The author, TV host, and activist is turning her birthday into a charitable moment.
Credit: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

Padma Lakshmi is many things—an accomplished cook, an author, a Top Chef judge, a world traveler, a mom, and a former model, to boot. But another facet of Lakshmi that shouldn’t be overlooked is her dedication to activism and using her voice to speak up and out for change. It’s no wonder, then, that Lakshmi would take her upcoming birthday as an opportunity to turn outward once again with a charitable challenge for her fans and admirers.

First thing’s first: Happy birthday, Padma! Secondly, here’s what Lakshmi is proposing: You show off your pastry-making chops on social media and she just might flip the script on birthday gifts by making a donation to the organization of your choice. “I’m doing a bake-off for my birthday this Saturday 9/1!” Lakshmi posted on Twitter. “Bake a cake, tag me in it and I’ll give $5,000 to a charity of the winner’s choice.”

Lakshmi also extended the invitation to participate in a story posted to her Instagram account, so it looks like you can tag her on either platform. She also says she'll repost the top five entries, with one lucky winner getting to direct where the donation goes.

A few food-related domestic charities that come to mind are No Kid Hungry, Feeding America, and the José Andrés-founded World Central Kitchen which has been responsible for relief efforts in Puerto Rico, Texas, and California, among other natural disaster sites. But that’s not to say there aren’t hundreds of worthy causes in the U.S. and globally that are just waiting for you to get your apron on, fire up the oven, and start scooping some flour into the bowl of your favorite stand mixer. Plus in the end, if you bake a cake you’ve got yourself a cake to enjoy, so you’re kind of winning this contest no matter what.

Here are some of our favorite cake recipes to inspire your own creation. Just remember, you've only got til tomorrow to make this thing happen!