It’s our birthday! It was a whole 11 years ago that we launched Food52 (time flies when you’re having fun!). Which means: Today, we're celebrating.
But because celebrations look a little (who are we kidding—a lot) different this year, we’re saving the champagne and party hats for another day. Instead, we’re taking the time to give quiet thanks for the wonderful times and refuel with some snacks.
Still, if there’s one birthday privilege we’re not giving up, it's cake. Because what’s a birthday without it? In keeping with the sentiment of the year, we’re briefly setting aside the majestic and the multitiered. Instead, here are 11 low-key cakes—beginner-friendly, one-bowl, and stand mixer-free—that come together in a cinch. Don’t be fooled, though: They’re unbeatably delicious and guaranteed to make any day feel festive.
For everyone who has welcomed us into their homes and kitchens over the last 11 years, these cakes are for you—because we could all use a little celebration right now.
With 500 community reviews and counting, the most-popular Genius Recipes dessert of all time (yup!) is "genius" for good reason: it's incredibly easy to pull together (single bowl! hand mix!), allows for an incredible number of variations (bourbon! grapefruit! pistachio crunch!), and can be comfortably frozen for a rainy day. In fact, there may or may not be half a cake in our freezer as we type this.
As Food52 alum and recipe developer Sarah Jampel says: "Gâteau au yaourt is the definition of an 'anytime cake'—not only because you'll want to eat it anytime, but because you can make it anytime, too. Well, a birthday is as good a time as any (see what we did there?). Oh, did we mention you don't need measuring cups for this?
A no-way-will-it-fail pound cake that's made with hot melted butter in a food processor. Yes, you read that right. Baking expert Alice Medrich adapted this no-fuss beauty from a recipe in The Perfect Cake, published by America's Test Kitchen, and the best part about it is that it's designed to be dressed up for company (or yourself). So play on!
What's in a name? Everything. And this one says it all. Food Editor Emma Laperruque's Big Little Recipe comes together with only four ingredients and takes 20-something minutes from apple-washing to oven-ready. What was that? Did you say you're out of butter? You're in luck: none needed.
"It smells so good it'll be hard to wait until it cools off," wrote one happy reviewer. Luckily, it tastes just as good as it smells. Simple but not basic—that touch of cardamom to round out the sweetness is pretty darn special—this almond cake has the potential to become your back-pocket go-to.
A 1-2-3-4 cake that will never let you down? Sign. us. up. Plus, that raspberry buttercream frosting takes this firmly into birthday cake territory.
A very special family recipe for a really tasty chocolate cake, the batter for which comes together with just a bowl and wooden spoon. While it's wonderful as is, one community member urges you to "try it out with a range of topping and fillings; think: coffee, caramel, Nutella..."
Another one-bowler that needs no stand mixer, special techniques, or fuss. Which means you can whip this up every time a chocolate craving hits (in our case, all the time). Even better: You can frost while it's still in the pan, and dig right in.
This low-effort, high-reward cake from Grant Melton uses ingredients you likely have in your pantry right now, and swaps out measuring cups and spoons for a single yogurt tub (its contents go in this, too). There are literally no excuses not to make this.
This cake barely needs an introduction. The recipe comes from Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser's mom, and just like us, we're pretty sure you'll find a million reasons to bake it. Socially-distanced family dinner? Make this cake! Remembered your partner's birthday hours before the day? This is your cake. Feeling glum and need a pick-me-up? This is it! This cake also stores well in the fridge and is delicious served cold, which makes it a great summer cake as well!
This Genius Recipe, adapted from Margaret Fox's Cafe Beaujolais, is a chocolate cake with a difference: It's less chocolatey. And in this case, that's no bad thing. Because what it skips in extra chocolate, it makes up for in its more delicate, less sugary qualities. Also, it's vegan—but we'd have to tell you that for you to notice.