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34 Mother's Day cakes that'll sweeten up your celebration

Make mom's special day extra sweet with a festive homemade cake.
/ Source: TODAY

After making mom a beautiful brunch and delicious dinner, why not end the day on a sweet note? But this isn't just any other day, so cookies and brownies are not going to cut it. A dessert fit for a mom has to be meaningful, memorable and, of course, mouthwatering.

Nothing says "celebration" quite like a cake. A sweet centerpiece to slice into and share adds a fun and festive flair to any occasion. On Sunday, May 8, make mom feel extra special and appreciated with a show-stopping cake made just for her.

Of course, it's so easy to just stop by the bakery. But a homemade dessert, made with lots of love, will speak volumes and show mom just how much you care. The good thing is a do-it-yourself dessert doesn't have to mean difficult or time-consuming. Cakes are also one of the best prep-ahead sweets: They can be baked beforehand and frosted day-of, frozen for weeks ahead or even made at the last minute.

These spectacular sheet cakes, scratch-made specialties, luscious layer cakes and to short-cut confections will not only satisfy mom's sweet tooth but can also accommodate any dietary and flavor preference. From gluten-free options to low-calorie treats and deep chocolate desserts to fruit-filled favorites, these cakes are guaranteed to sweeten any mom's day.

This vanilla-based cake is packed with Greek yogurt to create a moist texture, granola to add texture, and a hint of cinnamon for warm flavor. The cake is most delicious enjoyed warm out of the oven, topped with your favorite fruits and additional yogurt and granola to create a balanced, light cake perfect for breakfast or dessert.

This carrot cake is as classic as it gets. Warm baking spices, earthy carrots and sweet sugar combine to make a perfect cake. A double dose of fat from butter and grapeseed oil keeps it incredibly moist and gives the crumb a velvety texture.

Triple Threat Chocolate Cheesecake

This luscious chocolate cheesecake from Donatella Arpaia will melt mom's heart. It gets a triple hit of chocolate from the chocolate graham crust, creamy chocolate filling and rich chocolate ganache topping — plus a bonus of chocolate curls to finish! Don't wait until the very last minute to make this treat; it ideally needs to be chilled in the fridge overnight before the topping is added.

Lemon Velvet Cake

Lemon Velvet Cake

April Anderson

This sunny cake takes red velvet from fall to spring with a lemony makeover. It's great for celebrating the warming weather and end of winter. Instead of a stately layer cake this recipe can be turned into 24 cute, individual cupcakes, too.

Strawberry and Vanilla Ice Cream Cookie Cake

Pre-made cookies and store-bought ice cream make a lovely and easy dessert. Assemble it ahead of time and let it chill in the freezer until ready to serve. To add the ice cream without disrupting the cookies below, place small scoops of softened ice cream over the cookies and then use an offset to spread the ice cream evenly.

Mama's Lemon-Lime Soda Cake

Mama's Lemon-Lime Soda Cake

Jocelyn Delk Adams

This is a vintage recipe that has been in Jocelyn Delk-Adam's family for decades. "It was actually the very first cake I ever learned to bake," she says. "I suspect, not only because it is my mother's absolute favorite cake, but also because it was an unintimidating induction into the baking world, with results that even a nine-year-old girl could master."

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

Trisha Yearwood is a big fan of salty and sweet mixed together. "My grandmother Lizzie Paulk often used biscuits in place of pastry in her recipes," she says. "Nowadays, most people use angel food cake or pound cake for this dessert, but I like the old-fashioned mix of the not-so-sweet biscuit with the sweetness of the strawberries and the whipped cream. I serve this dessert in the summer with fresh-picked berries from our local strawberry farm."

This cake from Martha Stewart is truly, madly and deeply chocolaty. Pools of rich salted caramel separate layers of chocolate cake, and are then swathed with dark chocolate frosting and sprinkled with flaky salt. Prep the wondrous cake layers and caramel up to three days before assembling (chilling actually improves the texture for stacking), which makes it look effortless.

Sorbet Cake

Sorbet Cake

Alex Guarnaschelli

Alex Guarnaschelli went to the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy in New York City every year growing up. "It's a celebration of Italian American culture to the nth degree. My favorite items were always the cannoli and the spumoni," she says. "Spumoni is an layered dessert that consists of a few flavors of ice cream (often pistachio, strawberry and vanilla to represent the colors of the Italian flag). It's festive, colorful and above all, tasty and refreshing. This is a good, no-bake dessert with some dramatic flair for spring and summer. I make it with sorbet so it's even lighter and more refreshing."

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

Craig Strong

Coffee is Craig Stone's secret ingredient for making chocolate cake super moist and flavorful. It makes the chocolate taste even more deep and rich. It's also surprisingly easy to prepare and is sure to make a big impression.

Pancake Layer Cake

Pancake Layer Cake

Christina Tosi

Christina Tosi turns a classic morning meal into a decadent dessert. This breakfast-inspired cake looks and tastes like a tall stack of pancakes. Fluffy buttermilk cake layers and sweet maple frosting pack all the flavors of the morning favorite into an impressive dessert.

Red Velvet Layer Cake

Red Velvet Layer Cake

Christina Tosi

The bold color contrast of rich, deep-red velvet cake layers and frosting make this cake as appealing to look at as it is to eat. Red velvet frosting and chocolate cheesecake frosting make this one of the most indulgent cakes ever. Up the ante even more with chocolate cookie crumbs on top.

Whether mom likes her carrot cake plain or with all the mix-ins, this recipe has her covered. Serve this sweetly spiced dessert with walnuts, raisins, coconut and pineapple — or keep it simple with only shredded carrots in the batter. Either way, it's a guaranteed treat, especially when each slice gets a luxurious layer of cream cheese frosting.

It can't be denied that tangy lemons add a certain je ne sais quoi to baked goods. But it shouldn't be the only detectable flavor. This loaf cake that has the gorgeous tang from the lemon without it being too overpowering. It's more cake with a touch of lemon, not lemon with a side of cake. This lemon loaf is a great breakfast, brunch or snack.

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Jocelyn Delk Adams

This authentic gooey butter cake has a chewy blondie texture bottom topped with a custardy cream cheese layer of perfection. What makes it so special is its very unique taste with different textures coming together as one. It is the true, original St. Louis classic.

Anthony Contrino prefers the simplicity of a Bundt cake over a layer cake any day. "The lemon and olive oil create such a moist but not overly sweet dessert that's completed by the fragrant limoncello glaze," he says. "You might as well be enjoying a forkful of sunshine."

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This truly is one of the easiest cakes in the world to make! The simplest and most classic of ingredients create this decadent dessert. If your mom's a chocolate lover, this one's for her.

No-Bake Cheesecake

No-Bake Cheesecake

Alex Guarnaschelli

Who doesn't want a rich and creamy dessert in the warmer months? Don't worry, because this one is incredibly easy. Chilling cream cheese with the cookies and almonds allows it to firm up in this recipe, without the need for an oven. The combination of toasted almonds in the crust, the richness of the cream cheese filling and the raspberries always hits the spot.

Devil's Food Cake

Devil's Food Cake

Toni Tipton-Martin

This quick and easy recipe is a departure from standard mixtures that start by creaming together butter and sugar — what the old cooks meant when they said, "Bake a cake in the usual way." Coffee gives the batter a subtle richness. The cake is delicious topped with billows of fluffy white marshmallow frosting or a light buttercream or a chocolate cream cheese frosting. Baked in layers, it will make a lovely statement on your next special-occasion dessert table.

This gluten-free carrot cake is just lightly sweetened and has the perfect amount of spice. To make the recipe vegan, use a blend of chia seeds and flaxseeds instead of eggs to make the batter. For the best appearance and texture, wait to make the frosting until a few hours before serving and frost the cake no more than an hour before serving.

Rainbow Funfetti Pancake Cake

Celebrate Mother's Day with this colorful pancake cake from Brandi Milloy! Even if mom only eats a bite, she'll be excited to brag about it on her Instagram feed to show how amazing and creative her kids are.

The golden caramelized top of this pineapple upside-down cake from Martha Stewart gives it its distinctive look and taste. Sunny pineapple slices add sweetness and tropical flavor to the tender cake. It will likely become a family favorite and make an appearance at more than one occasion!

Mango Upside-Down Cake

Mango Upside-Down Cake

Marcela Valladolid

Marcella Valladolid's mom was famous for her upside-down pineapple cake. "I took her recipe to the tropics and made it with mango and coconut," she says. "Soft, tender and delicate, it's perfect with a nice cup of tea or a cappuccino."

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake

The combination of smooth peanut butter and rich chocolate make this dessert incredibly decadent and irresistible to any peanut butter cup fan. The double-layer cake absolutely oozes rich, fudgy frosting and is filled with chocolate chips. One of the best parts of this delectable creation is that it only takes about five minutes to whip up, has five ingredients, plus frosting, and comes out of the oven fluffy yet moist.

This recipe from Milk Bar has one of the most underestimated flavors in the pastry world. Ground, freeze-dried corn, aka corn powder, lends an insanely fresh and natural depth, and allows you to make this cake all year round. Not a blueberry fan? Get creative with a different jammy layer. At Milk Bar, we love the combination of strawberry and corn.

It is no secret to Ree Drummond that you can doctor up boxed cake mix to create a heavenly dessert. "This trend took hold in the nineties and it gave masses of people permission to forgo the measuring and mess of a from-scratch cake," she says. "But just in case your generation hid this eternal cake mix truth from you your whole life, I'm here to lift the veil. This is an incredibly simple way to ease into the cake-mix era in your life: a rich, very chocolaty cake that's such a cinch to make, it might become your go-to birthday cake request."

Lemon and Blackcurrant Stripe Cake

This cake is just so impressive and fun when you slice into it. The combination of tart lemon and sweet, dark berries coupled with the rich buttercream frosting make this a refreshing yet decadent dessert. Black currents may not always be easy to get hold of. Blackberries (or frozen mixed berries) will work just was well to get the bright color.

This deceptively simple recipe uses everyday ingredients to make an otherworldly, magical dessert. As it bakes, the cake batter magically transforms into three layers: a rich, luxurious custard crust, a creamy center and a light, delicate angel food cake topper. And though they say magicians shouldn't give away their secrets, there's no real surprise behind the magic here: by whipping egg whites and folding them into the batter, you create an airy but sturdy structure. As the cake bakes, the egg whites expand and the egg yolks settle into a creamy custard. The cake will still turn out even if all the whites aren't completely incorporated, so don't worry if there are cloud-like pockets of egg white in the batter.

Tiramisu Cake

Tiramisu Cake

Alejandra Ramos

Turn a simple box mix into an elegant tiramisu-inspired cake with hints of espresso, chocolate and rum. This cake is frosted naked-style for a trendy rustic dessert that requires no special decorating skills. A finish of chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa powder gives it an effortlessly elegant look.

Flourless Pound Cake

Joy Bauer gives this classic dessert a flourless makeover. "Instead of the standard recipe, which typically contains oodles of butter, white flour and sugar, I created a flourless rendition that bumps up the overall nutrition and provides 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per slice," she says. The end a result is a rich and moist pound cake.

Giant Funfetti Sugar Cookie Cake

Bigger is better — especially when it comes to cake. This huge cookie-cake hybrid is packed with rainbow sprinkles and makes a big, colorful splash at any celebration. It has all the fun of a celebration cake with the buttery crisp of cookies in one special treat.

Martha Stewart's Lemon Mousse Cake

Lemon and meringue make one of the all-time great culinary duos. Here, they're whipped up into a light-as-air cake. A Swiss meringue frosting is piped on and then toasted for a golden hue, to highlight its sensuous curves. A big pile of raspberries on top looks as if it's keeping the whole creation from floating away.

Chocolate Chip Tahini Cake

This cake has an unbelievably fluffy texture that's created by a combination of almond and coconut flours. The sweetness from the coconut sugar is complemented by the tahini, which totally transforms the flavor profile of this dessert. The vegan frosting takes it to another level, making it the perfect dessert for a special occasion, or even as sweet afternoon pick-me-up!

Valerie Bertinelli's Sicilian Love Cake

Store-bought chocolate cake mix and chocolate pudding mix are the secrets behind this easy cake from Valerie Bertinelli. It has a rich mascarpone-ricotta filling and luscious cocoa-mascarpone frosting. It's impossible not to fall in love with this delicious treat!