Vermont hosting my mom’s 70th-birthday party,” she says of the last time she used them. “There were two nights of celebrations, which meant I had to bake four cakes because there were so many people. So of course, I traveled with my collection of two nine-inch cake pans and my box of parchment cake rounds. They just make life so much easier.”

How to Make Stockwell’s Orange Sunshine Cake

In a small pot, cover one large navel orange in water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and let simmer for two hours until the orange is quite mushy but still holds its shape. Remove from the water and let cool. This can be done up to two days in advance. Chill the orange until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a nine-inch pan with parchment and grease all sides with cooking spray or oil. Purée the orange in a food processor with one and a half cups granulated sugar until smooth. Add six large eggs, two and a quarter cups almond flour, two teaspoons grated fresh ginger, one teaspoon kosher salt, one teaspoon baking powder, and half a teaspoon ground turmeric, and purée until smooth. Transfer to the prepared pan.

Bake until the top of the cake is lightly golden brown and springs back when touched, 45 to 50 minutes. Slide a paring knife gently around the edges of the cake to release it from the sides, then let cool completely in the pan. Invert onto a flat plate, then invert again onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

The cake keeps for up to two days covered at room temperature.

Recipe excerpt from the new book For the Table: Easy, Adaptable, Crowd-Pleasing Recipes, by Anna Stockwell, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 by Anna Stockwell. Photography by Chelsea Kyle.

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The Clever Cake-Baking Tool You Never Knew You Needed