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Graduation Photo Album Cake

Total Time

Prep: 40 min. Bake: 45 min. + cooling


12-15 servings

Updated: Oct. 16, 2022
Our cooks took a page out of Dorothy's recipe collection to whip up this delicious picture book. They based the keepsake on her poppy seed cake, then opened that dessert up into an easy-to-make photo album idea. Follow these instructions, and you'll have your own commencement confection that's memorable cover to cover!
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  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons shortening
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • Paste food coloring in school colors
  • 15x11-inch board
  • Yellow gift wrap for covering board
  • Clear cellophane for covering board
  • 4x5-inch photo of graduate (laminated if desired)
  • Pastry tips—round #3, star #18, drop flower #107, and leaf #67


  1. Directions: Cover board with gift wrap, taping wrap on the back side of board. Cover wrapped board with cellophane in the same way.
  2. Prepare cake and frosting according to following recipe:
  3. In a bowl, cream butter and 1-1/2 cups sugar. Add egg yolks and beat well. Combine flour, poppy seeds, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  5. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Beat in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter.
  6. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9-in. baking pan. Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack to cool cake completely. Transfer to covered board.
  7. Trace book pattern twice onto waxed paper. Cut out. On one long side of cake, position patterns so that the long straight edges sit on the board and the wide ends meat at the center of cake. Secure with toothpicks. With a serrated knife an following patterns, cut off top of cake. Remove cake top and save for another use. Repeat on other long side.
  8. For frosting, cream butter, shortening and vanilla in a bowl. Beat in confectioners' sugar and milk.
  9. Place 1 cup frosting in a bowl for border around cake. Tint with food coloring for main school color. Place 1/3 cup frosting in another bowl and tint with second color. Place 1 tablespoon frosting in a bowl and leave white. Set bowls aside. Frost the cake top and sides with the remaining frosting.
  10. If photo is not laminated, wrap it in plastic. Place photo in center of one page of cake.
  11. Cut a small hole in a corner of pastry or plastic bag. Insert round tip #3. Fill with main school-color frosting. Referring to photo above, pipe "CLASS OF ____" on page without photo.
  12. Insert drop flower tip #107. Pipe a rope border around bottom edges of cake. Pipe flowers at corners of photo. Randomly pipe five flowers above and three flowers below writing.
  13. Fill another bag with reserved white frosting. Cut a small hole in corner; pipe a dot in center of flowers.
  14. Prepare a third bag; insert star tip #18 and fill with second school-color frosting. Pipe designs above and below photo. Pipe vines on each side of the flower groups.
  15. Insert leaf tip #67. Pipe leaves randomly near flowers. Remove photo before cutting cake.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 679 calories, 34g fat (18g saturated fat), 142mg cholesterol, 502mg sodium, 90g carbohydrate (69g sugars, 1g fiber), 6g protein.

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