Pirate Ship Birthday Cake

Fondant pirate ship cake
Image courtesy of Mishka Borowski.

With the great success of Hollywood's Pirates of the Caribbean films and an endless fascination among children for anything having to do with pirates, there's plenty of demand for pirate birthday and celebration cakes. Making such a cake can seem intimidating, though, especially if you are only an amateur decorator. Luckily, there's a very simple and fun way to create a basic pirate ship cake that has an impressive presentation.

Simple Pirate Ship Instructions

A simple pirate ship is easy for any decorator to make and looks impressive when served on any occasion. Once you master making the basic pirate cake with buttercream, try making a cake using fondant and gum paste.

Pirate Decorating Supplies

To make the cake, you'll need:

  • 9-inch round cake pan
  • Sharp serrated knife
  • Fflat spatula
  • 3 to 4 cups of chocolate buttercream frosting
  • 3 wooden skewers or thin dowels
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Butter knife

If you'd like, you can embellish the cake further with pirate figurines, licorice, and mini marshmallows.

Making the Pirate Cake

Image courtesy of Natalie Willis, http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweettartcakes/

You'll probably need several hours from start to finish to decorate the cake and put it all together. If you need to transport the cake somewhere, keep that in mind and make sure to decorate it on a stable, flat plate or platter that you'll be able to move later.

  1. Bake two 9-inch round cake layers of any flavor. You can use a box mix to save time or prepare your own recipe. Let the layers cool completely, and then transfer them to the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes so that they will firm up slightly.
  2. Remove the cakes from the freezer and use your sharp, serrated knife to cut them in half, top to bottom, so that each cake forms two half-circles.
  3. Position the circles so that the rounded edges are all facing the same way. Use your knife to cut off 1/2" to 1" of cake at the middle of each rounded edge. Try to make your cuts even, since the cake will be standing on them.
  4. Stand the four cake layers up on the flat edges you just cut; the long, straight edges of the cake should be facing up. If you'd like, you can use a pastry brush to brush the cake free of crumbs at this point so it will be easier to frost.
    Image courtesy of denise200137665 on Flickr.
  5. Scoop and spread buttercream frosting in between the cake layers with your flat spatula so that the layers will stick together. To secure the cake to the platter, lay a dab of buttercream frosting on the platter and set the cake on top.
  6. Scoop more buttercream frosting onto the top and sides of the cake, and spread it evenly. You want a generous layer of frosting, but not so much that it begins to drip off the cake.
  7. When the cake is completely frosted, set it aside for a moment. Using a scissors, cut out nine paper squares that have 2-inch sides. Skewer three of the "flags" with each wooden skewer or dowel, and then stick the skewers or dowels into the top of the cake.
  8. Use a butter knife to add texture to the frosting on the sides of the cake, giving it a striated effect to resemble wooden planks.
  9. If you'd like, you can finish the cake by setting the pirate figurines on top, lining the sides with pieces of red licorice and poking mini marshmallows into the sides of the cake to look like portholes.

Make sure the birthday message is given a place of honor. Write "Happy Birthday" on the sails or come up with a cute saying that fits the pirate theme. The message could also be spelled out on the plank or across the side of the ship using fondant lettering that looks like seaweed.

More Pirate Cake Ideas

Elevated pirate cake.

Making a ship cake is a fun and easy way to celebrate a pirate theme birthday party, but if you're a more advanced decorator or have a special request to contend with, there are a handful of other cake types that fit the theme. Try making one of these alternative pirate theme designs:

  • Pirate face cake using round cakes
  • Sea or beach theme cake with a plastic pirate ship on top
  • Shipwreck cake that uses chocolate coins and candy necklaces as "buried treasure"
  • Treasure map on a sheet cake with "x" marking the spot

Cakes Ahoy, Mateys

A decorated pirate cake, whether simple or elaborate, is a great way to end a party with a pirate theme. Avoid walking the plank by making sure the cake tastes as good as it looks.

Pirate Ship Birthday Cake