How To Make A Pirate Ship Cake That Kids Will Love

Sarah Wilkinson
Dec 12, 2023 By Sarah Wilkinson
Originally Published on Sep 07, 2020
Kids baking cake with father
Age: 0-99
Read time: 4.9 Min

Image © Gustavo Fring, under a Creative Commons license.

Looking for pirate cake ideas? Ahoy matey! Your birthday buccaneer is bound to love this yummy pirate ship birthday cake.

Not for landlubbers, this ship cake will ensure that their special day sets sail with success. Whether you opt for the chocolate version or traditional birthday cake, we are confident that no scallywags will have to walk the plank. Plus, our simple cake recipe will ensure there are no mutinies, marooning or shipwrecks.

This is the perfect choice for a pirate party, and guests will soon shout shiver me timbers and sing it’s a pirate life for me! However, we have also included some easy pirate cake decorations, so even those without artistic skills can still make a cake to impress.

Plus, there are lots of things that the kids can do themselves, and they will love it even more if they have a hand in making it.

Pirate Cake Ingredients

The ingredients you will need will depend on what type of cake you are looking to make for the birthday party. If you know your jolly roger loves chocolate, you will need:

225g unsalted butter

225g caster sugar

4 eggs

220g self-raising flour

2tsp baking powder

50g cocoa powder

For sponge pirate ship cakes, you will require:

225g butter

225g caster sugar

4 eggs

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking power

When it comes to decorating, you may also require:

Dark chocolate

Royal icing

Fondant icing

Food colouring

2 straws and paper

Cocktail sticks

Apricot Jam

Chocolate coins

Cake topper/ plastic figurines

Piping icing and a piping bag

Little baby girl is cooking

Image © cottonbro, under a Creative Commons license.

The Pirate Ship Recipe

First things first, preheat your oven to 160C/Gas Mark 3. Then grease and line your cake tins.

The Sponge Cake

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together by mixer or hand
  2. Add eggs one at a time
  3. Fold in the rest of the ingredients until smooth
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes

The Chocolate Cake

  1. Mix the ingredients for 2 minutes,
  2. Use an electric mixer if possible, but mixing by hand should be fine,
  3. Divide the mixture between the cake pan.
  4. Bake for 25- 30 minutes

Top Tip: To check to see if cooked, press the ship cake lightly with your finger. When it is ready, it should spring back. If you are still worried, stick a clean skewer or knife in the centre. If it comes back clean, the cake is good.


Image © cottonbro, under a Creative Commons license.

Shaping Your Cake

Shaping your cake is the tough part, but it is just a case of creating the base of the pirate ship.

  1. Cut the cakes in half. Then cut one half into rectangles. You will need these to create the shape of your ship.
  2. The other half of your cake is at the base of the ship. This should be sat vertically, and you may need to cut a little of the bottom to make sure it stands up.
  3. Use jam to stick the largest rectangle at the back of the ship to form the bow. Cut one rectangle into a triangle to form the front of the ship.
  4. At this point, your ship cake should look ship-shape. However, you may need to cut a little more off to smooth the edges for that boat-effect.

Top tip: Remember, it is important to make sure that your ship cake has cooled down before you add any decorations or frosting. If you have time, you could also freeze your cake to make it easier to sculpt.

Decorating your Cake

Ultimately, the amount of decorating and detail that you add to the boat is up to you. If you are not very artistic, you could also just cover the cake with fondant icing and use a pirate ship cake topper.

You could also add some small decorations from below. The most important thing to remember is children will just love the fact that you have made the effort. Pirates need not worry about being perfect!

There are many ways you can create the simple pirate ship effect, such as covering the entire cake with brown fondant or chocolate ganache. If you are feeling artistic, this could then be painted to look like wood grain.

Alternatively, you can pipe your cakes with brown in horizontal stripes. Remember to coat the cake in a jam if you are using a roll-on icing. If you are using soft icing, you will want to do a crumb coat for the finish.


Image © tobylee0830, under a Creative Commons license.

Pirate Birthday Cake Decorations

Use gold icing to create decorative elements on your cakes. For example, you could include a strip of gold at the front and back of the shop, port holes, or even a figurehead. You could also create:

Sails: It is easiest to make our sails from paper, with a straw threaded through. You could print ‘Happy Birthday’ on the paper for a personalised touch, you could print out or draw the Jolly Roger, or you could ask children to design their own flags.

Chocolate coins: Chocolate coins are a great way to add some treasure to your chest.

Anchor: Cut and roll an anchor from fondant icing.

Ladder/ ropes: You could do this yourself by rolling white icing or using sweets like laces.

Wheel: Roll and cut your wheel or use a biscuit!

Cannons: Make cannons for a ship with power or just add plastic ones for ease.

Barrels: We can roll barrels out of marzipan or brown icing. You could also add some detail with an icing pen.

Figures: You could make your own pirates or just use plastic ones.

Cake Board: You could also decorate the ship cake board itself. Pipe swirly blue icing to make it look like the sea, and you could even add some plastic sea creatures. Alternately, you could print off or get children to draw a treasure map for a cool cake bottom that would be ideal for your pirate birthday party.

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Written by Sarah Wilkinson

Bachelor's degree specializing in Social Inclusion and Justice

Sarah Wilkinson picture

Sarah WilkinsonBachelor's degree specializing in Social Inclusion and Justice

With a Degree in Social Inclusion and Justice and a teaching qualification under her belt, Sarah has lived in various countries worldwide, including Turkey, Spain, and Poland. For a decade, she taught children before transitioning to writing. Sarah is enthusiastic about child and adolescent mental health and plans to pursue her dream of becoming a child psychologist. Currently residing in her hometown of Wigan, Sarah spends her free time writing about her interests and bonding with her family.

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