My youngest son turned 5 a week or two ago and he requested a pirate ship cake. Sure, no problem. He is my second son, and my eldest requested a pirate ship cake when he was 4, so I had a pretty good idea what NOT to do this time.
So I had a quick look on the internet, saw some amazing photos that I wasn’t even going to attempt to recreate, and settled for something super simple, and very effective. Ta dah!…..
I will apologise for not taking photos of the actual shaping of the cake and assembly as I completed forgot to take pictures until after I’d already iced it. So I’ll give you a rundown on what I did, and I hope it’s clear enough to help. I will update this post if I have to make a 3rd pirate ship at any time.
Step 1. I used 4 homebrand cake mixes, 2 vanilla and 2 chocolate (at 75¢ each, you can’t go wrong).
Step 2. Pour the 2 vanilla cake mixes into a bowl, make according to directions. Pour into a greased and lined lamington tin (mine has a base measurement of 21x31cm). Bake at 180°C for about 30 mins, or until cooked. Cool for 5 mins in the pan, turn out onto a wire rack. Repeat for the chocolate cake.
Step 3. When cakes are cooled, cut the tops off the cake so they are the same height. I find it easiest to use a ruler and measure from the bottom of the cake and insert toothpicks around the edges. Use the toothpicks as a guide for your knife to cut across the cake in a straight line.
Step 4. Cut the cake to give you a 13cm wide, 31cm long rectangle. This is the bulk of the ship. Place this on the other cake and use it as a guide to cut the other cake the same size. You should now have a vanilla and chocolate cake of approximately 13x31cm in size.
Step 5. Using a piece of the leftover cake, place it against the back of the ship. Cut it the same width. Repeat with another piece of cake. These two pieces become the bow and stern of the ship.
Step 6. Place these two pieces of cake on top of the ship, one towards the front and one at the back. Cut the front of the ship (through all 3 layers) to give a triangular shape.
That it for the shaping! (Tip: Don’t throw out the leftover pieces of cake. Keep them and use in a trifle).
I made some chocolate Vienna cream icing (recipe below) which I used in between the layers of the cake to hold them in place, as well as to ice around the entire ship. Use a butter knife or pallet knife dipped in warm water (then give it a shake to remove excess water) to smooth around the outside of the cake for a flat finish. Don’t worry too much if it’s not completely smooth, it’s a buttercream, not fondant.
Chocolate Vienna Cream Recipe
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
Cream butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer until pale. Add milk gradually and continue to mix until combined. Add cocoa powder and mix until smooth.
Once the cake was iced, the fun part began. Decorating! I used the following lollies:
· Curly wurly
· Liquorice all-sorts
· Chocolate coated honeycomb square
· Raspberry liquorice log
· Chocolate coated gold coins
· White fondant (I used this for the portholes, name plaque, anchor and to act as edging around the cake board as I already had some in the pantry which was expiring soon. You only need a small amount. If you don’t want to purchase fondant, you can use lifesavers or rolos for the portholes, and melt white chocolate for the anchor and name plaque or opt to leave these out).
I used about 5 curly wurly chocolate bars for around the edges of the ship, leaving a gap on one side for the cannon. I used some yellow smarties as portholes, and maltesers for the cannon balls.
Cut the yellow squares from the liquorice all-sorts to use as windows towards the back of the boat. The cannon was made from a cut down honeycomb square with a raspberry liquorice log placed on top (use some leftover icing to keep it in place).
Roll out a small amount of fondant and use the base of an icing bag nozzle to cut out some circles. I then used the end of a straw to cut out the middle of the circle. Worked perfectly.
I was also able to use the leftover fondant to make a name plaque for the back of the ship and made an anchor freehand (place these in the fridge before placing on the cake as it will harden and be easier to work with). Use some leftover Vienna cream to ice a name onto the plaque.
The sails I printed from the computer and cut to size, and the pirate flag I found in clipart. Place them on long bamboo skewers and insert into cake.
Place the cake on a board toward the back and roll some of the leftover fondant into long snakes to act as a barrier around the edges (and if you squint your eyes, it also kind of looks like the wonky edge of a pirate map). Put some desiccated coconut into a bag and add a few drops of blue food colouring. Shake well. Sprinkle around the cake to look like the sea. I also added some raw sugar in the corner to look like sand, and placed in a few chocolate coins as some buried treasure.
Put your candles in the portholes (5 candles in 5 portholes for Mr5) and you’re done!
That’s it for the pirate cake. Super easy, very effective, and made one 5 year old boy very happy. Click here for some pirate themed party food ideas.
Tip: Make this the day before the birthday party and store it in the oven overnight. Ensure the oven is cold, remove the racks and place carefully on the bottom. It’s easier than trying to wrap it, and saves having to do any assembly on party day. Just make sure you put a sign on the oven door reminding you the cake is in the oven. Nothing worse than a melted birthday cake on party day!