17 Creative Ways To Use Leftover Cake

Various types of cake
Various types of cake - Static Media / Shutterstock

The process of whipping up a birthday cake is ridiculously time-consuming. Not only do you have to ensure your cake sponge is perfectly moist and soft, but you also have to prepare a grit-free frosting with the perfect ratio of sweet to decadent. Add the challenge of decorations that never seemingly go to plan, and you'll have a dessert fit for a king.

And honestly, there isn't anything more unfortunate than to watch the cake that you devoted so much time and energy to sit on your countertop after all of your guests "only want a small sliver." It means that you'll inevitably have to toss the rest -- unless you can find a good use for it. As prolific cake bakers, we've racked our brains with how to put the rest of our cake to good use, frosting and all. Here are some of our favorite ways to recycle our cakes into something both new and tasty.

Read more: 30 Types Of Cake, Explained

Crumble It Into Your Brownie Recipe

Brownie squares on plate and wire rack
Brownie squares on plate and wire rack - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

We will forever be a big fan of Franken-desserts, which are merely a combination of our favorite sweets in a single serving. From brookies (brownie cookies) to tiramisu cheesecake, there's a lot to love about these dessert hybrids. But nothing replaces crumbling leftover cake into your brownie batter to make a flavorful and textural masterpiece.

The key for this recipe is to use dried cake -- preferably one teetering on the edge of staleness. The drier the cake, the easier it will absorb into the batter and infuse its flavors. Start by carefully folding the crumbled cake into the brownie batter (boxed or homemade are both acceptable) before pouring it into the pan and baking. You can explore different flavors based on the cake you have hanging around. Decadent devil's food cake and chocolate cake are both standard options, while a strawberry or a funfetti cake can infuse some excitement into your otherwise boring tray of brownies.

Stack It Into A Trifle For An Easy Dessert

Berry trifle with cake
Berry trifle with cake - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Trifle is one of our favorite crowd-pleasing desserts to make for all ages. Not only can you add basically anything to your trifle, but you can also make the components ahead of time and assemble them right before you're about to serve them. This recipe is a great way to make light of a total cake fail or use up whatever cake you have left on your counter after a dinner party. Pound cake, marble cake, red velvet cake, and plain ol' vanilla cake all make great options for this take on a classic British dessert.

If you're feeling like a dark and mysterious recipe, try a black forest trifle. You can swap out the Swiss rolls with frosted chocolate cake, which will pair so well with the cherries and Kirsch. You can also go with a plain chocolate trifle accented with chocolate flakes.

Skip Starbucks And Make Cake Pops

Cake pops with sprinkles
Cake pops with sprinkles - Juriskraulis/Getty Images

Are we back in 2010? Although cake pops may be long past their heyday, it's still a great way to use up both the cake and frosting components of your dessert. You'll first want to separate the cake from the frosting. Grind the cake into small crumbs with your hands before incrementally adding the frosting. When making cake pops, it's important not to flop all of the frosting right into the bowl with the crumbs, as you'll only need enough frosting to bring the crumbs together into balls. If you add too much, the pops won't hold together -- which will make dipping them into the melted chocolate a nightmare.

There are many different possibilities for flavoring your pops. During the fall, you'll love pumpkin spiced cake pops made with leftover pumpkin cake. Or, stick with a Starbucks copycat with vanilla cake, vanilla frosting, and pink candy melts.

Make Frozen Mousse Bombs

Chocolate mousse in glass with spoon
Chocolate mousse in glass with spoon - Ruizluquepaz/Getty Images

Frozen mousse bombs are a great way to use up leftover cake. And the best part is no one will know that you only made it to make more space on your counter. You'll want to start with a silicon dome mold filled with melted chocolate. Then, you'll need to place your mold into the freezer so that the chocolate firms up. Meanwhile, you can prepare your mousse and cut out small pieces of cake to put in the center of the molds and pipe around it with the smooth mousse filling. After another few hours in your freezer, they're good to pop out of the tray and enjoy.

These mousse bombs are more versatile than you'd think. Although chocolate mousse is a popular option, you can also make vanilla, lemon, or fruity-flavored mousse instead. Paired with a complementary cake and white chocolate or candy melts, you can make it super delicious.

Transform Them Into Cake Truffles

Hand holding chocolate-covered truffles
Hand holding chocolate-covered truffles - Vladimir Iakovenko/Shutterstock

Making use of leftover food is all about getting creative. For example, cake pops aren't the only way to use up leftover cake — you can also make truffles. Instead of letting out frustrated sighs when your cake pops don't stick perfectly to the lollipop sticks, roll the cake with melted chocolate and icing to make simple, bite-sized truffles.

Unlike cake pops, this is one recipe where you can pack on the icing. It will help keep the balls together and create a soft, truffle-like bite into every one of them. Once you've coated your truffles in a layer of melted chocolate or candy melts, you can roll them easily in a bowl of sprinkles or cocoa powder. Alternatively, you can also create elaborate chocolate designs with a piping bag. If you bring a tray of these sneaky leftover treats to a party, we doubt anyone would know that these truffles were made with recycled birthday cake.

Make Cake Chunks For Your Homemade Ice Cream

Chocolate ice cream in container
Chocolate ice cream in container - Mediterranean/Getty Images

The problem we consistently have with store-bought ice cream is that there's never enough stuff in it -- unless, of course, you're talking about Ben and Jerry's. The easy remedy to this issue is making your own homemade ice cream chock-full of add-ins instead. The go-to method for incorporating cake pieces into ice cream is to fold them into the ice cream using a sturdy spatula rather than layering it in the freezing vessel. This will give you the optimal distribution of cake pieces and ensures every bite is filled with euphoria -- or whatever Ben and Jerry's says.

You'll also want to prepare the cake by cutting it into small cubes, rather than a fine powder, before adding it to your recipe. Pop the cubes into your freezer for at least half an hour before you add them to your ice cream to prevent them from breaking even more. The flavors you select are up to you, but we recommend going without the frosting for this recipe for the best texture.

Toss It On The Griddle For Unforgettable French Toast

French toast with fresh blueberries
French toast with fresh blueberries - Nodar Chernishev/Shutterstock

Your leftover cake is probably not the first thing you think of when making breakfast, but it's the secret ingredient to making absolutely unforgettable French toast. You'll want to opt for a sturdy type of cake for this recipe (sorry, Genoise sponge and angel food cake), like a pound cake or a fruit cake, since it will absorb the custard better and produce a more consistent texture when it's cooked. When your griddle is hot and good to go, gently place each cake slice into the custard, flip to get both sides coated, and pop it onto the greased surface. In only a few minutes, your cake will be made into something a little more acceptable to eat before 8 am.

Once your cake comes off the griddle, you can top it with your favorite complementary toppings, like whole berries, maple syrup, or powdered sugar. If you have leftover cream cheese icing, you can also dilute it a little bit and pour it right onto the cake. It's a great way to save a dry cake and breathe new life into your breakfast.

Use Leftover Cake As A Substitution In Bread Pudding

Bread pudding in dish
Bread pudding in dish - Wsmahar/Getty Images

Although people under the age of 30 may not have ever made bread pudding at home, we can assure you that it is one of the easiest (and tastiest) desserts to make. It's also a great way to use almost any ingredient in your bread drawer or pantry. But, instead of reaching for a stale baguette or day-old brioche buns, use your leftover cake instead.

You'll want to start by cutting up your cake into small cubes. The type of cake you choose is really up to you, but regardless, you'll want to make sure it's dry to the touch. This ensures that it will soak up the custard mixture more effectively and hold on to all of that delicious buttery, eggy flavor that makes bread pudding so beloved. Then, cover the cubes with your custard mixture and bake until the entire dish is completely set.

Swap It For Ladyfingers In Tiramisu

Tiramisu on plate with fork
Tiramisu on plate with fork - Fascinadora/Shutterstock

Tiramisu is a popular Italian dessert made by stacking coffee-soaked ladyfingers with mascarpone, whipped cream, and a dusting of cocoa powder. But if you forget to grab a pack of ladyfingers biscuits at the store, you can always turn to your leftover cake. While it won't have the exact same texture as a tray of the classic recipe from your local Italian bakery, it will do in a pinch.

Start by slicing your cake pieces into slices. The key to making a good tiramisu -- or at least a recipe that will pass as somewhat close to the original -- is to use a sturdy, pound-cake-like base. It soaks up the coffee well and won't break into tiny pieces like a fragile variety would. Alternatively, you can also play with the flavors of a robust sponge cake; chocolate sponge paired with coffee is just one heavenly combination. Brush the cake with the freshly brewed coffee before stacking on your other cheese layers.

Transform It Into A Pie Crust

Apple pie surrounded by apples and leaves
Apple pie surrounded by apples and leaves - Anna Fedorova_it/Shutterstock

Is it cake? Is it pie? The world may never know! While graham crackers may be a popular option for pie crusts, your leftover cake crumbs will take your recipe to a new level. You'll want to first separate your cake pieces from the frosting and pop your slices into the food processor. Then, slowly add a bit of melted butter to the bowl and stir until your crumbs are sticky and able to be pressed into the pie plate. From there, you can bake your crust in the oven just long enough to hold itself together while you prepare your fillings.

This pie crust makes a great base for a no-bake cheesecake. Plus, you can tweak the recipe slightly to make the most of your leftover cake. Chocolate cake is always a great option because it infuses mildly sweet cocoa notes into your recipe, while red velvet makes a heavenly cheesecake base.

Pop It In Your Waffle Maker For Crispy Edges

Waffles in iron with plate
Waffles in iron with plate - Burnosova Sveta/Shutterstock

We would happily host a television show entitled "Does it waffle?" to see all of the insane things that people have tried to cook in a waffle iron. Leftover cake is certainly one item that you may have doubts about, but we can assure you it's worth trying. Remove all of the icing from your cake slices (which would otherwise splatter, burn, and smell dreadful) and place the wedges onto the greased, hot iron until golden brown. The key to making this recipe is not to overstuff your waffle iron, as it will be tough to get the perfect amount of color.

Once your waffle is out of the appliance, you can top it with your favorite sliced fruit or dip it in chocolate for a kid-friendly snack. Or, add extra milk to your icing to transform it into a thin glaze and spread it on top of your caked-out waffles.

Recycle It For Ice Cream Cake

Slice of ice cream cake
Slice of ice cream cake - Seng Kui Lim/Getty Images

We will be the first to admit that ice cream cake is one of our least favorite foods. But we do give it credit for being an excellent way to make the most of leftover cake -- and appease eaters under the age of 10.

The easy way to make ice cream cake is to layer your favorite ice cream and cake flavors in a loaf or square baking pan. Since you likely aren't using full sheets of cake to concoct this recipe, you'll want to be as judicious as possible to get even layers of cake so that you'll get a bit of both cake and ice cream in every bite. This may involve slicing the cake into thin strips or small cubes. Another tip that will make your ice cream cake much easier to shape is to pop your ice cream on the countertop for a little bit to soften before attempting to spread it on your cake. Top your recycled dessert with chopped cookies, candies, or sweet syrups.

Crumble And Use It As A Decoration For Other Baked Goods

Red velvet bundt cake crumbs
Red velvet bundt cake crumbs - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Recycling your cake for purely aesthetic reasons is still just as valid as making an entirely new dish. Plus, it's a great way to make use of a cake that may not be the most visually appealing creation you've ever made or the scraps from a layer cake that you needed to level.

You can use the leftover crumbs to add texture to other baked goods. Either carefully crumble the cake pieces with your hands or plop them into your trusty food processor to start. Then, dry the crumbs on a lined sheet pan until firm. You don't want to toast them too much (or worse, burn them) -- only make them so that they don't get soggy when you sprinkle them onto your desserts. These crumbs can provide a colorful garnish to cupcakes, cake pops, or truffles, or you can reserve them for sprinkling on top of your ice cream.

Blend It Into Your Milkshakes

Milkshake in front of pink background
Milkshake in front of pink background - carlatomules/Shutterstock

Dessert and beverages combine forces to create the milkshake. And the only thing better than an ice-cold vanilla shake, complete with condensation on the outside of the diner-style metal cup, is one infused with your favorite cake flavors. Unlike other uses for your leftover cake, this is one you can use both the frosting and the sponge of the cake for. In fact, it's actually encouraged because you'll be able to taste the bits of red velvet or vanilla sponge interspersed with sweet frosting.

The best way to make this shake at home is to start by adding the milk to the blender, as well as any other liquids. This will break up the solid chunks of cake and ice cream better than if you added these ingredients inversely. Then, pulse until your mixture is well combined; you don't want any massive chunks of cake to clog up your straw.

Transform It Into A Strawberry Shortcake

Angel food cake with strawberries
Angel food cake with strawberries - P Maxwell Photography/Shutterstock

A layer of macerated fruit is an easy way to hide any texture or baking imperfections on your cake. The fruit, which has been soaked in sugar, will release its juices into the sponge and keep everything perfectly moist. Plus, it's a great way to give leftover birthday cake new life and reduce the amount you'll inevitably have to throw away after the festivities are over.

This hack can work with almost any kind of cake you have in your home, but some of the most popular options include vanilla cake, white cake, or pound cake. The chocolate cake options are equally as delicious (at least to us), but the chocolate can occasionally conflict with the strawberries. It's best to go with a flavor that will be a blank canvas for fruity notes. In addition, you'll want to spoon off the frosting, at least for now, so that the sponge can soak up all that fruity goodness.

Bake Cake Crumb Cookies

Soft sugar cookies against white background
Soft sugar cookies against white background - Hayran1/Shutterstock

Cake crumb cookies are going to be the new face in your baking rotation. Although you likely won't be able to find these cake-cookie hybrids at your local bakery or grocery store, you can whip them up at home with three cups of cubed cake pieces sans frosting. Pulse your cake pieces into a fine powder in your food processor before adding them to your standard sugar cookie dough. To ensure your cake pieces are well-distributed and don't affect the structure of your cookie, always add them right before scooping the cookies onto the sheet -- which is a similar timeline that you'd use for adding chocolate chips or nuts to your dough.

You can experiment here and add different types of cake depending on the recipe. For example, a cocoa-powder-infused cookie could benefit from rich devil's food cake crumbs, while a nostalgic funfetti cake will be the star of your next batch of frosted sugar cookies. You can also reserve your frosting to add to the top of your freshly baked, recycled cookies after they've cooled off.

Pop It In Your Deep Fryer

Deep-fried pancake balls
Deep-fried pancake balls - Marie C Fields/Shutterstock

We admit that it does seem very state-fair of us to recommend you fry cake pieces. But if you're a big fan of all things crunchy and textured, it's a step that we will forever recommend taking.

You'll want to start by scraping off as much of the frosting as possible and reserving it for your dipping accompaniment. Then, cube your leftover sponge and pop it in the freezer overnight. This will ensure that the cake keeps its shape when you plunge it into the hot oil. You'll also need to make pancake mix since this will act as the protective dredge that will keep your cake from drying out. Once you have your oil heated up and your dredging station ready to go, roll the cake in the pancake batter and fry it until golden brown. The resulting pieces will have the same flavors as your favorite cake, but just with the battered coating and ethereal crunch.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table, The Daily Meal, and Mashed.

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