After outlining the best recipes for Mother's Day brunch and 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 and memorable.
Nothing says "celebration" quite like a cake. A sumptuous, homemade centerpiece to slice into and share adds a fun and festive flair to this day that's all about one lucky lady. On Sunday, May 14, make the mother figure in your life feel extra special and appreciated with a show-stopping cake made just for her. Since Mother’s Day falls during the peak of spring, you’ll find an abundance of warm-weather treats like carrot cake, lemon velvet, and a strawberry-ice cream cake, plus classics like red velvet and strawberry shortcake.
While it's easy to stop by the bakery, a homemade dessert made with love will speak volumes and show mom just how much you care. But these cake recipes don't need to be difficult or time-consuming — plus, they're a naturally make-ahead sweet. They can be baked beforehand and frosted day-of, frozen for weeks ahead or decorated at the last minute.
These spectacular sheet cakes, scratch-made specialties, luscious layer cakes and short-cut confections will not only satisfy mom's sweet tooth but can also accommodate mom's favorite flavors. From gluten-free options to low-calorie treats and deep chocolate desserts to fruit-filled favorites, these cakes are guaranteed to sweeten mom's day. There's plenty to go around.
This oh, so pretty vanilla cake is made with Greek yogurt, which creates a moist texture, granola for crunch and a hint of cinnamon for warmth. The cake is most delicious enjoyed warm out of the oven, topped with your favorite fruits and even more yogurt and granola to create a balanced, light cake that's perfect for breakfast or dessert.
This carrot cake from Christina Tosi is as classic as it gets. Warm spices, earthy carrots and sugar combine to make a perfect cake with a cult following. A combination of fat from butter and grapeseed oil keeps it incredibly moist and gives the crumb a velvety texture.
"This recipe is something I remember my mom making when I was a kid. It's made with some "unusual" ingredients and reminds me of a very '70s-style recipe. Yes, pistachio is in the name, but it's a totally light and sweet cake-like dessert that I find refreshing as well. Perfect for spring," says TODAY's Dylan Dreyer.
This cake is so good it will beckon you in the middle of the night. Despite its name, most of alcohol gets cooked out for a family-friendly dessert, but you can swap the wine for orange juice and omit the bourbon from the whipped cream if you want a completely booze-free version.
Make a banana bread-inspired cake even better by layering it with ice cream! Chill this cake overnight to ensure clean slices of the cake when cutting. You can also make it into ice cream sandwiches instead of an entire cake, if you prefer.
This recipe doesn't add any unexpected extras or fancy new flavors. It's a traditional, straightforward red velvet cake that shows off the unbeatable flavors and textures of this iconic classic. Mom will love it.
This surprisingly quick cake recipe was tailor-made to celebrate Valentine's Day, but a love-filled cake smothered with icing and little hearts is a great opportunity to show the mother figure in your life some love.
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 needs to be chilled in the fridge overnight before it's garnished and served.
This sunny cake takes red velvet from fall to spring with a little (okay, a lot) of lemon juice. It's great for celebrating the end of winter. Instead of a stately layer cake this recipe can be turned into 24 cute, individual cupcakes, too.
Amanda Rettke, the food blogger behind I am Baker and the cookbook author of Surprise-Inside Cakes, goes beyond classic desserts with her creative ideas for making amazing over-the-top cakes. Follow her step-by-step instructions for recreating this surprise-inside rainbow heart 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 you're 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.
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."
"I love making a layer cake for someone special because you get the chance to tell their own personal flavor story through their favorite cake, filling, crumb and frosting combo," says celebrity baker Christina Tosi about this cake, which she created for Ina Garten.
Trisha Yearwood is a big fan of salty and sweet flavor combinations. "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 rich. 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 nearly effortless.
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."
Coffee is Craig Stone's secret ingredient for making chocolate cake super moist and flavorful. It enhances the dark cocoa notes without giving the cake a mocha flavor. The recipe is also surprisingly easy to prepare and is sure to make a big impression.
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 early bird favorite into an impressive dessert.
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.
This loaf cake that has the gorgeous tang from the lemon without it being too overpowering. Oh, and it's gluten-free; instead of all-purpose or cake flour, it's made with a combination of oat and coconut flours, which give it a light bite.
This authentic gooey butter cake has a chewy blondie texture bottom topped with a custardy cream cheese layer. We're going to let you in on a little secret: it's made with boxed yellow cake mix, which makes for a much easier prep.
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."
This truly is one of the easiest cakes in the world to make! The simplest and most classic of ingredients create this decadent dessert — unsalted butter, bittersweet chocolate, eggs, sugar, coffee liqueur and salt. If your mom's a chocolate lover, this one's for her.
We love a no-bake recipe not only because of its ease, but also because it keeps the kitchen cool as the temperature starts to heat up outside. The combination of toasted almonds in the crust, the richness of the cream cheese filling and the raspberries always hits the spot.
This quick and easy recipe is a departure from standard mixtures that start by creaming together butter and sugar. The cake is delicious topped with billows of fluffy chocolate cream cheese frosting. Despite it's special occasion-worthy appearance, the cake is baked in layers for ease.
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 in the batter. For the best appearance and texture, wait to make the frosting until a few hours before serving and frost it no more than an hour before serving.
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!
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."
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 with 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 prep.
This recipe from Milk Bar has one of the most underestimated flavors in the pastry world. Ground, freeze-dried corn, aka corn powder, lends a 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.
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."
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.
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.
Turn a simple box mix into a tiramisu-inspired cake with hints of espresso, chocolate and rum. This cake is barely frosted for a rustic-style dessert that requires no special decorating skills. A finish of chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa powder gives it an effortlessly elegant look.
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.
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.
Lemon and meringue make one of the all-time great culinary duos. Here, they're whipped up into a light-as-air cake. Swiss meringue frosting is piped and then torched, giving it a golden hue. A big pile of raspberries on top looks as if it's keeping the whole creation from floating away.
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 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!
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!