10 Genius Cakes for Mother's Day

April 30, 2014

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: 10 cakes, each with the Genius seal of approval, just in time to save Mother's Day.

Still need a present for Mother's Day? Go bake her a cake. And for you moms out there -- do you suspect your loved ones are running a little behind this year? Save them: request a cake.

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Some of my happiest, most successful mom-oriented days involved baking my mother's favorite chocolate cake with a cream cheese ribbon -- sometimes with her help, sometimes stumbling along on my own. I think she liked it easily as much as the awkward poems and framed photos, though I doubt she'd ever tell.

I've rounded up some of the greatest cakes from the Genius Recipes column below, plus a few other favorites from around Food52. But what I really want to know is: what genius cake will you bake for your mother?

Amanda Hesser's Chocolate Dump-It Cake

Dump it cake from Food52


Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

Olive oil cake from Food52


aargersi's Coconut Tres Leches

Tres leches from Food52


Margaret Fox's Amazon Cake

Amazon cake from Food52


Lindsay-Jean Hard's Banana Cake with Penuche Frosting 

Banana cake from Food52


Roberta's Parsley Cake

Parsley Cake from Food52


Nigella Lawson's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

Loaf cake from Food52 


Cory Schreiber & Julie Richardson's Rhubarb Buckle with Ginger Crumb

Rhubarb buckle from Food52


Nigel Slater's Extremely Moist Chocolate Beet Cake

Beet cake from Food52


SML Office's Louisa's Cake

Louisa's cake from Food52

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom, except Louisa's Cake by Sarah Shatz

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The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.

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Thalia May 8, 2016
Nigella's cake is always a winner!
Heather M. April 30, 2014
I think I might try caramel cake with chocolate filling this year. I also have to decide if I want to do fondant or piped butter cream to decorated. Last year I did chocolate cake with butter cream frosting. I piped red, dark peach and yellow ribbon roses and drop flowers to match the bouquet of roses I got. My mom loved it.
AntoniaJames April 30, 2014
Alas, my mother is no longer with us, this being our first Mother's Day without her. In her memory, I will make one of her favorite desserts, Strawberry Shortcake. I'll be using the Genius James Beard version (of course), which I know she'd appreciate. I'll be using the Genius Nancy Silverton whipped cream, as well. Of course.<br /><br />There's no "missing" like missing one's mother; this Mother's Day is testing my resolve to carry on as she would, "with hope and enthusiasm for the future." ;o)
Gary D. April 30, 2014
Antonia, do not kid yourself for even a moment, she is there with you. She is why you are who you are, at least in part. And the fact that you closely follow tradition speaks to the woman, and the daughter she raised. My mom has been away for years, but she is still here every day. I see her in myself and my daughter, when we cook together and especially when we play music and sign while doing it, like she always enjoyed. Peace on this excellent weekend, and notice the signs of her presence.
monica.clancy.54 May 3, 2014
Your Mother loved, taught and mentored you well. Her legacy will always be with you so in a sense she will always be there.
jane.coombs88 April 30, 2014
where is the spice cake? My fave...
Marian B. May 1, 2014
This is pretty spice cake-y! And from my grandmother.
jane.coombs88 May 1, 2014
I have made this cake so many times I don't ever want to make it again. I even have the original cook book that the recipe first appeared in. I am looking for a knock out spice cake recipe. Thx
Marian B. May 1, 2014
What book is it in??
jane.coombs88 May 1, 2014
It is the Campbell Soup Cookbook Cooking with Soup. It is the all red one. This cookbook and The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken were the ones I used in the '60s.<br />
innoabrd May 2, 2014
This is my most favorite spice cake. Very old Yankee recipe, the friend who gave it to me is in her 70's and it was her great-grandmother's recipe. Simple, and interestingly old-fashioned with water in the recipe. Hope you enjoy.
jane.coombs88 May 7, 2014
I made ATK spice cake. It has the complexity that I have been lusting for. Thx for the input.
booglix April 30, 2014
Nigel Slater's beet cake is great! Two favorites of mine are the almond torte in Chez Panisse Desserts (which is good alone or soaked with an amaretto and bourbon syrup) and Ina's lemon cake. Both very easy, simple, reliable and seriously delicious.
Alice M. April 30, 2014
I have a coconut and cornflour chiffon cake (no wheat flour at all) in the oven and my fingers are crossed...
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 30, 2014
Pins and needles!
Catherine L. April 30, 2014
Does this mean my mom hasn't actually appreciated all the macaroni crafts I've made her???
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 30, 2014
She loves them all, and she loves them equally.
Marian B. April 30, 2014
I'm going retro with Tomato Soup Cake.
Author Comment
Kristen M. April 30, 2014
Also genius.