I’m excited about this cake because it came out exactly the way I visualized it. (No, it doesn’t always!) It’s also an easy cake to decorate, so even if you’re a complete novice with no prior experience, you should be able to pull this one off.

We’re about to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, which marks the giving of the Torah over 3,000 years ago. After G‑d chose Mount Sinai to be the place He would give the Torah, the small, brown, dry mountain burst into bloom, growing flowers and lush greenery.

So today I present you . . . Mount Sinai cake!

I’m giving you recipes for the cake and frosting (below), but if baking’s not your thing, don’t let that put you off. I’m not really a fan of cake mixes and bought frosting, but because this is more of a “concept cake,” I think we can make an exception this time. Or if you have a favorite cake recipe, feel free to use that instead. Really, any cake and any frosting will work for this one.

To get the mountain shape, you’ll need either the Wilton Wonder Cake Mold, or you can use a stainless steel mixing bowl. If you’re using a mixing bowl, I recommend a smallish one, and try to use a shallow wider bowl rather than a narrow deeper bowl. It will bake more evenly that way. Make the cake batter and pour it into the pan. Make sure the pan is well greased so the cake will come out easily. I like to use the baking sprays that have flour in them; then the cake slips right out. Bake the cake until a toothpick comes out dry. Let it cool before turning it out of the pan.

Note: I heard from some of you last year that you had trouble baking this cake without the Wonder Mold pan. Baking it in a bowl successfully seems to depend on the size and shape of the bowl, so here is a way to make the mountain shape using a regular round cake pan:

  1. Bake three round cakes. (I used 6″ pans, which gave me a taller, steeper mountain. For a rounder, hillier look, like the original cake, use a wider pan.)
  2. Let the cakes cool, and cut off the tops of 2 of the cakes.
  3. Spread icing on the top of the first cake, then place the second cake on top.
  4. Spread icing on top of the second cake, and place the third cake (the one whose top you didn’t cut off) on top.
  5. Place the stacked cakes in the freezer for an hour or so.
  6. Remove from the freezer and use a long, sharp knife to angle the sides into a mountain shape. (note: picture is an "in-progress" picture, you want the sides to be smoother than that before covering with the frosting.)
  7. Then continue with the decorating directions.

To decorate, you’ll need the cake, frosting and candies. I used chocolate lentils (a.k.a. smarties, M&Ms, candy-coated chocolate), and I specifically chose a type that comes in two sizes.

Stick the cake in the freezer for a couple of hours—this will make it easier to decorate. Sift the icing ingredients together, add the water and mix with a spoon in one direction until icing is smooth.

Take the cake out of the freezer and put it on a piece of wax paper (this will make the clean-up easier). Pour the icing over the top and let it drip down the sides.

You can help it along with a knife or a spatula. Don’t worry if it’s not too perfect, because you’ll be covering it anyway. Let the excess icing drip onto the wax paper.

Stick the cake back in the freezer for about half an hour (or in the fridge for a couple of hours), and then change the wax paper so you’re working on a clean surface.

Now it’s time to start decorating.

First form a couple of flowers. I used the smaller candies for flowers. One candy for the center, six for the petals. Don’t worry if you have a hard time placing them evenly—it’s about the overall effect, not absolute perfection.

After you’ve made a couple of flowers, start filling in the spaces with the larger green candies. Continue making flowers and filling the space with green candies until the cake is fully covered. You can use some of the smaller green candies to fill in gaps, like I did.

Very important: Keep your fingers clean. If you get some frosting on your fingers, wipe it off before continuing. You don’t want chocolate frosting all over your candies—it will look like a muddy mess.

Try to be as light-fingered as possible. You don’t want to push against the frosting too firmly. And if it starts to feel melty, you can stick it back in the freezer for half an hour and then keep going. It all depends on how quickly you work.

And that’s all there is to it! You just created a beautiful Mount Sinai cake with no special equipment or cake-decorating skills. You could also give this job to your kids—keep them busy for a while and get them excited about the holiday. Win-win.

If you’d like to add an extra touch, you can print out a picture of the two tablets, tape them to a toothpick and stick it in the top of the cake.

These are the recipes I used, but again, you can use any cake and any frosting. Doesn’t even need to be chocolate. Whatever you prefer.

Cake Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup oil
  • 1⅛ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • 1 tsp. coffee dissolved in ¾ cups hot water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt

Cake Directions:

  1. Cream oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until there are no lumps.
  3. Pour into greased Wilton Wonder Cake Mold pan and bake at 325° F until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 45–50 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 6–7 tbsp. hot water

Frosting Directions:

  1. Sift cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar into a bowl. Add salt. Whisk with a fork to combine.
  2. Add the hot water 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing with a spoon in one direction until frosting is smooth.

What’s on your Shavuot menu?