Sometimes it's the thought that counts the most. These creative cakes show dad that you were willing to go above and beyond for his special day.
Dads are notoriously hard to buy for (we get stumped every birthday, around the holidays, and of course, on Father’s Day), which is why we prefer to give the gift of cake. No dad can resist a homemade sweet treat, especially when it’s baked with love by his spouse, kids, or grandkids. We rounded up a number of colorful, festive cakes that celebrate the things (most) dads love—whether it’s a round of golf, burgers on the grill, or munching on Cracker Jacks at the baseball stadium all summer long. And if your dad’s not a cake person, we’ve included a cookie cake, too, which is decorated to look like a savory pepperoni pizza. Don’t be intimidated by what may look like intricate detail work. We avoided any cakes that require special equipment or fondant (which makes for a perfect-looking cake but doesn’t taste all that great). Instead, we opted for recipes with big wow factor, while still easy enough for anyone to pull off—and are fun to make, too! Feel free to start with a store-bought cake mix, leaving you time for frosting and decorating the cake. And don’t hesitate to swap in dad’s favorite cake flavor: if the recipe calls for chocolate but he’s a sucker for red velvet, simply proceed with a red velvet cake. This day is all about him, after all, so be sure and tailor the dessert to his liking. If you’re lucky, he just might share the leftovers.
Father’s Day Golf Cake
Celebrate dad’s favorite pastime with this colorful three-layer cake, complete with piped green grass, an edible golf ball (use a gumball or cake ball), and a “#1 Dad” flag. The cake itself is a simple chocolate cake, made with sour cream to keep it moist. To achieve the hole on the top of the cake, you’ll remove a circular piece from the top layer with a round cookie cutter (or drinking glass). If your dad prefers vanilla to chocolate, simply bake him your favorite vanilla cake recipe, then fill the cut-out with cookie crumbs to mimic a hole in the ground.
Get the recipe: Father’s Day Golf Cake
Chocolate Chips Ahoy Dinosaur Cake
We all know dad is still a kid at heart, so he’s sure to love this whimsical dinosaur cake. The dessert features chocolate in four decadent ways: two layers of cake, fluffy buttercream, rich, bittersweet ganache, and crushed chocolate chip cookies (which are sandwiched between the cake layers as well as sprinkled on top). If you like, serve with chocolate ice cream to make it a fab five. If you’re short on time, this could easily be made with a store-bought mix and a tub of frosting. What dad doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Chips Ahoy Dinosaur Cake
Give a nod to dad’s love of the grill with these hamburger lookalike cupcakes. Though they look mighty impressive, the process is simple: you’ll bake both cupcakes and brownies in a cupcake pan, and then make yellow and red icing to act as mustard and ketchup. The lettuce is simply dyed shredded coconut, which you can make by shaking food dye and coconut in a resealable plastic bag. To assemble, cut the vanilla cupcakes in half, spread yellow icing on, place the brownie on top, spread red icing on top of that, sprinkle on the tinted coconut, and finish with the top half of the cupcake. Genius!
Get the recipe: Hamburger Cake
Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn Cake
This cake is great for all sorts of dads: those who love baseball (it’s topped with homemade Cracker Jacks), those who love caramel (hopefully, most dads), and those who love peanut butter (again, who doesn’t?!). It’s a show-stopping cake with a number of components, but the good news is you can prep most of it ahead of time. The brown butter cake layers can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to three days. The caramel popcorn, the caramel sauce, and the peanut butter frosting can be made up to a week in advance. Oh, and if you find yourself with leftover frosting, slather it between graham crackers for a sweet midnight snack.
Get the recipe: Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn Cake
Instead of buying dad another shaving kit this year (we’ve got plenty of more creative ideas), bake him cupcakes that are sure to make him smile. To make the chocolate mustaches, outline a mustache on a piece of paper, and top with a sheet of parchment. Then, spoon melted chocolate into a small piping bag (or re-sealable plastic bag), and pipe along the outline. It’s easier than it looks, and it’s fun, too, so get the kids to help you pipe. If you like, pour the batter into one 9-inch round cake layer and make a mustache cake instead.
Get the recipe: Mustache Cupcakes
Pizza Cookie Cake
For dads who prefer cookies to cake (and pepperoni pizza to cookies, for that matter), this sugar cookie cake is the way to go. You don’t even need a special pan to bake the giant cookie—you’ll just shape the dough into a round on the cookie sheet. This means you can make it as big or as small as you like, depending on how many people you’re celebrating with (and how hungry dad is). A dyed cream cheese frosting stands in for pizza sauce, and piped green chocolate turns into bell peppers. Chocolate chips work great as black olives.
Get the recipe: Pizza Cookie Cake
Related: How to Make a Costco Cake Look Like a Work of Art
We don’t all have endless hours and free afternoons to spend decorating a cake—which is why buying one from the grocery store is a great baking hack. Sheet cakes from the store often taste delicious, they’re simply lacking a bit when it comes to their appearance. Our decorating technique is easy (especially if the kids chip in) and is sure to impress. Start by buying your favorite variety of cake, then personalize it by following these step-by-step instructions.