Cake Is a Great Idea. Here Are 41 Recipes.

May 20, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Cakes are often reserved for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, but where’s the joy in that? If you ask us, Wednesday is as good a reason as any other. So turn on the oven, pick a recipe, any recipe, and treat yourself. (And save us a slice while you’re at it.) Here are 41 of our favorite cake recipes in the world.


1. Calabrian Walnut Cake

Walnuts, eggs, and sugar make up the bulk of this dense, flourless cake, native to Italy.

2. Flourless Pecan Cake

Inspired by the walnut cake above, this pecan–brown sugar number needs nothing more than a hot cup of coffee alongside.

3. Food-Processor Pistachio Cake

A food processor does all the heavy lifting in this recipe. In lieu of pistachio paste, almond paste works great, too.

4. Peanut Butter Sheet Cake With Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

“I made this not long ago as a sheet cake and it slayed,” one community member writes. Slayed!

5. Tahini Cake With Blueberry Swirl

A plush tahini cake with a jammy blueberry swirl and crackling sesame seed crust.


6. Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

If you’ve been using your loaf pan for banana bread or, you know, bread bread, Nigella Lawson has an even better idea.

7. Chocolate Dump-It Cake

This family-famous chocolate cake (with a sour cream–chocolate frosting!) comes by way of our co-founder Amanda Hesser.

8. The Chocolate Cake That Changed Everything

Grain-free and dairy-free and still highly craveable? Oh yes.

9. Chocolate Mochi Snack Cake

Glutinous rice flour is what gives this chocolate cake its distinctive squidgy, springy texture.

10. Chocolate Tres Leches

A tender chocolate cake gets drenched in a mixture of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream—then topped with condensed milk whipped cream for good measure.

11. Extra-Fudgy Flourless Chocolate Cake

Whipped cream is a default topping for a flourless chocolate cake. So why not fold some into the batter, too?

12. Paula Shoyer’s Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Quinoa often gets pulled out of the cabinet for dinner. But in this cake, it’s the star ingredient.

13. Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake

The secret to this cake’s exceptional fudginess? Okay, we’ll tell you: avocado.

Vanilla, Spiced, Etc

14. Funfetti Cake

Like the box, from better—this recipe was dreamed up by blogger and Food Network star Molly Yeh.

15. Maida Heatter’s Budapest Coffee Cake

Two cups of sour cream ensure this coffee cake is anything but dry.

16. Salted Egg Yolk Pound Cake

“Cured egg yolks provide a rich saltiness that heightens the sweetness—and deepens the savoriness—of pound cake,” writes Associate Editor Coral Lee.

17. Tangy Tres Leches

Instead of milk, this tres leches calls in buttermilk for a zingy brightness, wonderful for summer.

18. Effortless Angel Food Cake

Traditional meringue is finicky. Stella Parks’ is not.

19. Grown-Up Birthday Cake

Olive oil and white wine in a yellow layer cake? Why not, right?

20. Louisa’s Cake

Ricotta, grated apple, and zingy lemon zest add up to one of our community’s most popular cakes of all time.

21. Maialino’s Olive Oil Cake

“Olive oil cake at its best has a crackling crust and an aromatic oil-rich middle, which, if it held any more moisture, would be pudding,” writes our resident Genius Kristen Miglore.

22. Faith Durand’s Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake

Blackstrap molasses, brown sugar, and a smidge of cocoa powder give this cake loads of depth.

23. Saffron & Chocolate Tea Cake

Saffron gives an otherwise vanilla tea cake a glowy golden color.


24. Maida Heatter’s Lemon Buttermilk Cake

This powerfully puckery cake doesn’t hold back on the lemon, just how we like it.

25. Marian Burros’ Plum Torte

“For the handful of you who may not already be familiar with Marian Burros's iconic cake, it is arguably the most famous recipe ever to grace the pages of The New York Times,” writes our co-founder Merrill Stubbs.

26. Teddie’s Apple Cake

This sturdy apple cake, chock-full of walnuts and raisins, has never let us down.

27. Erin McDowell’s Strawberry Not-So-Shortcake

Shortcakes are often just that: short. This Genius one—with three layers of cake, berries, and cream each—from Erin McDowell is not.

28. Banana Cake With Penuche Frosting

“This is our family celebration cake, on seven occasions now,” reports one community member. “It's been a layer cake, a tube pan cake and cupcakes.”

29. Sunset’s Whole Orange Cake

How to get the brightest flavor from fresh oranges? Just throw the entire fruit in the food processor.

30. ‘World’s Best Cake’ With Banana & Coconut

The name speaks for itself, does it not?

31. Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake

A contest-winning, sorta tangy, and incredibly moist upside-down cake.

32. Tomato Soup Cake

“This was my grandmother Ruthie's recipe, a technique that Irish immigrants apparently relied on when short on money and fresh ingredients,” writes Marian Bull.

33. Charlotte Druckman’s Olive (Oil) Cake

Both olives and olive oil yield a cake that’s just as savory as sweet (i.e., perfect for an afternoon snack).


34. Roberta’s Parsley Cake

Parsley? Cake? Wait, what?

35. Our Best Carrot Cake

Okay, okay, carrot cake we’ve heard of. And this one’s the best.

36. Parsnip Cake With Blood Orange Buttercream

Think of parsnips like carrots: a grateable root vegetable with a sweet disposition.

37. Spiced Parsnip Cake

Yep, another parsnip cake—this recipe is all about the warm spices, like cinnamon and ginger.

38. Pumpkin Cake With Cream Cheese Icing & Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds

Caramelize pumpkin seeds and you get a better-than-sprinkles topping for cakes of all kinds.

Mug Cakes!

39. Chocolate Olive Oil Mug Cake

Not feeling olive oil? Swap in a more neutral pick, like canola or grapeseed.

40. White Chocolate Raspberry Mug Cake

As soon as raspberries are in season, make this fluffy cake in a matter of minutes.

41. Peanut Butter Jelly Mug Cake

Like a sandwich but way, way better.

Which cake would you make first? Chat in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Chiaroscuro777
  • Lori Kirman
    Lori Kirman
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Chiaroscuro777 May 31, 2020
Maida’s Budapest Coffee Cake!
Lori K. May 22, 2020
Can’t use eggs. Any suggestions for the walnut cake. Thanks.