As the oft-quoted saying goes, "Happiness is knowing that there is cake in the oven.” A delicious homemade dessert comes in handy for special occasions, of course, but a sweet slice can also be a pick-me-up even when there's no occasion at all. Whether you’re a pro at baking cakes or you're looking to expand your skills in the kitchen, you can make some incredible desserts to serve a crowd or a party of one with little time and effort. Here are 15 recipes that will keep your cake game strong, no matter what you have in store.
Cake for the Kids
A chocolate lava cake is a tried-and-true option for any occasion, even on a weeknight. The kids at the table will want to skip eating dinner and go straight to dessert when they see the version you made. This cake has a gooey cocoa center, so you won’t mind leaving your veggies untouched.
Charity Curley Mathews
Cake for the Ultimate Chocolate Lover
You can probably think about one person in your life who will eat anything and everything chocolate. For her birthday, whip up a German chocolate cake with pecans, coconut and espresso sauce. After you serve it once, your chocolate lover will want it all the time.
Cake for a Family Birthday Party
When you bring this chocolate bundt cake with a cookie butter glaze to the next family birthday bash, everyone will remember it as a birthday party for the ages. You can find a jar of cookie butter at most supermarkets, too.
Cake for a Breakfast-for-Dinner Treat
If your family loves breakfast for dinner, follow up later that night with a dark chocolate and caramel crepe cake. Don’t worry, you don’t need a special crepe pan or French cooking skills to make it.
Cake for a Party of One
If you have a craving for cake on a late Saturday night but no energy, make a funfetti mug version. It only takes five minutes to put the ingredients together and bake the cake, so you’ll satisfy the craving ASAP.
Cake for Cherry Season
When cherries come into season in early May, be sure to get a few baskets for your fresh fruit options and this black forest cake. Poaching the cherries is really easy, so don’t be discouraged by making a cake entirely by scratch — the taste will be worth the work.
Cake for a Quick Afternoon Pick-Me-Up
On a cold and rainy day at home or in the office, nothing sounds better than a dessert. If you have a mug and some basic baking ingredients, you can bake a delicious chocolate mini-cake in your microwave.
Cake for St. Patrick’s Day Fun
Don’t even think about picking up St. Patrick’s Day dessert at the grocery store — it’s time to bust out the Irish cream for a flavorful and dense poundcake. Pair this cake with a meal of corned beef and cabbage or Shepherd’s pie.
Cake for a Sunday Brunch
Brunching is serious business, and so is this made-from-scratch carrot cake. Once you try the flavor combination of spices and cream cheese, you’ll reconsider your love for other breakfast pastries and stick with this one.
Cake for Your Farmers Market Trips
You know the story well: you go to the farmers market and buy a few apples that go bad before you have a chance to decide what to do with them. That’ll never happen again now that you have this apple pie crumb coffee cake in your dessert arsenal. Waking up early to shop and cook breakfast never sounded so great.
Cake for an Office Potluck
The worst thing about bringing food to an office party is trying to come up with an easy dish that someone else hasn’t signed up for. Enter your tres leches cake, featuring tons of delicious coconut. Having this in your recipe box will help you conquer every potluck with pizzazz.
Cake for the #Cute Lovers
Make these no-bake cheesecakes for your friends who ooh and ahh over anything and everything cute. Don’t forget to take a few photos for Instagram and Snapchat before serving.
Cake for an After-School Treat
Skip the store-bought wrapped snacks the next time you or your kids need a study break. This almost-raw vegan cheesecake is so good, you won’t notice you didn’t add any extra sugar. The cool thing about this cake is that it keeps well in the freezer, so you don’t need to make it every afternoon.
Cake for an Engagement Soirée
For a special event like an engagement party, consider experimenting with fondant on a basic cake. Pro tip: Match the florals you paint on the fondant with the party’s floral arrangements, and incorporate some of those flowers as decorations.
Cake for the Holiday Season
Whip up a red velvet pound cake for a festive and decadent dessert at a holiday party. After one sweet bite, you’ll instantly count it as an annual tradition. Now that you have all of these awesome desserts in your recipe files, every day is a perfect occasion to have a slice of cake.
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Zoe Lance is a writer and editor interested in all things art and culture. She earned her bachelor's degree at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.